Tag Archives: dede scozzafava

Reasonable Voters, Radical Pols

Blogger Jay Bookman says that at least according to Gallup, Republican voters are pretty “reasonable,” but it’s the pols in Washington that are radical.  His last paragraph is the kicker:

In other words, it’s not merely that Washington Republicans won’t compromise with Democrats. They won’t compromise even with their own voters. The national party is in the grip of radicals who accept no deviation from the approved party line, and who demonstrate no tolerance for the broader, more reasonable range of opinions that exists within the Republican electorate they claim to represent.

The takeaway from this blog post is supposed to be that Washington Republicans who are “radicals” need to listen to their more “reasonable” voters. 

On the surface, there is some truth to that, but that’s only if you have a very simple view of party politics.  But I think Bookman leaves out a lot of factors that has made Washington pols more conservative than their supposed electorate.  Continue reading

Patraeus 2012?

James Joyner notes that General David Patraeus is giving a speech at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire on March 24, and when anyone famous starts giving speeches in Iowa or New Hampshire, that allows pundits to start wondering about a future presidential campaign.

Patraeus is a registered Republican and there has been a lot of talk here and there of the General being a potential candidate in the future. A Mother Jones article  by Adam Weinstein, that Joyner notes, wonders if a Patraeus candidacy would revive the state of centrists in the GOP:

But on further review (and ignoring the obvious concerns about militarism in electoral politics), a Petraeus candidacy might be healthy for the GOP—and for the country. He publicly supported the Obama administration’s now-stalled plan to shutter Guantanamo Bay’s detention facility and end torture. He holds a doctorate from Princeton and has surrounded himself with intellectuals, left and right, in and out of uniform, who embrace out-of-the-box thinking—no small feat in the military’s often stultifying bureaucracy.

Most important, Petraeus has reportedly identified himself as a “Rockefeller Republican,” a rare breed of urbane, educated, big-state social liberal that’s been excommunicated from the Grand Old Party of late (see also Crist, Charlie; Chafee, Lincoln). Since Barack Obama’s election, the GOP has sought to co-opt ultraconservative, right-wing, and Tea Party anger as its brand of choice, effectively marking moderate Republicans as Godless traitors. But who’s going to level such attacks on the uniformed, mythical superman who averted disaster and “pacified” Iraq? He could debate the ins and outs of health care policy without being labeled a socialist. He could shut down military tribunals and expand diplomacy without being called an Al Qaeda sympathist. He could discuss the finer points of social policy without being shouted down as a pinko libertine.

In effect, only someone of Petraeus’ unassailable stature could force mainstream Republicans back to the political center—and whether or not it’s enough to win an election in 2012 or 2016, his candidacy could be an undeniable victory in America’s protracted war with rightist extremism.

However, Joyner isn’t convinced:

A noble thought but, of course, ultraconservatives, right-winger, and Tea Partyers are a large part of the Republican nominating electorate. It’ll be a neat trick winning their support while pulling the party back to the center.

On one hand, I agree with him. The last time a Northeastern or Rockefeller Republican ran for President, which was when former New York mayor Rudy Guliani ran in 2008, it was a disaster. Also when General Colin Powell was thinking about running in 1996, he was cut short by the ultra right who was ready to wage a campaign against the moderate.

However, one should never say that moderates in the GOP can never win. After Dede Scozzafava’s downfall, it seemed that moderates were not welcomed. Then Scott Brown wins the special election to win the Senate seat vacated with the death of Ted Kennedy.

Also, it matters who Patraeus would have around him in a proposed campaign. If he has some masterful tacticians running his campaign, he could pull it off, emphasis on the word “could.”

Who knows. It will be interesting to watch.

Scott Brown, Liberal

Last night I happened to stumble on this post by Boris Schor, a professor at the University of Chicago which claims that the Scott Brown, the GOP candidate in Massachusetts fill the late Ted Kennedy’s term is more liberal than the GOP candidate for the 23rd congressional district in New York, Dede Scozzafava. Schor did a good job and shows that his assertion was not simply bunk. Continue reading

Erick Erickson Strikes Again

Having helped forced Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava out of the race for the 23rd Congressional District and throwing the seat to the Democrats, it seems that Red State’s Erick Erickson is setting his sites on the race for President Obama’s former Senate seat. Continue reading

'Purity' may cost the GOP

This op-ed from the Raliegh News-Observer is talking about the North Carolina GOP, but it could be talking about the national GOP.

The N.C. Republican Party has been channeling its inner Jesse Helms lately, and not just because a portrait of the late conservative icon was unveiled last week.

At a GOP banquet Saturday night in North Raleigh, one of the main speakers was to have been Doug Hoffman, the New York conservative congressional candidate who was the favorite of Glenn Beck & Co. But he canceled because of an illness.

