The Other McCain

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The Great RINO Rip-Off: Murkowski Uses GOP Money to Hire Democrat Staffers

Posted on | September 27, 2010 | 24 Comments

Many who have criticized the stance of Dan Riehl, Marc Levin and myself against Mike Castle in Delaware have accused us of being “purists” or striking what they call a “True Conservative” posture. We are, our critics imply, attempting to position ourselves as Commissars of Conservative Correctness and boss other people around.

Messrs. Riehl and Levin can (and do) speak for themselves, but let me clarify: I enthusiastically supported Scott Brown in Massachusetts, knowing full well from the outset that he was not a 100% conservative hard-liner. Brown promised to be the “51st vote” against ObamaCare — a promise he kept — and his stunning upset in January inspired renewed confidence among conservatives everywhere. Some of Brown’s “compromise” votes have been deeply disappointing, but I nevertheless understand that Massachusetts is not Mississippi or Montana, and sometimes you do the best you can in a difficult political environment.

Furthermore, I have also enthusiastically supported Mattie Fein in CA-36, even though we aren’t entirely eye-to-eye on various social issues. A win for Mattie would be an important win, and whatever our policy disagreements, these are a minor consideration compared to all the good things Mattie believes in.

Other examples could be cited, but I think these two suffice to rebut any accusation of “True Conservative” posturing on my part.

Which brings us to Thomas Lamb’s latest report on Lisa Murkowski’s entirely pointless write-in Senate campaign in Alaska:

In my previous commentary, I stated Murkowski should return campaign donations that were from the Republican party.
And I know it is wishful thinking – so I don’t expect the wishy-washy moderate Republicans like Senator Mitch McConnell to ask for a refund . . .
Now it seems, according to a website, Lisa Murkowski has hired Democratic strategist Cathy Allen:

Seattle political consultant Cathy Allen, mastermind of many a winning Democratic campaign message, has flown to Alaska to help a Republican. She’ll advise U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski in a longshot write-in campaign for re-election. Murkowski’s own party turned her down in Alaska’s Senate primary, in favor of Tea Party conservative Joe Miller.

This amounts to nothing short of political embezzlement. Murkowski received millions of dollars in campaign contributions from Republican donors who, quite naturally, expected her to support Republican policies and advance Republican interests. Instead, she is now trying to defeat the Republican nominee and hiring Democrats to help her do it.

Jim Jeffords, Lincoln Chafee, Arlen Specter, Dede Scozzafava, Charlie Crist — how many repeat performances of this melodrama do you have to watch before you learn to anticipate the denouement?

When the GOP Establishment supports these “centrist” RINOs, the long-term effect is always harmful to the Republican Party. Why? Because by advocating liberal policies, RINOs give Democrats a tissue of credibility for their claim that such policies are “moderate,” which naturally leads to the conclusion that conservative Republicans are unreasonable extremists for opposing such policies.

Murkowski’s hiring of Cathy Allen shows another disastrous impact of the GOP’s support of RINOs. “Personnel is policy,” as the saying goes, and when you elect RINOs, you can be sure that they’ll put up a “No Conservatives Need Apply” sign when it comes to hiring staff, campaign operatives, consultants and vendors. (I previously pointed out that Murkowski’s sore-loser act was fomented by Palin-haters John Bitney and Andrew Halcro.)

One reason the GOP Establishment has drifted off course in recent years is that the Bush administration and Republican congressional leaders were indifferent to the “personnel is policy” factor in staffing decisions. Washington became crowded with lots of squishy centrists and mixed-up neocons who bought into Bush rhetoric about “commpassionate conservatism” and reach-across-the-aisle bipartisanship. These young political professionals function as an echo chamber for the David Brooks types who are constantly telling GOP leaders that the way to win is to strke a middle-of-the-road stance.

Specific examples could be cited — as Erick Erickson occasionally has done — of supposedly “conservative” Republican senators who hire Democrats in key positions like chief of staff. So the fact that Murkowski has hired a Democrat like Cathy Allen to run her write-in campaign is scarcely surprising.

