Rubbernecking at Republican Roadkill

Watching the self-destruction of Colorado Republicans is partly dreadful, partly fascinating, but almost impossible to ignore -- much like the way one feels when sneaking a peek while passing a car wreck. If there was any chance of the GOP mounting a respectable challenge to John Hickenlooper, that chance officially dies today, with Tom "the human torpedo" Tancredo's entry into the race.

I'm a registered "unaffiliated" with long-time Republican leanings and connections. It thus pains me to see the party on the verge of blowing a golden opportunity here in Colorado, through a combination of incompetence, character flaws, a paper-thin bench and -- in Tancredo's case -- pure opportunism and ego-gratification. But the party still has a lot of soul-searching and re-thinking to do, in my opinion, before it's ready to return to a long-term leadership role. All it will have to offer, otherwise, is Obama Lite.

The party should benefit in the short-run from the anti-Obama backlash (Colorado aside). But being something other than Obama isn't an agenda on which the party can build a lasting platform and political coalition. A few Republicans can actually articulate a consistent limited government, pro-freedom vision for the country. Fewer still can do it credibly. But most are staking their fortunes on a growing public revulsion to the Obama agenda, without offering much in the way of a clear alternative. That won't be good enough to sustain itself, or get the country moving in a better direction, even if the party does make some short-term gains.

Republicans need to wander a little more in the wilderness, I think, and undergo a sincere rediscovery of their roots, before they'll be able to offer a consistent, coherent and compelling alternative to Obamanism.