The state GOP is also considering a rule change that would bar unaffiliated voters from voting in state Republican primaries, in theory screening out some moderate voters.

In this age of polarization, it is politically incorrect to be a moderate.

The Republican Party likes to bill itself as the conservative voice of North Carolina and that is true enough, although the Libertarian Party might take exception.

But the state Republican Party has historically been far broader than the Helmsian party, with strong ties to the more moderate GOP brand of the mountains, the foothills, the board rooms and the suburbs.

Sometimes the Republican Party forgets that.

Twice in the last century, Republicans have won the governorship. In both cases they elected moderate conservatives, Jim Holshouser (1973-77) and Jim Martin (1985-1993).

Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, another moderate conservative, probably would have been elected governor last November if Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama had not made a huge effort here.

It has only been in U.S. Senate races that the Republican Party traditionally has spoken with a pure conservative voice. That’s largely because Helms and his longtime political organization, the National Congressional Club, helped elevate to office a series of Helms-like conservatives.

But that was a club, not a political party.

Those calling for ideological purity have a short memory. Helms was repeatedly angry and frustrated at President Ronald Reagan, who would provide only lip service to such issues as abortion and school prayer. And it was Reagan who signed a nuclear arms reduction treaty with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.

This is actually an old debate. During the 1970s and 1980s, the state Republican Party was often torn by factional warfare between Helms-style conservatives and more traditional Republicans.

I was present in 1988 at a GOP convention in Franklin County in which a riot broke out, with multiple fistfights.

The Republican Party grew rapidly in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s in North Carolina by courting conservative Democrats.

But North Carolina has maintained the strongest Democratic Party in the South during the past decade by siphoning off moderate Starbucks Republicans.

As conservative British Prime Minister HaroldMcMillan (1957-63) once noted: “A successful party of the right must continue to recruit from the center and even from the left center. Once it begins to shrink into itself like a snail, it will be doomed.”

About That Concession…

Doug Hoffman had conceded after he lost the race for the NY-23 Congressional District to Democrat Bill Owens. But now he has second thoughts:

By winning the seat vacated by now-Army Secretary John McHugh, Owens became the first Democrat to represent the area in upstate New York in more than 100 years. Continue reading

Conservative Inc.

Aside from the Ron Paul worship, this article seems to sum up the Tea Party movement in the GOP.

There have been posts on amconmag.com about the divisions in the major parties, particularly the GOP. There’s an old saying that you can’t tell the players without a program and it’s a good idea to fully understand what the true divisions are with the Republican Party and the larger Right.

The real division roiling the party right now is between the institutional establishment and Conservative INC. The institutional establishment includes the Republican Party itself along with all the think tanks, media figures, big donors and power brokers in the powers centers of the country (D.C, New York, Hollywood) and in each state (the neocons would be a faction within this group). Conservative INC. of course, is that amalgamation of political organizations, activists, interest groups, lobbyists, and in this day and age online groups with their fat email lists and online magazines along with bloggers who make their living off of “the base”.

It’s not a neat division. There is plenty of overlapping. Fox News for example, went from being Bush II’s palace guard to organzing peasant revolts. Talk radio hosts contracts are held by corporate syndicates but they are the ones closest to “the base” through their programs. Big publishing houses make a killing off the Right market. Corporate donations help to fund many political groups. Each group tries to influence the other and tries to control the other, so it is the ying and yang of the Right in this country.


This division has been in existence since the mid-1980s, since the rise of a Right establishment in Washington once it got into power in 1981. Once upon a time the division was between the Republican Party itself as an institution and the conservative movement but since the NY-23 debacle showed the GOP is no longer in the business of helping GOP moderates win elections anymore, the moderate wing has been reduced to a feather that will soon be shed and the struggle for control of the party is between those who value it as an institution with its own prerogatives and those who wish to use it as an ideologicalal vehicle. And since those who wish this have turned the movement into racket, as all movement generally become, this is why they are referred to as Conservative INC., because like any good business it sells itself as a brand and uses that brand to gain its customers. But beyond its PR and marketing campaign it is at heart an ideology as Austin Bramwell described it. Indeed, Karl Rove’s job, as White House political director during the Bush II reign, was to basically keep these forces in balance and working together, which largely worked until the end of 2006 when defeat smashed the facade of unity brought on by 9-11.