The fact that Murkoski is thereby using Republican money (which she refuses to refund to the donors) to provide employment for Democrat operatives merely makes explicit the kind of betrayals that RINOs usually make behind closed doors.

Murkowski stands out among the recent Backstabber’s Row of RINOs. She was more conservative than Jeffords, Chafee of Specter. But like Charlie Crist, who immediately flip-flopped on every major policy position as soon as he decided to be an “independent,” Murkowski’s write-in campaign shows that her conservatism was always a matter of careerism. She voted for conservative legislation because she believed that this was the best way for her to get herself elected. Now that this no longer serves her self-interest ambition, she has jettisoned any pretension to being conservative — and we see that this was never anything other than a pretense.

If you pay close attention to politics long enough, you start to recognize patterns in such behavior, and Mark Levin has been fighting these kind of battles since he worked for Ed Meese back in the Reagan years. Levin knew exactly what kind of scam Mike Castle and the GOP Establishment were trying to pull off in Delaware.

Castle had been in the House of Representatives for decades. He is (or was) genuinely popular in Delaware, and had been solicited to challenge Senator Biden in 2002 and 2008. But taking on Biden would have been a tough fight, and if he didn’t win, Castle might loses precious position in Congress. So he turned down those tough fights and stayed in the House and, in 2008, let Christine O’Donnell be the GOP’s sacrificial lamb against Biden.

Why do you think O’Donnell got no help from the GOP Establishment in 2008? Don’t you suspect that they wanted her to lose, knowing full well that they could then recruit Castle to run in the 2010 special election?

That kind of clubby insider game happens all the time in politics. The GOP Establishment became the Establishment by playing that game. So a handful of insiders — including NRSC Chairman John Cornyn and Delaware GOP Chairman Tom Ross — decided amongst themselves that Mike Castle would be their candidate for Senate this year, and discouraged every other Republican in Delaware who might have considered entering the primary.

There was one person who didn’t play along with that game, and her name was Christine O’Donnell.

You can love her, you can hate her, you can burn her at the stake — “She turned me into a newt!” — but you have to give Christine the Teenage Witch credit for this: She was willing to stand up to the GOP insiders who thought they had it all lined up.

Those Establishment bastards dragged her name through the mud, and she still beat them.

It’s not really about ideology, you see. There are principles involved that have nothing to do (at least not directly) with whether Mike Castle is pro-choice or supports cap-and-trade. In politics, there are some people who still believe in old-fashioned notions of loyalty and honesty. There are still people who believe that elected officials should be accountable to — and have respect for — the voters who put them in office.

Given the realities of politics in our two-party system, consideration of such matters of principle is sometimes difficult. It is hard for me to say, for example, that Republicans who support the re-election of Sen. John McCain are bad people, even though I wouldn’t vote for John McCain if you put a gun to my head. (David Nolan for U.S. Senate!)

As a top Hayekian public intellectual, I know that everyone must make their own political calculations based on the knowledge available to them. None of us has complete knowledge, and other people’s knowledge of political realities in Arizona might lead them to conclude that something worthwhile might be accomplished by re-electing that two-faced backstabbing son of a bitch.

So while I doubt the judgment of John McCain’s apologists, I do not doubt their good will. At least not always.

The situation is far different in Delaware, just as it was in Alaska. The only reason Lisa Murkowski ever became a senator is because her father was the governor. If dynastic nepotism is to become the organizing principle of the Republican Party, don’t you think we ought to permit the GOP platform committee to have a stab at formalizing this agreement at the next national convention?

People get involved in politics for all kinds of reasons, but seldom has “My Daddy’s the Governor” been sufficient justification to demand that everyone fall in line and vote the way they’re told. Lisa Murkowski got re-elected in 2004 because it was a presidential election year and the last thing Team Bush needed was an ugly internecine fight in Alaska to distract them. So the GOP Establishment suppressed dissent and discouraged challengers and Lisa got re-elected.

And then came 2010.

