The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Dear Ace: ‘A Choice, Not an Echo’

Posted on | November 3, 2010 | 14 Comments

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — OK, after the last post, I promised I was going to go back to sleep, but somebody in the comments said that Ace of Spades was “bitching and moaning . . . that the tea party cost us DE et al.”

Because I didn’t see the aforesaid bitching and moaning, I can’t address any specific complaint by Ace. Let me say, however, that it is wrong to blame “the Tea Party” for the Senate defeats in Delaware and Nevada and the apparent Murky comeback in Alaska.

Nor, I think, can “the Tea Party” be blamed for the double-wipeout in California. I always felt that Whitman and Fiorina would either both win or both lose. If either of them melted down, the other would go down with her. And it was Whitman who melted down over that illegal maid thing — an unfair liberal media hit, but it took her off-message during a crucial phase of the campaign and she never recovered her balance.

Note to future Republican candidates: Do you own damned laundry and wash your own damned dishes. If you have ever employed a domestic servant named “Maria,” please don’t run for office as a Republican.

Mike Murphy, $90,000 a month. Meg Whitman, 41%.

Attaboy, Mike!

Let me continue with California for a minute: Back in August, when I spoke to an NRCC official about complaints that they weren’t helping challengers in California, all I heard was “Van Tran! Van Tran!”

Yeah, and the NRCC’s pet only got 42% against Loretta Sanchez.

Look at the rest of the results in California: The only GOP challenger who appears to have won (and you should put a “too close to call” asterisk beside this) was the entirely unheralded Andy Vidak in CA-20. Tim Cavanaugh and Jon Fleischman each have their own thoughts on the fucked-upness of the California GOP. My friend Joe Fein at Valley of the Shadow blog has been talking about this forever, and during my two trips to California this year, I heard a lot about the situation.

OK, now to the assertion that “the Tea Party” (scare-quotes necessitated by the way some people have turned that phrase into an all-purpose epithet for “Republicans we don’t like”) screwed the pooch in winnable Senate races.

Elections are contests between two candidates, which are fought out by rival campaign teams. Good candidates with good campaigns win, and bad candidates with bad campaigns lose. So when the election is over, the question for the losers is, “Was the candidate bad, or did the campaign make mistakes?”

That’s really a distinction without a difference, because the candidate is the de facto CEO of the campaign. If the field coordinator is a fuckup, well, who hired the field coordinator? For the campaign staff to point the finger at the candidate, or vice-versa, is therefore an atavaistic and unproductive exercise in blame-shifting.

I never had much confidence in Sharron Angle as a candidate. On the other hand, I really liked Christine O’Donnell. Both lost, and studying the reasons why they lost would be a worthwhile exercise — an exercise, however, that no one will pay me to conduct, so I’ll spare you my brilliant insights in that regard.

The question raised by Ace’s alleged “bitching and moaning” (which, I again emphasize, I haven’t actually seen) is whether other Republican candidates could have won in Delaware or Nevada.

Hypotheticals are always tricky. When you’re second-guessing Lee’s tactics at Gettysburg, your own plans are always executed flawlessly. So it is in election post-mortems. It is a lot easier to imagine the victories of Sue Lowden in Nevada and Mike Castle in Delaware than it actually would have been to achieve those objectives. And, hey, if you can’t win your own party’s primary, what does that say about your prowess as a candidate?

Lowden might have done OK against Harry Reid. But if she couldn’t excite Republicans in the primary, what makes anyone think she could have appealed to independents in the general election?

As for Mike Castle: Fuck Mike Castle.

Fuck everyone who ever supported Mike Castle. And fuck everyone who thinks there would have been anything gained by electing Mike Castle to the Senate.

If the only way the GOP can win a Senate majority is by electing useless turds like Mike Castle, we’ll just have to learn to live without a Senate majority.

In case nobody noticed, once the primary season was over, I tried to turn my attention toward House campaigns, figuring that every extra seat that could be won there mattered a helluva lot more than whether Mark Kirk got elected to in Illinois. And there is some very good news to report on the House side.

Ace calls our attention to a good news story by Jonathan Allen at Politico: Massive wipeout of Blue Dog Democrats.

Oh, hell, yes.

If you don’t understand why it is such a strategic imperative that Republicans defeat “moderate” Democrats, you don’t understand anything about politics.

The only way for Republicans to function as a viable alternative to Democrats, as Phyllis Schlafly explained more than four decades ago, is to offer voters “a choice, not an echo.”

If all the GOP offers voters is Liberalism Lite, or if Democrats are allowed to represent their agenda as “centrist” or “moderate” — so that opposition is pre-emptively defined as “extremism” — Republicans will lose their political raison d’etre.

This doesn’t mean that every Republican has to be an ideological clone of Jesse Helms. It does mean, however, that when it comes down to R-vs.-D on Election Day, voters never have to wonder which is the more conservative of the two candidates.

Whatever the short-term benefits of electing a useless turd like Mike “Me, Too!” Castle, the long-term effect would have been bad for the GOP.

So the strategical upshot is that conservatives should work to defeat Democrat Blue Dogs by exposing the phoniness of their “centrism” and never — ever — support a RINO in a primary.

This isn’t a game of posturing as a “True Conservative.” It’s about winning elections. Polls consistently show that more people identify as “conservative” than as “liberal.” Thus, if we can make elections a choice between conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats . . .

Well, as Reagan said of the Cold War, the desired outcome is, “We win. They lose.”

Comments

  • Malonth

    Another problem Whitman and Fiorina had is what I call Arnold fatigue. You see we had a wealthy celebrity who’s first name is Arnold who decided that he would make a great “Republican” Governor even though he never had an iota of experience in government. That did not work out so well!

  • Brian72

    Holy crap Susan.

    That was…well…hot.

    I’ll be in my bunk.