by Jordan Zakarin
Moments after the news of Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy’s hospitalization broke early Saturday morning, panicked national Republican leaders hurriedly convened in Washington to discuss their future, with some GOP bigwigs floating the drastic idea of disbanding the entire party as it is known today.
Soon after Kennedy was admitted to Cape Cod Hospital, rumors began swirling as to what befell the 76-year old, the last remaining scion of the legendary political family. As word of “stroke-like symptoms” filtered from Boston to the nation’s capital, many Republicans privately feared for their party’s prospects and their own professional futures, both of which they foresaw as dim without the dirty liberal target they had spent generations slandering and attacking.
Kennedy, elected to the Senate in 1962 to fill out the term vacated by his brother, President John F. Kennedy, became the right’s favorite effigy by the late 60’s, when every other significant liberal politician had been murdered.
“If he’s gone, who do we erroneously link every single Democratic politician to? When you call someone a big government, tax and spend liberal, you gotta add the big guy’s name in there,” said Mike Duncan, current head of the Republican National Committee. “Nothing works better than labeling someone ‘a Ted Kennedy big-government liberal’ or even more effective, a ‘terrorist-coddling, welfare loving Kennedy-protege who is trying to turn every family in America totally gay, or at least open-minded’. Our base eats that shit up.”
The Kennedy illness could not have come at a worse time for the GOP. Saddled with a President with record-setting disapproval ratings, a massively unpopular war in Iraq, through the roof oil prices and a struggling economy, the percentage of voters identifying themselves as Republicans is already at an all time low. As such, party officials had already been pessimistic about their prospects in November’s elections, with presumptive nominee John MCain trailing Democrat Barack Obama in early polling in the race for the White House.
Now, with the possibility of losing the ability to knee-jerk attack Ted Kennedy, long a cure-all for GOP campaigns, the idea of continuing to function as a cohesive, national organization with a realistic opportunity to elect candidates and pass policy began to seem futile to even the most fiercely partisan of Republicans.
“What’s the point, man?” asked a distraught GOP official, in between slugs of Bordeaux and moonshine. “In tough times like this, he’s been our rock, the guy we’ve turned to when we really needed to spit out some venom to rally the base. If he’s gone, all we’re left with is Nancy Pelosi and Alec Baldwin, and he plays such a convincing conservative on 30 Rock that it’s almost like beating up on a brother. It’s as close as we’ll get to Hollywood.”
Notable conservatives took the news with varying degrees of emotion, with some nearly inconsolable as they considered the future of the American right wing. Sources connected to author and Fox News host Bill O’Reilly described the controversial pundit as “absolutely devastated,” with his depression quickly turning into anger on the set of his The O’Reilly Factor. The controversial pundit became short tempered, berating producers for a teleprompter misunderstanding before retreating to his dressing room to take a warm falafel shower, potentially with a production assistant.
Columnist Anne Coulter, a long-time Kennedy antagonist, resorted to eating a sandwich for the first time in seven years, though she still removed half the bread and did not eat the crust.
By late Saturday, when it became apparent that the Massachusetts Democrat would make a full recovery, leading conservatives showed signs of cautious relief, glad they had waited before making any decision. One GOP senator, on condition of anonymity, enapsulated the , “Thank God we didn’t just go and drive off that bridge right away, am I right?”