10 Republicans Who Should Stay

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Ben Cohen
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By Ben Cohen

My articles '10 Republicans Who Should Go Away' and '10 Democrats Who Should Go Away' both made the 'Most Popular on HuffPost' list two weeks in a row, making it clear that:

1. There are lost of Republicans and Democrats people really would like to see go away.
2. Thousands of Republicans don't like me.
3. People like top 10 lists.

Due to their overwhelming popularity, I've decided to run a regular 'Top Ten' list, as they are fun to do, and they generate some fantastic debate.

So, in the latest installment of the 'Top Ten' list, I thought it might be a more positive to list 10 Republicans who should stay in the political and media arena for their good behavior.

1. Colin Powell

Powell managed to extricate himself from serious political circles the day he presented the 'evidence' of Saddam Hussein's Weapons of Mass Destruction to the United Nations. The entire debacle was shameful, and Powell was deeply embarrassed about the matter and clearly wracked with guilt. His name tarnished, Powell slipped away from the limelight after Bush's first term and remained largely out of sight for a number of years. However, Powell re-emerged during the Presidential election to elect Barack Obama, stinging his friend John McCain, and blasting his choice of running mate. Powell said of Palin:

"Now that we have had a chance to watch her for some seven weeks, I don't believe she's ready to be president of the United States, which is the job of the vice president. And so that raised some question in my mind as to the judgment that Sen. McCain made."

And with that, Powell bounced straight back into credibility. If the Republican party wants to survive, it must start listening to people like Powell, who are above all, sane.

2. Ron Paul

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Ron Paul won pretty much every Republican debate hands down, proving that brains and ideas won't get you far in the GOP. The doctor from Texas ultimately failed because he decided to tell the truth about the massive hypocrisy and corruption of the Republican Party, and tried to offer something similar to the original Republicanism of small government, civil liberties, and a humble foreign policy. Paul's small government libertarianism may be outdated (probably by a hundred years or so), but his analysis of the United States fiscal and foreign policy were incredibly accurate and insightful.

On Bush's version of capitalism, Paul said:

Deficits mean future tax increases, pure and simple. Deficit spending should be viewed as a tax on future generations, and politicians who create deficits should be exposed as tax hike

On the war in Iraq, Paul less kind:

Cliches about supporting the troops are designed to distract from failed policies, policies promoted by powerful special interests that benefit from war, anything to steer the discussion away from the real reasons the war in Iraq will not end anytime soon.

Amen. Please stick around Ron.

3. Chuck Hagel

This is what a real 'Maverick' looks like. Despite the Nebraska Senator's
vote for use of force against Iraq in 2002, the Senate's No. 2
Republican Leader stood staunchly against its continued occupation once he realized he'd been repeatedly lied to. In
2007, Hagel joined the Democrats in supporting legislation to begin
removing troops from Iraq within 120 days, and he described the plan
to build up more troops in Iraq as "the worst foreign policy blunder
since Vietnam." Hagel stood firmly against the Bush Administration's attempt to instigate conflict with Iran, suggesting that impeachment charges
could be brought up against a President who was unresponsive to the
political will of the public. During the 2008 Presidential campaign,
Hagel was the foil to Joe Liberman, praising Obama and criticizing the GOP and it's nominee. Unlike other Republicans, Hagel has refused to trade principles for popularity.

4. Peggy Noonan

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It is impossible not to respect Noonan as a writer. She is clear, reasoned and very well informed. Her traditional conservatism is refreshing for liberals to read as she offers sharp criticism that doesn't lecture, and doesn't assume superiority. Noonan has been on the wrong side of pretty much every argument since Bush was inaugurated until it became abundantly clear that the Republican party had been hijacked by a bunch of ideological nut cases. When Sarah Palin hit the scene, Noonan had clearly had enough and spoke out forcefully about her party's plummet into insanity. Here's what she had to say about the Governor from Alaska:

In the past two weeks she has spent her time throwing out tinny lines


to crowds she doesn't, really, understand. This is not a leader, this


is a follower, and she follows what she imagines is the base, which is


in fact a vast and broken-hearted thing whose pain she cannot,


actually, imagine. She could reinspire and reinspirit; she chooses


merely to excite. She doesn't seem to understand the implications of


her own thoughts.....

In the end the Palin candidacy is a symptom and expression of a new
vulgarization in American politics. It's no good, not for conservatism
and not for the country. And yes, it is a mark against John McCain,
against his judgment and idealism.

Noonan may be on the Right, but she tries hard to be fair in her commentary, a much appreciated attribute in the world of talking head warfare and vicious partisanship.