Let’s face it: This has been the most wild-and-wooly year in GOP history at least since 1992, when Pat Buchanan took on Bush Sr. in the Republican presidential primaries. The Tea Party movement — and the general feeling among grassroots conservatives that GOP leaders were clueless as to how to revive the party’s flagging prospects — produced more multi-candidate primaries than anyone can remember.

It took a lot of stars aligning just right to produce Joe Miller’s miraculous upset win in the Alaska primary, and if Miller hadn’t beaten Murkowski, it’s quite likely that Mike Castle would have won the Delaware GOP Senate primary.

What we have seen — and maybe you haven’t noticed the connections over the past year — is a line of dominoes that tumbled:

  • Rush Limbaugh said of Obama, “I hope he fails.”
  • Pat Toomey’s poll numbers in the Pennsylvania primary convinced Arlen Specter to become a Democrat.
  • The backroom deal between John Cornyn and Jim Greer to pick Charlie Crist in Florida sparked the Not One Red Cent Rebellion.
  • The Doug Hoffman campaign drove Dede Scozzafava out of the NY-23 special election.
  • Scott Brown won in Massachusetts.
  • Charlie Crist quit the GOP.
  • Bob Bennett was defeated in the Utah GOP convention.
  • Sharron Angle beat Sue Lowden.
  • Ken Buck beat Jane Norton.
  • Joe Miller beat Lisa Murkowski.
  • Christine O’Donnell beat Mike Castle.

Maybe I don’t have those events in the correct chronological sequence, and maybe there are other important events I’ve left out. (Commenters are invited to correct and expand this list.) But the pattern is clear: The conservative grassroots have decided they’re sick and tired of the GOP Establishment’s “We Know Better Than You” attitude. They’re tired of the go-along-to-get-along attitude that amounts to a slow-motion retreat before the (supposedly) inexorable advance of liberalism.

Conservatives are tired of being told they have to back down from a fight. They’re tired of the “it’s-his-turn” principle by which the GOP Establishment has forced an unwilling grassroots to accept as their presidential nominees such hopeless losers as Bob Dole and John McCain.

And so, at what seemed in late 2008 and early 2009 to be a low ebb for the conservative movement, these grassroots activists stood up to the GOP Establishment and said, “Fuck you. We’re not going to take it any more.”

We are now five weeks away from an election that will decide whether the grassroots did the right thing.

For myself, I think that the Tea Party movement and the grassroots uprising were long overdue. The GOP has been drifting in the wrong direction ever since 1996, when Bob Dole bailed out during the budget showdown with Bill Clinton and thereby forced House Republicans to throw in the towel over an important fight. The GOP Congress started seriously pork-barrelling in 1998, and the election of George W. Bush actually made matters worse — No Child Left Behind and Medicare Part D headling my own personal list of grievances against Bush-era Republicanism. (Your Mileage May Vary.)

Sooner or later, if the Republican Party was going to continue to be a conservative party in any meaningful sense, there had to come a showdown fight like the one we’ve had these past two years. (Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Bob Barr!)

More often than not, the conservative grassroots have defeated the GOP Establishment in those fights where the two sides of the conflict were clearly defined. Certainly, the out-and-out RINOs have been dealt some of their most decisive defeats since Goldwater beat Rockefeller in 1964.

As usual, the worry-warts are worried and the whiners are whining. I would invite all the eeyores who are now wringing their hands over Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell to look instead at those looming defeats for which we may blame the GOP Establishment.

Months ago, when I was covering Rick Barber’s Tea Party campaign for the GOP nomination in AL-2, I had a chance to see Martha Roby speak and was not impressed. Backed by the Establishment, Roby won the primary. We’ll see whether such a weak candidate can beat that wily Blue Dog Democrat, Rep. Bobby Bright, on Nov. 2.

Being profoundly dubious of Roby’s chances, since the Alabama primary, I’ve basically ignored AL-2, because I couldn’t say anything encouraging, so you won’t hear any more from me on that race until Nov. 3. If Roby pulls it out, fine — I was wrong. But if she loses . . . well, let’s have that argument later.

