It really wasn't all that long ago that Republicans were touting how there was room for everyone in their "Big Tent". And that all worked out for them for a while. But over time, the party started fracturing again...and with a metaphor like "Big Tent", wasn't that inevitable? Think of it this way; if the religious right were the lion tamers, then the Log Cabin Republicans were surely the lions. And is it really natural to expect the lions and the lion tamers to hang out peacefully? Hell no. One of them is supposed to shove a chair in the other's face and expects to dominate.
That equilibrium could only hold for so long. For a while, their strategy morphed into something along the lines of "Sure, Bush isn't the greatest thing since sliced bread, but can't we all agree that the Clintons and their ilk are evil incarnate?" That, too, was enough to keep a tenuous bond going for a while.
In the last election cycle, it became clear that the Republicans no longer had anything uniting them. No matter what they tried, it wasn't enough to get them marching to the same drummer. The current image of the Republican Party is being portrayed by folks like Michael Steele, Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal and Michele Bachman. Surely this shows a party in disarray. And a lot of people see Michael Steele's recent missteps as evidence that they're not going to improve on the situation anytime soon. Well I beg to differ. Steele may be crazy, but I think he's crazy like a fox.
See, here's the deal. He's taking what worked about the big tent metaphor and tossing the parts that didn't work. The big tent was filled with conflict, but the type of conflict where the same people were always winning the argument. Now what metaphor from the circus acknowledges conflict, but let's everybody take turns winning. Yup! It's the Clown Car. It's all so cute and happy. There are just a shitload of silly characters piling out of the thing. They may be throwing pies at each other...shpritzing each other with seltzer...bopping each other with foam rubber frying pans, but eventually, the clown car arrives at a destination with everybody along for the ride. And the genius thing is that each one of the clowns gets a chance to show off their own unique brand of zany.
And guess what. While one of the clowns is keeping you distracted with schtick, another one is sneaking up and shoving water balloons down your pants.
Make light of the clowns at your peril.