While the Presidential election is still 9 months away, it’s already apparent to a lot of Republicans that their party is in such disarray it is unlikely that they will be able to launch a serious challenge to the reelection of Barack Obama. Let the blame-game begin.

In a brilliant column in today’s New York Times entitled, The Possum Republicans, David Brooks decries all the “mainstream” centrist Republicans like Sen. Richard Lugar (R. Indiana) who have surrendered their own principled convictions to please tea-party Republicans on the right whom he calls the ‘wingers.’

The result of all this pandering is that a political party that had traditionally been identified with national security, pro-business policies and keeping government lean and mean, is now seen by many Americans as a disorganized circus staring a lot of very frightening clowns.  Many moderate Republicans like Lugar and Romney, have so capitulated  their moderate positions on healthcare and reproductive rights to win the loyalty of angriest, most inane elements of the Republican base, it is now impossible to identify what the party stands for and who are its leaders.

Brooks is all too aware of the damage done:

All across the nation, there are mainstream Republicans lamenting how the party has grown more and more insular, more and more rigid. This year, they have an excellent chance to defeat President Obama, yet the wingers have trashed the party’s reputation by swinging from one embarrassing and unelectable option to the next: Bachmann, Trump, Cain, Perry, Gingrich, Santorum.

Brooks accurately gauges the capacity of the “wingers” to participate in the democratic process: “They have zero tolerance for the compromises needed to get legislation passed. They don’t believe in trimming and coalition building. For them, politics is more about earning respect and making a statement than it is about enacting legislation. It’s grievance politics, identity politics.”

The result?  A wishy-washy centrist like Romney who has changed his mind so many times on so many issues that neither independent voters or the “wingers” trust him.  Can he really be the Republican standard-bearer? The old-guard knows that Santorum and Gingrich are losing propositions but the base is still hoping for an alternative.

And who would believe that just 5 years after being forced out of the U.S. Senate because of his bombastic brand of social conservatism, many Americans are today pondering the very real possibility of Rick Santorum becoming the Republican nominee?   Even if Santorum doesn’t get the nomination, the damage is done: The wingers and the wish-washy centrists have turned the Republican Party into a joke.

On his daily MSNBC program Morning Joe, Republican host Joe Scarborough observed that Rick Santorum’s rhetoric is “not just offending left winger in Manhattan and Georgetown, he’s offending conservative right-wing women who would never have voted for Democrats in their life!”

Scarborough lamented the fact that his Republican friends are all asking, what the hell has happened to our party?   “These are people that would vote for their dog over Barack Obama and yet, they’re having trouble seeing clear to vote for Santorum, Romney, Gingrich!”

Another Republican pundit, political analyst Brit Hume accused Rick Santorum on the O’Reilly Factor of “political malpractice” for trying to build his candidacy on radical-right social issues that are scaring off most voters.

So who is really to blame for the Republican Party becoming ominous collection of malcontents and extremists? This nightmare scenario is a creation of every Republican politician since Richard Nixon, who has intentionally surrendered his/her convictions to the rhetoric of populist intolerance for liberals, minority groups, women, LGBT people, immigrants and cosmopolitan-educated Americans (‘elitists’).

In expressing his own anger and disappointment with his party, Brooks wonders:

“……where have these party leaders been over the past five years, when all the forces that distort the G.O.P. were metastasizing? Where were they during the rise of Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck? Where were they when Arizona passed its beyond-the-fringe immigration law? Where were they in the summer of 2011 when the House Republicans rejected even the possibility of budget compromise? They were lying low, hoping the unpleasantness would pass.”

Yes, 9 months before the Presidential election it is apparent that the GOP is imploding, the victim of monsters they themselves created.