Wednesday 4 November 2009

GOP leadership surrenders to the wingnuts

Stop for a moment and grasp the real significance of this week’s events: the teabaggers actively want Republicans to lose, if the Republicans don’t meet all of the wingnut litmus tests. They would rather elect a Democrat than a moderate Republican.

Even more amazing: the Republican party leadership has announced that they will NOT defend GOP establishment candidates if the teabaggers launch a primary challenge.


The wingnuts say they aim to “save the Republicans from themselves”. They said they’d rather lose than compromise, so they are actually celebrating NY 23 today. Erickson over at Redstate insists that the aim in NY 23 was to beat Scozzafava: beating the moderate Republican was more important than beating the Democrat. They think a win by a moderate is a loss, so they’d rather that the moderate lose. Some extremist third-party candidates are actually hoping to siphon off enough votes to beat a moderate Republican and elect a Democrat. They will work to block Kirk in Illinois; Kirk, who questioned the selection of Palin for the GOP ticket last year, is now sucking up to her. They will back Chuck DeVore over Fiorina in the California Senate primary: DeMint said he is backing DeVore over Fiorina due to “Chuck’s willingness to stand up against his own party leaders.” -- he wants to “shake up” the GOP.

The thing to remember: bruising primary battles lead to November losses. And that is an advantage for the wingnuts: they don’t care about bloody primaries and they know the party leaders do care. All they need to do is show up and growl, and the leadership will run away. In fact they already are fleeing: Cornyn says the NRSC won’t spend money on contested primaries, so if teabaggers challenge incumbents, the incumbents (and party choices like Crist, and presumably Fiorina) are on their own. Cornyn asserted, lamely, that it’s all because the race in NY 23 shows competitive primaries are a good thing, so the grass roots can be heard. Cornyn is giving the wingnuts a big slice of his own power – refusing to contest contested territory -- because he is afraid of them and he knows the party leadership is toxically unpopular right now. So the wingnuts really are in charge: all they have to do is field a right-wing challenger, and the seat is theirs for the taking.

This won’t happen on the Democratic side. Liberals are starting to make the same sort of noises as the Republicans: “We provided the campaign troops in 2008 and gave you party leaders a 60-seat Senate caucus, so deliver the public option and a couple of other bennies like cap and trade, or repealing DOMA, or closing Guantanamo, or we’ll stay at home next time.” However, unlike the conservative extremists who have a long list of apostate Republicans to target and a longer list of transgressions which can earn their ire, liberals are more circumspect in threatening primary challenges against party centrists: so far they are only threatening Democrats who derail health reform.

And Obama and Emanuel are pulling the party the other way: while the left wing wants them to move left, Obama wants to scoop up all the moderates who are being driven out of the GOP. He saw independents drift away from the Democratic party in the 2009 elections, and he wants them back on board. Unlike the GOP, the Democratic party has a strong moderate wing, because Democrats have been recruiting moderates for 20 years while the GOP has been driving them out.

Some Hill Democrats are pulling the other way for a different reason. They are telling their leaders – steer clear of controversial issues such as immigration, gays and climate change, so they don’t lose in 2010. Another impetus pushing the Democrats toward the center.

So the Democrats won’t tear themselves apart like the GOP.

The wingnuts have won over Giuliani, who originally said the party must be inclusive, but now is slamming Scozzafava, and slammed Newt for endorsing her (Rush is slamming Newt too).

Meanwhile Bachmann’s effort to launch a teabag assault on the Hill, with calls, emails and visits to Congress, fell apart. One rally too many? Are the wingnuts as fatigued as the left is?

Kristol is erecting false analogies again, asserting that the GOP was split in 1976 and then rose to victory in 1980, so they could do it again. Two problems here: the Reagan-Ford squabbling in 1976 wasn’t about ideology, it was about two guys who both wanted to run the country (“co-presidents”??). And second, 1980 was about a brilliant, once-in-a-generation snake oil salesman: Reagan is now dead and the GOP has no one who can do what he did.

Four groups to watch, over on Planet Wingnut, are the Club For Growth (CFG), Freedomworks, Americans For Prosperity, and the Conservative Party. Chris Chocola’s CFG hunts RINO’s: they have attacked Snowe, Specter and Chafee, and supported GOP scumbags Chambliss and Bachmann; their violations in such efforts earned them a $350,000 FEC fine. They will probably go after Crist, and they could go after Huckabee too since they savaged him in 2008 over his “liberal” record in Arkansas . That’s how crazy these people are: a guy who wanted to put HIV patients in concentration camps, and who repeated the wingnut meme that moderation is unacceptable, anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-evolution…is too liberal.

The teabaggers will hold a huge convention in Nashville in February – in the geographical center of Planet Wingnut. They are trying to pin down Palin as keynote speaker. The aim is to prepare and network for 2010 tea parties.

Two more signs about how out of touch the wingnuts are. First, recent polling shows that support for the GOP outside the south is down to a toxic 7-10 percent. But a recent CNN poll shows that even in the south, 57 percent said Obama did a better job than Bush. So even down south, Obama has some traction, and the wingnuts still have work to do even in their own backyard.

And another sign of how the non-insane part of America has rejected the wingnuts: the latest from CNN is that Joe Gaffe-A-Minute Biden has poll approvals that are 24 points higher than Cheney’s, despite the year-long Cheney family “Daddy was right and torture is good” tour.

And here is what election day did NOT mean.

One must ask how Republicans can be celebrating NY 23 when their candidate was driven out of the race: not only did they fail to deliver the conservative message with sufficient force, but the guy who did deliver it lost also. The real lesson from the election is two-fold: that people are really angry about the economy (which helped the GOP), and that regardless of party or ideology, lousy candidates lose. Deeds ran a lousy campaign in a red state and made liberal activists stay home with his centrist message, Corzine is a former CEO from the disgraced firm of Goldman Sachs, and Hoffman’s short time in the sun was riddled with stupidity: advocating the incredibly destructive and unworkable flat tax, “solving” the deficit problem by cutting pork and earmarks which only account for about 3 percent of the budget, screeching that ACORN had invaded his state and slashed an aide’s car (actually the idiot drove over a bottle), and allowing his storm troopers to illegally intimidate voters at the polls.

As for the notion that this is a referendum on Obama: sorry, but the folks at the polls said otherwise. Obama had nothing to do with it. In fact there were a lot of voters who like Obama but deserted Deeds and Corzine because they just didn’t like them. But in the end, the Democrats won two congressional races (one in a district that hasn’t gone blue in a century and a half), the GOP got two governorships, and there was a split on gay referenda, which sounds like a tie to me. And the tiebreaker is health care: Pelosi now has two more Democrats to secure a House majority for health care, whereas the two new governors are completely uninvolved in the biggest political battle of the year.

Another lesson from the voting: turnout! In 2008 the Obama hordes turned out. This year it was the teabaggers. Who will be motivated to show up in 2010? We know the teabaggers will show up. What about our team?

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