It recalled the days of medieval battles between the Guelphs, who supported the papacy, and the Ghibellines who supported the the Holy Roman Empire, which historians have keenly noted wasn't at all holy, Roman or an empire. You have to be just as careful today in assuming too much about names. The current trouble began when Cantor and John McCain decided it would be a healthy sign of progress to form a new group to save their benumbed post-Whig Party, daringly calling it the National Council for a New America.
There was really nothing abhorrent about the effort. People are forever creating new groups with patriotic forward-looking titles to replace similar patriotic forward-looking groups that somehow never worked. POLITICO.com quoted McCain's description of the council's goals as an effort to attract moderates and "like-minded Democrats" to a series of public forums around the country. You may recall that McCain regularly challenged Barack Obama during the past campaign to join him in a series of town hall forums throughout the land. I suspect that his failure to lure Obama into these stuffy compact halls has not discouraged the Arizona senator from his obsession to talk up close to people, particularly those who voted last November.
But it didn't take the party's every-present social conservatives very long to slam Cantor and McCain as abandoning such golden oldies as same-sex marriage, immigration and abortion.
POLITICO drew this remark from Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who sneered: "The moderates have been saying the same thing all these years and now they're just seeing a renewed opportunity to push their ideas," which he abhors.
Others jumped into the fray, including the Family Research Council, which also rose to protect "family values" and reminded Cantor/McCain that Mike Huckabee (hope I spelled that right) was creating "such excitement in the conservative base" while the Republican establishment doesn't draw a crowd.
It was at this point that our old buddy from Ohio, Ken Blackwell, who is quite active in Planet Family Values despite his blistering defeat as a gubernatorial candidate in Ohio, complained to POLITICO that the Cantor/McCain group does not "reflect a basic reality". He would know about such realities.
Finally, Rush Limbaugh put his authoritative imprimatur on the anti-National Council for a New America crowd. He modestly called the council a "scam."
With that, I'm calling upon the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, which measures approaching catastrophic destruction of the globe with its Doomsday Clock, to move the GOP an additional minute or two toward its own denise.