The very question highlights the trouble. Who exactly is sane in the GOP today? Most who ever were have long since left the party-like Crist in Florida. At this point, the leader of the "sane" Republicans is Karl Rove.
So is this Ted Cruz Republicanism vs. George W. Bush Republicanism? Lately we've been hearing Marco Rubio spoken of as a sane Republican-and he questions the truth of evolution, but then "I'm not a scientist, man."
George W. Bush too, was not a scientist and proud of it-see his stem cell research and support for Creationism and questioning evolution. Jonathon Bernstein gives some advice to the GOP in revitalizing their party:
"for sane conservatives to really do something about the GOP Senate nominations problems, they need to take two steps: actively, aggressively push The Crazy out of the mainstream of the party, and substitute policies that can be sold as having direct effects on voters' lives for the symbolic policies that they've specialized in over the last few years."
Trouble is, we already have a sane party-it's the Democrats. Since the announcement of Karl Rove's new project, he's been roundly denounced by the Right. Yet the Rush Limbaughs and Erick Erickson make a fair point that Rove doesn't really have such a great track record either at least in recent years.
We also saw in 2012 that his deep pockets are hardly a panacea as he saw a return for his $300 million dollars of basically nil. Many represent this as an epic, long-term struggle between the "pragamtists" and the "ideologues."
“The Conservative Victory Project represents the latest round in a fight that’s been going on for decades,” said Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College. “Since the origins of the modern conservative movement in the mid-1950s, purists and pragmatists have been battling for dominance in the GOP.”
That's true, going back to the the 1950s between William F. Buckley and Dwight Eisenhower. Still, in the past the conservatives always won. Like in the 1964 debacle, the conservatives would win the fight with the moderates who saw the election as proof that Goldwater had been too far on the Right.
Of course, Buckley was always very careful and systematic in driving out any conservative that he knew would hurt the party's chances. In a way you could say that's what their missing. He was a true conservative but always knew how to keep the party viable.
Yet I think things have changed. I don't think even Buckley could save the GOP today. It goes without saying Karl Rove can't. When you look at the GOP"s attempts since November to make sense of what happened the approach is always too one-dimensional. Different players may point to different reasons. But they never put it all together.
Oh well. As a Democrat I know what I need to do: just sit back and enjoy the show. Whoever wins, the GOP loses. My guess is that Rove will lose because the problem with the party is more deep and integral than just fleshing out a couple of extreme candidates here and there.
The party is in denial and will be for some time. They will probably be a decade or two in the wilderness before they even begin to get it.
In a deeper sense, they are on "the Wrong Side of History." They have been for a long time. The crux of the problem is really this: they still haven't intellectually accepted the New Deal after all these years. Their struggle is still with FDR. Until they can finally accept it-if they ever can-they will remain in the wilderness. The Dems were in the wilderness from the time of Lincoln until FDR's historic win. In 180 the Dems had been on the Wrong Side of History by supporting the slave owning South.
Nixon and his Southern Strategy gave them a new life for awhile. His whole premise was that the GOP loses on "the Economic Issue" so they need to fight on "the Social Issue." The trouble is that now social issues no longer break their way anymore. The whole premise of the Tea Party was supposed to be that they shouldn't make it about social issues, it should be about economic issues-spending, deficits, debt.
All this ignores that the premise of the reemergence of the GOP starting with Nixon in 1968 was that economics is the kiss of death that they must neutralize it but they can never win on it. Now the party thinks that social issues are the kiss of death and that they can win on fiscal austerity.
Unfortunately, Nixon was right. However, with the political and demographic changes since then, his strategy doesn't work anymore.