5. Andrew Sullivan

The British born, Gay, Catholic, Conservative blog maestro isn't really a Republican anymore (given his support for John Kerry in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008), but Sullivan maintains his roots in 'small c' conservatism proudly. Sullivan is a huge asset to political discourse in American. Sullivan's blog is one of the best around, and his unique perspective on current events makes 'The Daily Dish' a must read. Sullivan has been a voice of conservative sanity while the Republican party spirals into oblivion, providing constant reminders that the clowns in power are a nothing more than a twisted aberration. Sullivan is anti torture, pro environment, and pro gay, proving conservatives aren't all mean SOBs. Sullivan's anti Clinton tirades are somewhat tiresome and his views on the economic crisis aren't that well thought out, but overall, he is a powerful voice for true conservatism and a welcome one at that.

6. Sarah Palin

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Sarah Palin makes the list for purely pragmatic reasons. She featured prominently on the 10 Republicans who should go away list, but for the very same reasons should stick around. The half witted Republicans who helped create the Bush phenomenon, thought invading Iraq was a good idea, and wrecked John McCain's campaign (Karl Rove, Grover Norquist, William Kristol etc) all want Sarah Palin to become the future of the party. With a list of train wrecks to their names, there is no reason to doubt their ability to get it wrong again, and Palin seems like a sure bet. Palin’s latest wheeze is to go on the offensive, blaming her dreadful performance during the campaign on ‘the media’. Clearly aiming for another shot at the big prize, Palin’s tactics are likely to backfire given the countries waning patience for dumbness. But the more Palin features in the Republican Party, the happier the Democrats should be.

7. Chris Buckley

Son of eminent conservative William F. Buckley, Chris Buckley came out with a brilliant article in The Daily Beast titled ‘Sorry Dad, I’m Voting For Obama’ outlining why he could not vote for McCain and Palin:

This campaign has changed John McCain. It has made him inauthentic. A once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly; his positions change, and lack coherence; he makes unrealistic promises, such as balancing the federal budget “by the end of my first term.” Who, really, believes that? Then there was the self-dramatizing and feckless suspension of his campaign over the financial crisis. His ninth-inning attack ads are mean-spirited and pointless. And finally, not to belabor it, there was the Palin nomination. What on earth can he have been thinking?

Buckley’s moderate conservatism is a far cry from the name calling idiocy and extremist ideology espoused by the neo cons, and a welcome voice in the civilized debate the country so desperately needs.

8. David Brooks

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The erudite New York Times Columnist is the quintessential establishment intellectual, publishing clever articles only the upper middle classes understand. A self confessed ‘neocon incrementalist’, Brooks basically provided the civilized language as to why it’s OK to murder thousands of Arabs for oil. But Brooks is a civil and intelligent conservative, willing to acknowledge mistakes and engage in serious debate. Brooks spoke out against the ridiculous choice of Sarah Palin for Vice Presidency, bolstering his credentials as a serious person and non-ideologue. If the Republican Party is to survive as a useful entity in American politics, listening to people like Brooks will be essential.

9. Scott McClellan

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Scott McClellan was a terrible press secretary, and a general embarrassment to the profession. Incapable of answering anything coherently, McClellan was battered from pillar to post by the press and routinely looked like a deer caught in the headlights rather than a skilled, professional liar. It turns out McClellan actually had a conscience and was privately disgusted with the shenanigans going on behind the scenes, which partly explains his haphazard performances at the podium. McClellan finally spoke out against the Administration (not of course, when it would have made a difference), and admitted that he passed on lies about the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame. McClellan then went on to publicly support Barack Obama, in part way atoning for his sins. McClellan is basically finished professionally, so hopefully will be able to support himself by exposing more of what went on in the house of Bush. It’s a hard way to make a living, but at least an honest one.

10. Stephen Colbert!!??

Having wracked my brains for several days, there wasn’t another name brand Republican I could think of that deserved any real praise - so I came up with a fake one. Colbert's parody of a conservative pundit is so funny to watch because it is so painfully accurate. The sad thing is, Colbert gets his material by basically plagiarizing Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly, highlighting the dreadful level of Republican intellectual thought. Here's a favorite quote of mine:

And don't think you're off the hook, voters, you're the ones who made
this bed. Now you're the ones who are going to have to move over so a
gay couple can sleep in it. Tomorrow you're all going to wake up in a
brave new world, a world where the Constitution gets trampled by an
army of terrorist clones, created in a stem-cell research lab run by
homosexual doctors who sterilize their instruments over burning
American flags. Where tax-and-spend Democrats take all your hard-earned
money and use it to buy electric cars for National Public Radio, and
teach evolution to illegal immigrants. Oh, and everybody's high! You
know what, I've had it! You people don't deserve a Republican majority!
I quit!

For the countries sake, lets hope he doesn't.

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