CIRCULAR FIRING SQUAD

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.

13 thoughts on “CIRCULAR FIRING SQUAD”

  • Picking up from a notion raised by Desargues yesterday, there's an oddly Soviet quality about the Beckian tea-bagging right, to wit: neither competence nor a track record is really an issue in picking their candidates–only party loyalty matters. A large part of the reason the Soviets turned their nation into such a staggering clusterfuck was their method of choosing to appoint and promote on the basis of doctrinal adherence:

    "If he's a good member of the Party, he's a good candidate for the position of overseer of the Chernobyl facility."

    "But he doesn't have an advanced degree in applied physics!"

    "Are you questioning the tenets of the Party, comrade? No? I thought not. Appoint Comrade Dumbfuckski at once!"

    (Kaboom.)

    What amazed me about Hoffman is what a staggeringly godawful candidate he was. Whatever his beliefs, he was utterly unfit for the position–no experience in government, no knowledge of the issues or of his constituents, no ability to speak in public, no nothing. He simply had nothing to offer except the approval of the higher-ups, who felt that he talked-the-talk well enough to satisfy their know-nothing biases.

    Which raises the question–what if he'd won? What kind of job could he possibly have done? Weren't the Bush years evidence of the fact that, whether or not you agreed with their agenda, the people in the administration were staggeringly *bad* at their jobs, in large part because they were hired not for what they could *do*, but for what they *believed*? If the rest of us didn't have to live under the government such people produce, I'd be tempted to wish the Hoffmans of the world nothing but victories, just to see the looks on the faces of their electors when their houses burn to the ground because the fire department got privatized to a ponzi schemer.

  • The level of up-is-downism is quite mindbending. The Republican was far too liberal to win in that district, which is why the voters elected a Democrat and sent Nancy Pelosi another solid vote. I know politics and PR is all about framing disasters with a smile (from 1940-1933, Brits made a big deal out of the "miracle" they pulled off at Dunkirk, almost as if it wasn't a crushing defeat that threw them off the continent and forced them to abandon all their weapons and vehicles and supplies), but this is just totally unmoored. And they want to take it national! And they've gotten every person in the party to kowtow to their demands (Gingrich has already done his humiliating walkback).

    And when the Democrats lose 10-20 house seats in 2010 (which always happens in a president's first midtem – see 1982, 1990, 1994 – unless there's a huge disruptive terror attack) they'll think their kamikaze approach to politics is working and they'll double down on it in 2012. I can't wait.

  • The party line nominations (and the really apt Soviet analogy) remind me of Bush hiring all those Christian-college grads instead of qualified candidates, as well as Mother Church anointing the devout to high secular station historically: it not only rewards friends, but it keeps them under the influence, if not control, of the big players. Everything is peachy until you think for yourself or vary from lockstep, Comrade Tool. So don't.

    Cons love hierarchy. I don't know if there is a Ralph Reed or Karl Rove or cabal of programmers who are hustling the GOP into these weird waters; or if those hypothetical directors are cynical puppeteers or true fanatics — but I wonder. And the disinformation campaign continues.

  • I think it's oil and gas money pulling these strings. I've developed synesthesia–every time I see the word libertarian I smell David Koch's money. If so, getting Hoffman elected wasn't the point—pressuring potential and present candidates to move far right was.

    We see the tea-baggers win control over the "intellectuals" and it doesn't make sense, but the tea-baggers were always tools to be used to achieve an agenda. They're far too confused and ignorant to be anything else. I could swear there is method to Beck's madness as well.

  • Beck dressed in a Soviet officer's uniform on his book cover is starting to make sense. The Republic Party has always been jealous of the Soviets for their power and control. They even stole their party color (red) from the Commies. At least when the Soviet Union collapsed there were pieces of the Iron Curtain for souvenirs, what will we have to remember them by when the Republic Party becomes the Whigs of the 21st Century (very apt as the Whigs became the Republic Party in the 19th Century or was it the Know-Nothings). We need to continue to encourage Beck, Palin and everybody at Faux Snooze so that will happen.

