[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; send your tips here.]
Really, if you haven’t already, you should make James Taranto’s Best of the Web a daily read. It’s a good mix of humor and sharp analysis. Yesterday’s commentary on the election, for instance, sounds just about exactly right. And it’s pure comment bait:
It’s hard to dispute the premise that Republicans would have been more likely to win the Senate races in Colorado, Delaware and Nevada had the establishment candidates prevailed in the primaries. But Graham, Lott and Frum overreach in seeing vindication for the party establishment in those losses.
For one thing, had the establishment had its way, the Republican caucus in the next Senate would include Arlen Specter and Charlie Crist–assuming those men would have beaten their Democratic opponents–instead of Pat Toomey and Marco Rubio…
It’s a bit odd for the GOP establishment to be blaming the Tea Party for the outcome of this year’s Senate elections. The party did gain six seats, its biggest pickup since 1994. By contrast, the Republicans lost six seats in 2006 and eight in 2008, when the Tea Party didn’t yet exist. True, they picked up four in 2004, but this year they held those and every other seat they carried back then.
Sure, primary voters probably could have chosen more wisely in Colorado, Delaware and Nevada. In future elections, Tea Party activists and Republican voters would do well to think more about electability. A rough-edged right-winger is better positioned to win in Kentucky than in Colorado. A liberal like Mike Castle may be the only kind of Republican who’s electable in a state like Delaware–something conservatives in Maine may want to take into account as Olympia Snowe faces re-election in 2012.
On the other hand, as the Utah example shows, some states are so conservative that when the rightmost candidate beats an incumbent in the Republican primary, the general-election outcome is virtually assured. And Lindsey Graham is up in 2014.
Someone once said on a blog (I have little hope of tracking down the original comment) that a huge part of the fault in the Delaware situation is the failure of the GOP’s establishment to recognize that the republicans wanted a more conservative nominee than Castle and to find a better alternative than O’Donnell. And let’s remember that many of O’Donnell’s problems had nothing to do with her political beliefs, and had everything to do with her personal shortcomings. The fact is years ago O’Donnell decided she wanted to be a celebrity conservative. So she went on MTV and on Bill Maher, and behaved in ways that drew attention to herself. And a lot of what she did came back to bite her in the hindquarters. Not to mention her resume problems, consisting of 1) not very much political or practical experience, and 2) she lied at least once (that we know of) about her resume. Eventually her reputation for flakiness got so bad that when she correctly stated something about the constitution, half the world laughed at her before the truth got its boots on. But even then Coons had to promise to extend the Bush tax cuts and Gawker felt the need to make the most disgusting attack on a political candidate I have ever seen. Imagine, then instead that the GOP establishment picked a conservative as likeable and serious as, say, Marco Rubio, to run in Deleware? I think it is fair to say that a Marco Rubio would have been every bit as competitive as Castle would have been—maybe more, because excited donors would be willing to give more to a true conservative. But on the other hand, while the GOP establishment made a mistake in failing to find a polished conservative, the fact is that on election day the base picked the worse candidate.
The answer is that both sides have to work together if we are going to take back the Senate and the Presidency in 2012. The establishment has to be more open to the input of the Tea Party. They cannot get their energy without taking their guidance. But at the same time, the Tea Party needs to be more realistic on the concept of electability and choose less flawed candidates. Still all around I would give the Tea Party an A- for its conduct in the election and the republican establishment a C+, largely for not screwing it up too much.
At least that is what I think. Reasonable people can disagree, and surely will.
Update: Krauthammer is usually insightful, but I found this analysis strange. On one hand he is saying that there is nothing unusual about such a massive swing. But on the other hand, he writes that “Tuesday was the electorate’s first opportunity to render a national verdict on [the Democrats’] manner of governance. The rejection was stunning.”
In other news Howard Dean’s spokesmodel spontaneously told us he was not challenging Obama for the primary electon, which Andrew Malcom of the LA Times considered dubious as a denial: “To prove this denial theory, tonight at dinner, while grinding the pepper, volunteer to your spouse out of the blue that you are definitely not cheating with someone else.”
[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]