The aftermath of a resounding political defeat is usually a time for introspection and recalibration on the part of the defeated. Now that the parade confetti and inaugural ball party streamers have made their way to beltway area landfills, what’s left of the Republican party has drawn their six-shooters and begun to engage in the traditional post-election circular firing squad.
The most recent entry into this circle exercise is none other than former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (hereafter referred to as Mr. Newt). His current target is none other than the Sith Lord Karl Rove and his Conservative Victory Project (CVC). Evidently Mr. Newt is upset at Rove’s attempt to “bounce” GOP candidates who don’t have a prayer of winning a general election.
Having said that, I feel the need to bring up the fact that Mr. Newt left electoral politics when he resigned the Speakership in 1998 and unceremoniously exited the House of Representatives in 1999. His performance in the 2012 Race for the Oval is memorable only for his discussion of Moon bases. Were it not for his billionaire bankroller, it’s doubtful he would have survived past his first primary defeat.
Love him or hate him, Sith Lord Rove has a pretty good track record when it comes to engineering electoral victory on a national stage. He is largely credited as “the architect” of W’s 2004 presidential victory over the current Secretary of State, John “Lurch” Kerry.
Rove is not without blame for the unmitigated disaster that was the Republican 2012 election performance. The CVC took in a lot of money and in the end didn’t really have the return on investment people were hoping for. The Sith Lord claims it wasn’t really his or CVC’s fault but rather the fault of weak candidates who played well in their respective Republican primary race but were doomed to fail in the general election because they had no appeal to any voter that wasn’t voting Republican anyway.
Simply put, when faced with the arguments put forth by Mr. Newt and Sith Lord Rove, I’m inclined to side with the Sith Lord.
I have neither the time nor inclination to research the 435 House races or the 100 Senate races that were decided last November. What I do know is that Republicans had quite a few races that were completely winnable and yet the Republican candidate was defeated by a profoundly weaker Democratic opponent.
Two examples: Claire McCaskill is a very blue senator running in the deep red state of Missouri. All Todd Akin had to do was maintain himself vertical and have a verifiable pulse and he would have won that race walking away. But no, he had to open his mouth about quite possibly the worst subject upon which he could opine and then keep digging. Not ready for prime-time is the best descriptor I can use on this PG rated blog. That said – he won the three way primary race but succeeded only in defeating himself but also giving unneeded ammunition to the phony “war on women” meme.
The other high profile Republican senate debacle took place in Indiana. Richard Mourdock won a hard fought primary race only to flame out in spectacular fashion by making a phenomenally stupid statement about (again) a horrific subject about which nothing good can be said. Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory yet again.
es, these are but two Senate races. But add those to the other defeats caused by deeply flawed candidates and a pattern is evident. What races would those be? Well, dear reader, imagine a United States Senate without Harry Reid. Was Sharron Angle really the best Nevada could run against that sorry excuse for an elected official? Don’t forget Delaware. Christine O’Donnell? Are you telling me she was the best Delaware had to offer? Really?
For those of you wanting to run the numbers, those four seats would put the Democrats at a 51-49 advantage over the Republicans. I’m sure one or two more seats could have been won by better candidates. Other than the satisfaction of sending Dusty Harry Reid back to Searchlight, I’d really like the Senate to do their [expletive deleted] job and pass a [expletive deleted] budget for the first time in four years. But I digress.
Politics is a contact sport and in the end it’s all about winning. If you don’t win, you can’t do much that matters. I personally subscribe to the Reagan doctrine that I’d rather have someone who agrees with me 70% of the time than one who disagrees with me 100% of the time. I add that mantra to the counsel of William Buckley to “go with the most electable conservative”.
Electability matters, dear Reader. Conservatism works but only if you win the elections necessary to implement it. I, for one, am tired of those who think sending up inarticulate unqualified candidates who only appeal to a small primary voting block is the only road to victory. Conservatism can’t be sold by candidates who are unable to articulate its principles to a general electorate. If the Republican primary system keeps sending up people like Akin, Mourdock, Angle, and O’Donnell, the results will be the same.
Republicans can either learn from the past, or hire this head-shrinker to help them deal with losing.