I will therefore ask all you RINO-hugging Establishment GOP bastards to shut your pieholes about the Tea Party-backed outsiders who won their primaries by beating your precious pet candidates. (And don’t waste your breath trying to convince me that Doug Hoffman is analogous to Charlie Crist. I’ve already explained why that case is unique.)

As Rush Limbaugh likes to say, “It is what it is.” Sharron Angle is not my dream candidate, but I can’t help that now. I hope she beats Harry Reid. Maybe you’ve got a problem with Joe Miller or Rand Paul or Christine O’Donnell. Fine, OK. We got your point. Just bite your tongue for five more weeks and stop sabotaging them.

We’re going to kick Democrat ass on Nov. 2 and then, on Nov. 3, we’ll go back to fighting amongst ourselves. But don’t ever tell us again why we should support someone like Charlie Crist or Lisa Murkowski. We’re not listening to that crap anymore.


24 Responses to “The Great RINO Rip-Off: Murkowski Uses GOP Money to Hire Democrat Staffers”

  1. Nathan Cossey
    September 27th, 2010 @ 7:04 pm

    And this is News? Charlie probably has the same.

  2. richard mcenroe
    September 27th, 2010 @ 7:30 pm

    I keep saying it. This is an election against incumbency itself. We have to clean out the Democrats first as a simple matter of national survival. THEN we clean out the GOP so we can build a future worth surviving in.

    The politicians of the last century aren’t to going to solve the problems they’ve created for this one.

  3. Robert Stacy McCain
    September 27th, 2010 @ 7:30 pm

    My apologies, Nathan. I accidently hit the “publish” button before I was finished and so you and the other readers are actually looking at a work-in-progress. Rather than to un-publish it now, I’m writing and updating on the fly and will eventually get around to the larger conclusion of this story.

    To borrow a joke from Ellen DeGeneres, “My point, and I do have one . . .”

  4. Steve in TN
    September 27th, 2010 @ 7:41 pm

    Riehl went overboard. You haven’t. Nuff said.

  5. Nathan Cossey
    September 27th, 2010 @ 7:57 pm

    No Riehl didn’t go over board he struck where we needed him to.

  6. Robert Stacy McCain
    September 27th, 2010 @ 7:59 pm

    @Steve in TN

    Dan Riehl is Dan Riehl. That he is a savage fighter who never heard of such a thing as a “fair fight,” I freely concede. But having been in a fight or two, I know that when push comes to shove, I want guys like Dan on my side.

    Trust em: There will be tough fights in the future where you find yourself on the same side as Dan, and you will be grateful that he’s on your side.

    I think a lot of people have recently learned why I have so often warned anyone who would listen: Don’t fuck with Dan Riehl.

  7. jefferson101
    September 27th, 2010 @ 10:17 pm

    Dan usually comes closer to my POV than most anyone else does.

    My only issue there is that Dan can be (and is) a bit abrupt for most folks. I don’t have any issue with his conclusions, but it could be noted that he scares some folks off by being so sharp.

    So do I. Which is why I don’t blog. I’m a support function, and I’ll occasionally nudge people toward the correct path. Or nudge them somewhere. They’ll get off the dime, anyway.

    We all got to do what we do. Dan does what he does well. ‘Nough said.

  8. waylay
    September 27th, 2010 @ 11:49 pm

    Don’t fuck with Dan Riehl.

    I prefer not to wrestle with pigs.

  9. Wondering Jew
    September 28th, 2010 @ 12:31 am

    Correct on all counts, Stacy.

    Literally just seeing that snake Murkowski makes me physically ill. If we’re going to have any credibility as a party, we have to defeat her.

  10. DaveP.
    September 28th, 2010 @ 8:03 am

    Modesty forbids discussion of what you DO prefer to do with them, waylay.

  11. molonlabe28
    September 28th, 2010 @ 11:02 am

    Lisa Murkowski is as bad as Dede Scozafavva.

    And I suspect that Castle will follow in her footsteps.

    Just like Charlie Crist.

    Nothing like securing an ignominious end to an otherwise fairly distinguished career in politics.

  12. Kojocaro
    September 28th, 2010 @ 11:52 am

    Yes waylame we know you like to give them anal