  • Well Dryden, part of the problem is that they see it like this: Sozzafava still had like 6% of the vote in NY-23 even after she dropped out and threw her support behind Owens. By their logic, that 6% represents the victory margin for Hoffman; if only that derned lib'rul RINO hadn't been in the race at all, they'd surely have voted for Hoffman, and that would have made him win.

    The problem is that they can't conceive of anyone who isn't hardline. Their brains aren't capable of processing the notion of someone who would normally vote Republican, but the candidate is *too* batshit for their tastes so they'll take the Democrat. These people have been steeped in the "never ever elect a Democrat for any reason EVER" culture and mythos that the Becks, Coulters, and Malkins of the world have brainwashed them into for so long that they can't concieve of principled individuals that will not support a clearly insane or incompetent candidate just because he's on their party line.

    They misunderestimate the Palin effect: How many people, who might have otherwise voted Republican or simply not voted at all, voted Democrat in 2008 because they felt strongly that Palin must not be allowed anywhere near a position of national political power?

    They firmly believe that Sozzafava's 6% are reluctant converts to the new Religion of Conservatism. They can't fathom that it might be the 6% of people who side with Republicans, but not with Loonies.

  • "And when the Democrats lose 10-20 house seats in 2010…"

    I'm currently wondering how big that number will be. If a bunch of teabaggers win primaries and run against even a crappy Democrat, we could see a smaller turnover.

    However, I think even if Dems gained 10-20 seats (nearly an impossible goal traditionally), the media (let alone Beck) would focus only on the one district that a Blue Dog lost to a Tea Partier and how that was clearly a mandate for Obama to start another war with some brown people somewhere.

  • Interest insights, amigos. Dryden's comment resonated with my work life. What I saw in the auto industry is people get promoted who adhere to the corporate party line. It's a pseudo-intellectualized method of sucking up to authority. Not only does it remove competence from the equation, but it assures a continuously narrowing view-point in the board room, leading to stagnation, and a loss of innovation, or any other kind of constructive thought process.

    It never occurred to me to ask this question until now – but could this be part of why many American businesses are having their asses handed to them by foreign competition?

    Cheers!
    JzB the inquisitive trombonist

  • An afterthought:

    What Beck, Palin, teabaggers, et cet. promote is not conservatism. To Ed's point in the last paragraph, they are morons preaching idiocy to fools.

    The Republic party deserves to dry up and blow away. For the good of the world, I hope it happens. The Democrats now occupy the centrist-conservative, pro-corporate position that was the traditional Republic party focus. There's room on the left for a new, genuinely liberal political force to emerge. Why is it not happening?

    Cheers!
    JzB the slow-thinking trombonist

  • BaileysandBreastmilk says:

    On one hand looking at the global decline of Conservatism in the "Western" world is surely making the world a better and safer place.

    However the US only has 2 political parties, both very similar to an outsider. If one party fails or ceases to become an effective opposition what kind of Democracy will the US have?

    I think the US needs more than 2 similar Political parties. A raft of parties where voters choose their reresentatives based on their local policies must surely be the way forward and may lead to a real democracy.

    This would encourage alliances and coalitions leading to powersharing and would hopefully make bi-partisenship a reality rather than a buzz word.

    Seperating the Christian Right from the GOP would be good for the planet hopefully encouraging them to quietly wait on a hill for the Rapture whilst the rest of us continue to deal with reality.

    Proably just a pipe dream though…………………………..

  • Displaced Capitalist says:

    @jazz:

    It's not happening because, although the democrats are centrist conservatives, they're about the furthest left this nation has right now. Any attempt to create a party further to the left will result in splitting the votes and guaranteeing that wingnuts will be sitting in the White House for 8 years. (Nader anyone?)

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