Despite endorsements from America's most important and beloved political icons – Palin, Beck, Limbaugh, Armey, Tancredo, Bachmann, and so on – Doug Hoffman somehow managed to lose. Hoffman, a prototypical wingnut and poster boy for the new Palin/Beck version of the GOP, managed to lose a seat last held by a Democrat during the presidency of Franklin Pierce. This hasn't stopped them from declaring victory (my favorite "analysis" has to be Erick the Stupid over at RedState) and, even better, making grand plans for 2010.
When I started prepping the Senate 2010 material – eagerly awaited, no doubt – over the summer Charlie Crist was still on the fence in Florida. I liked him on that fence. Weak GOP incumbent Mel Martinez was smart enough to retire and it seemed a prime target for a Democratic pickup. Not with Crist in the race, though. Crist is extremely popular in Florida and the weak field of Democratic hopefuls couldn't touch him with a ten-foot pole. The RNC, the NRSC, and Republicans everywhere should be on their hands and knees thanking Crist for throwing his hat into the fray at a time of disarray for the party. But emboldened by the daily exhortations of Glenn Beck and the Hoffman "victory" – the kind that actually involves a humiliating defeat – the teabagger party-within-the-party is breaking out the pitchforks and torches to take him down in the primary. That there is nearly no conceivable way Crist could lose that race is irrelevant to these people.
The same holds true for Rob Simmons (who stands a good chance of taking out Chris Dodd in Connecticut) and Matt Kirk in Illinois. What do Crist, Kirk, and Simmons have in common? Well, they stand a chance in hell of winning the general election in their states. They adhere to the classical conception of fiscal conservatism. They don't base their personal political philosophy around a hatred of gays. They can speak intelligibly and occasionally read books. They are all more fond of Jack Kemp than Glenn Beck. All of these things make them Public Enemy 1a to the newly energized, more dumb-assed right wing base.
“It’s kind of like investors in a company saying they’re not going to tolerate it anymore. And that’s what we’re seeing here,” said Eric Odom, executive director of the American Liberty Alliance, a libertarian-oriented group. “We’re already gearing up. This is just the beginning.”
Hear that, GOP? Your people are tired of winning Congressional races anywhere outside of the deep south and the grain belt. Do they think Beck-approved rubes stand a better chance of winning in Illinois or Connecticut than the dreaded "moderate" Republicans? Either they do and they're delusional or they don't and they're willing to slice off their nose to spite their stupid, stupid face. Modern conservatism has gotten progressively less interested in accomplishing anything or having policies that work and progressively more interested in adhering to the sacred tenets of The Faith no matter the cost. But at the same time they have always been fanatically devoted to getting and staying in power. Now that last tether connecting them to reality is being severed. They no longer care if they win elections as long as Glenn Beck pitches a tent over their candidates.
As much as I'm cool with that, I can't help but feel a little depressed looking at what has happened to that party. In politics as in war we prefer to envision our opponents with some dignity – it makes our victory over them worth a little bit more. With the emboldened Teabagging movement slowly devouring the GOP, Democratic victories are starting to feel less like one army defeating another and more like an army firing tear gas into a disorganized mob.