In this post Matt Yglesias notes another piece of evidence in the absurdity of the current Republican party. Matt is commenting on this post by Patrick Ruffini who is noting the oddity (and lack of seriousness) in the current Republican Party's current obsession with Joe the Plumber. I agree with Mr. Ruffinin in general, although most of his specific comments are far off the mark, but he doesn't seem to get the problem with the current Republican predicament, nor why they cannot escape Joe the Plumber.
The problem Ruffini is facing in trying to pull the Republican party away from gimmicks is that the Republicans are at this point in a bind. Their ideology is tied two unshakable beliefs 1) the government does nothing of value, does nothing to support business, it just ‘interferes’ in the market 2) government functions like copyright protection, licensing the radio waves, and incorporation are absolutely necessary for business to exist. We on the left are pretty sure one of those must be false, and generally believe that the second is true, therefore it makes sense to charge business money to get these services. The Republican party is still wedded to policies which depend upon both being true. The American people are catching on to the absurdity of the conservative position on this. Given that their position is absurd, they have no choice but gimmicks.
On top of that, as Matt notes, Newt’s 80/20 issues are useless for the Republicans. They are 80/20 precisely because they are peripheral and not central to people’s interests. Yes, they are popular, but the 80 percent who favor them are also not really concerned about them.