We’ve had a lively dialogue on the frontpage over this issue, and I know it’s probably wearing thin. But I feel compelled to respond to Alex’s first post of the day.
Before I do that, let me state this. Specter is our opponent. It is the duty of all good Republicans to do what they can to see Arlen Specter not re-elected and to take this Senate seat back for the Republicans. Those who are right now making a political martyr out of Senator Specter are doing a disservice to the Republican Party. The debate over Specter-Toomey ended yesterday. The job of Republicans now is to defeat Arlen Specter.
1. Why are you celebrating Specter’s defection while championing Norm Coleman, who was ranked just as moderate as Specter in the National Journal’s 2007 rankings?
3. Which party does Arlen Specter belong in? Is he a DINO now? You praise Ben Nelson as being a reasonable Democrat. Is Arlen Specter a reasonable Democrat?
5. Tom Coburn once told me that he would not have welcomed Joe Lieberman into the party if he had wanted to switch. Do you agree?
The first question makes a poor assumption. It assumes that all that matters is the 2007 National Journal ratings. Specter has an entire career of screwing conservatives. Take a look at American Conservative Union Ratings and you’ll see that Norm Coleman has a career ACU rating of 68.83% v. 44.47% for Specter. In addition, while Coleman may be a moderate, he does share common cause with many conservatives on the pro-life issues as well as other key conservative points. Coleman may have disappointed conservatives from time to time, but he hasn’t turned annoying conservatives into performance art as Senator Specter has.
With regards to Senator Specter, I would consider a Democrat capable of being reasoned with. The same category I’d place Senator Nelson and Senator Lieberman in. That doesn’t mean that I’d want either of these three gentlemen in the Republican Party. I’d like there to be people on the other side who I can genuinely respect as capable reasonable human beings and not just a party of shrill left-wing Zombies. So I would agree with Dr. Coburn.
2. Are you aware that the ladies from Maine got more cut from the stimulus bill than any of the efforts of the likes of Jim DeMint?
And it’s still far too big. Once one begins talking about these hundreds of billions dollar bills, it really doesn’t matter. One might as well say, “Thanks to the ladies from Maine, they only shot you ten times rather than twelve times.” Great, but I’m still dead.
4. Do you agree with Jim DeMint when he says that he’d rather have a party of 30 senators who all think like him than a majority party with people like Arlen Specter in it? How, then, do you intend to pass conservative legislation?
Actually, DeMint didn’t says Senators who all thought like him, but rather, “”I would rather have 30 Republicans in the Senate who really believe in principles of limited government, free markets, free people, than to have 60 that don’t have a set of beliefs.”
I wouldnt’ agree with DeMint that far, because in that situation you lose 70-30. I’d like there to be 30 Senators like Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn, 22 like my Senators Jim Risch and Michael Crapo who are not always right but most of the time get it right and their hearts are in the right place, seven like Norm Coleman and George Voinovich who are squishy on some issues but can win their seats, and two like the ladies from Maine who we only keep around because we couldn’t possibly get anyone more conservative.
John Hawkins has a pretty good piece on this I’d reccomend:
The majority of Republican voters are conservative and we provide most of the money, the volunteers, the ideas, the energy, and the enthusiasm. We conservatives are involved with politics because we have principles and ideals we believe in deeply and want to see them implemented.
Cutting to the chase, we conservatives feel deeply betrayed by what has happened over the last 8 years. The GOP managed to get control of all three branches of government and other than a couple of great Supreme Court Justices, the Right has very little to show for it.
We suffered through Bush’s selection of Harriet Miers, the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, the GOP trying to force amnesty and open borders on the country, growing deficits, increasing government, a GOP sponsored takeover of banks, a President who refused to defend himself or conservatism publicly, and a “Republican elite” in DC who often seemed to hold their biggest supporters in contempt.
Let me give you a comparable example:
Imagine you’re the owner of a small business and you have a problem employee (the Republican Party). He shows up late. He takes two hour lunches. He won’t do his work. He makes fun of you to the other employees. It gets so bad that it affects your business and you start to lose money, but unfortunately, with the job market in your area, replacing him would be almost impossible.
Now, after a few months of this, how much patience are you going to have with this guy when you ask him why he isn’t doing what you told him to do? Zero, right?
Well, that’s where conservatives are with the Republican Party. We’re not interested in excuses. Exhortations to “be reasonable” aren’t going to work. After eight years of being sneered at by arrogant incompetents who owe their jobs to us, we’re not really in the mood for compromise.
Which brings us to the moderates in the GOP. Make no mistake about it, the GOP needs moderate voters and moderate politicians. We cannot expect a hard core conservative to win a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans 3 to 2. We can’t expect a Republican senator from Vermont or California to be as conservative as a Republican senator from Oklahoma or Georgia. Yes, people like this can make conservatives pull their hair out at times, but it’s impossible for us to have a majority or get things done without them.
However, the flip side to this is that moderates are not the majority of Republicans, they’re not ideologically coherent as a group, and they simply don’t bring enough manpower, money, or energy to the table to drive a successful political party. What that means is moderates have to be the Robin to our Batman. Conservatives, who have stronger beliefs, more numbers, and just bring so much more to the Party are not going to happily fall in line over the long haul in a moderate Republican Party.
Indeed, if moderates want to win and have seats, conservatives need to be happy at the results of the people they elected and you need a thriving conservative movement that’s actually accomplishing something worthwhile. If that’s happening, you don’t have huge challenges to moderates.
On moderates, I would probably also have a narrower of moderates in most cases, somebody in the Al D’Amato/Norm Coleman range (60-80%) rather than people like Specter. And folks like Snowe and Collins can be tolerated only if that’s the best we can get.
In addition, I think there are some things that can generate some worthy pariah status. Speaking of which, Senator Olympia Snowe writes in the New York Times:
It is for this reason that we should heed the words of President Ronald Reagan, who urged, “We should emphasize the things that unite us and make these the only ‘litmus test’ of what constitutes a Republican: our belief in restraining government spending, pro-growth policies, tax reduction, sound national defense, and maximum individual liberty.” He continued, “As to the other issues that draw on the deep springs of morality and emotion, let us decide that we can disagree among ourselves as Republicans and tolerate the disagreement.”
OF course, Snowe quotes this to argue, “Hey, lay off on Collins and me like Reagan said.” It seems Senator Snowe hasn’t bothered to read the actual quote. It’d have some validity if Pat Toomey’s primary reason for a primary challenge to Specter was abortion, but it wasn’t. Voters began to call Specter “Benedict Arlen” when he voted for a $787 billion stimulus package that he, Snow, and Collins could have killed. This was the final straw for Pennsylvania conservative.
How can you claim to be for “restrained government spending” when you support $787 billion monstrosity that’s primary function is to be a Christmas tree for every liberal interest under the sun. This betrayal came in exchange for parochial Maine and Pennsylvania pork, unconcerned with the national interests. Don’t claim defense under any quotes about “restraining government spending” after voting for Obama’s stimulus.