Both Dans, McCarthy and Larison, are right that both sides try enforce rigid discipline and control, one that I think goes beyond producing a “cookie-cutter” approach. Any Ron Paul delegate or alternate who attended the Republican National Convention of 2008 in St. Paul knows full well the free-speech zone was outside the Xcel Energy Center, not inside it. A party obsessed with showing total unity with no dissent that year acted in dirty, unethical and dictatorial ways from preventing either Paul or his delegates from being chosen to the convention or being seen at it (and gave us a good indication of what life inside John McCain’s America would be like). Likewise, the ideolouges have also acted in the manner of “Enforcers of the Doctrine” whether its Club for Growth financed primary candidates or their assaults upon Mike Huckabee or Ron Paul for not being 100 percent support of the dogma on their big issues of taxes or the war or anything else one of their interest groups believes in.

What the Crist/Rubio, Perry/Hutchinson, Ayotte/Lamontange, Illinois Senate GOP primary contests are about is one candidate who represents what institutional establishment thinks are non-ideological  candidates who can win statewide races and another backed by Conservative INC. who will, as Bramwell put it:”see to it that the flame of pure intention is not quelched.”Â

Keep reading…

Do Conservatives Want to Govern?

David Frum has a compelling blog post at FrumForum today entitled, “Can Conservatives Govern?” He is basically contending with idea that has floated around in some circles that the government should have done nothing as the financial system was crashing around last year. Frum notes that while we may quibble with how tools such as TARP were used, government action was necessary to avert a Second Great Depression.

Andrew Sullivan and Marc Ambinder detail a move by the Charleston GOP to censure South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham for basically straying from “conservative principles.” His lists of sins include the following:

Whereas, U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (SC) and John Kerry (MA) have called for a bipartisan bill dealing with “climate change” via a “Cap & Trade” energy bill;

Whereas, the basis of Cap & Trade – global warming caused by carbon emissions – is still in doubt as evidenced by the past decade of cooling temperatures;

Whereas, the people of South Carolina can ill afford the job-killing Cap & Trade bill’s ripple effects on our state’s economy and on personal energy bills;

Whereas, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham supported TARP and has shown a willingness to discuss nationalizing U.S. banking institutions;

Whereas, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham has shown a condescending attitude toward his constituents by calling them “bigots” when they oppose his stance on amnesty for illegal aliens;

Whereas, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham has stated on many occasions that his primary concern is to “be relevant”;

Whereas, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham continues to hold the Republican Party hostage and undermines Republican leadership and party solidarity for his own benefit by joining the “Gang of 10” and the “Gang of 14”;

Whereas, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham – in the name of bipartisanship – continues to weaken the Republican brand and tarnish the ideals of freedom, rule of law, and fiscal conservatism.

Therefore, let it be resolved: The Charleston County Republican Party Executive Committee respectfully requests, with sincere sadness that the South Carolina Republican Party withdraw their resolution commending U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham and that the Charleston Country Republican Party censure U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham for many of the positions he has taken that do not represent the wishes of the people of South Carolina, such as: passing a “Cap & Trade” energy bill, bailing out banks, and granting amnesty for illegal aliens.

Then there was a the Politico story where former GOP congressional candidate Dede Scozzafava believes the current GOP lacks “substance:”

Dede Scozzafava, the Republican congressional nominee who dropped out of New York’s special election last week to endorse Democrat Bill Owens, said Wednesday night that the GOP is “really not based on any sort of substance.”

Speaking with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Scozzafava warned Republicans that “you have ideology that’s really not based on any sort of substance that can move an agenda forward, that can really help people in this country.”

“I don’t think it’s good for the health of our party. Any party that just tries to purge members that might have any sort of independent thinking, I think, eventually will run itself to very much of a minority status,” she continued. “I think any sort of party has to be willing to solve the problems. And in order to solve problems, you have to look at things sometimes differently. And you do have to drive towards some sort of consensus building.”

After seeing all of these stories in one day, I am left not with David Frum’s question. Instead I am left with a far more distrubing question:

Do Conservatives want to govern?

I tend to believe the answer right now is no. To govern means to have ideas that can impact people’s lives. But the GOP is devoid of such ideas and seems perfectly fine in not wanting to devise any. People like Scozzafava and Graham are problem-solvers, which means that at times they will deal with Democrats. Normal people see this as part of the legislative process: we work with other people we might not agree with to gain consensus and get work done.

But when the prevailing mood in a party that working with the other party is akin to making a pact with Satan, you have party that really isn’t that interested in actually governing.

In a post last summer, I talked about how “lifestyle conservatism” is what rules in the GOP today and might do so for a while:

The problem that Republicans face in the near future is between those who see the GOP as a political party, and those who see it as a lifestyle. My guess is that the lifestyle conservatives will be in charge for sometime. How long, I don’t know. But a lifestyle party isn’t going to be a winning party, able to compete with the Democrats.

But it will be a nice party as the GOP ship sinks.