So. Last night the much-bashed Tea Party candidate Christine O’Donnell won the Republican primary election in Delaware.
Michelle Malkin has a round-up of reactions. As she says,
Expect more Washington Republicans to start sounding like Tea Party-bashing libs as their entrenched incumbent friends go down. (Hot Air has the Rove/Hannity video.) [get the link at her site]
That’s it in a nutshell. Grassroots conservatives are wisely sending the Republican machine a message: we’ll vote for an Independent, no matter how shaky he is, if all you’re going to offer us is liberal Republicans who are no better than their Democrat counterparts. And if that means the machine shrinks further, then the blame is on your head, RNC.
A little background:
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Delaware is a very small, staunchly Democrat state. But the fact that the incumbent Congressman (who lost this Senate bid) is a Republican made no difference to the primary voters, because Castle is a machine hack. He’s pro-abortion, pro-gun control and he doesn’t listen. That’s not a winning combination for conservative voters. And in the Republican primaries, conservative voters show up.
Here’s a view from the other side on this race, trying (and failing) to explain it all:
O’Donnell’s win solidifies the hold that the tea party movement has on the GOP. O’Donnell’s defeat of former Gov. and current Rep. Mike Castle in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate is just the latest in a long line of triumphs of the very conservative tea party over the moderately conservative GOP establishment. [my emphasis here — D]
This is simplistic and wrong. To begin with, the GOP is running away from the tea party folks. Also, this pundit conveniently overlooks incumbent John McCain’s thumping of the tea party candidate in Arizona. McCain listened and he moved right, particularly on immigration and border issues, which are literal life-and-death matters in Arizona. McCain was smart: he got the message, then repeated it back to the electorate loud and clear.
Thus conservatives in Arizona voted for McCain. That phenomenon was an important communication to the Republican establishment but the message doesn’t appear to have made it to their door. Could it be the poor mail service in Washington? Does mail from the hinterlands not get delivered inside the Beltway?
This Politico commentator goes on:
But the victories of very conservative candidates like O’Donnell and Sharron Angle in Nevada has made it more difficult for the GOP to wrest control of the U.S. Senate from Democrats.
Correct as far as it goes. But he’s mistaking the intent of the voters — the machine wants to “wrest control” of the U.S. Senate. But for voters, what’s the point in GOP control if it doesn’t differ in kind from Democrat control? What, we need more Olympia Snowes on the Republican side so they can march in lockstep with the Dems?
The voters are telling the GOP to get its own house in order and to begin backing real conservative candidates. Unfortunately, the Republican National Committee doesn’t understand the situation any better than this writer at Politico. Perhaps they drink the same municipal water?
The longer the GOP hacks deafen themselves against what the majority of the electorate is saying — loud and clear — then the longer will they lose. People are demanding change; they are not demanding more professional pols. If the failure to offer them a choice means losses in 2010, so be it. If this means damage to the national party, so be it. After all, what has the national party done for the voters exactly?
Why is it so hard for the RNC to grasp that people have simply quit listening to their the top-down commands? but the former, being deaf and pseudo-Democrat, don’t even know they’re being ignored. Will these primaries teach them anything? One doubts it. People who refuse to listen can’t change.
Fred Barnes succinctly presents the Delaware equation for failure.
Mike Castle might have been a wonderful general election candidate in the Delaware Senate race. But he ran a terrible campaign in the Republican primary.
He acted like a candidate who hasn’t paid an iota of attention to what’s been going in the primaries across the country this year.
I’ll bet this inattention wasn’t an “act”. Like many professional politicians, he didn’t take the tea parties seriously. Given their staying power so far, that was a strategic error.
Corollaries are four:
- One, he didn’t run as a conservative or at least as someone who’d taken a conservative stand on important issues.
Even though he had voted against some of the godzilla legislation, he didn’t bother emphasizing this. Besides, being for gun control is a deal-killer for conservatives.
- Two, he urged people to vote for him because he could win the general election and McDonnell couldn’t. Primary voters in particular are committed to issues, not to strategy.
- Three, like all too many of his peers, he was “insulted” that he had to be seen running against a tea party opponent. How embarrassing for him. As Barnes put it:
Hadn’t he noticed what has happened in other states earlier in the primary season — in Alaska, Utah, Colorado, among others — when candidates like himself were knocked off? The Tea Party candidates haven’t always won, but they’ve proved to be a formidable threat to more credentialed and establishment-oriented candidates.
- And four, personal attacks are lame when Big Problems like the deficit, unemployment and taxes, etc., are looming so large they block the sun. Barnes says O’Donnell’s flaws are “too numerous to count”…but no one cared because she is committed to conservative issues.
There is no question about it: O’Donnell is not going to win the general election; she has way too much baggage. However, the national Republicans are not covering themselves with glory, or even acting rationally, when they go around shooting the tea party contenders in the foot.
Machine Republicans don’t understand basic anatomy here: that’s a Republican foot. In other words, aiming for the appendages of your own body (politic) does harm to the larger organism. And such behavior is a manifestation of a much more serious dissociative disorder among these pols.
But the tea parties embarrass them. How gauche these flyover folks are! Sarah Palin embarrasses them. Does she have to be so totally outside-the-Beltway, so… so redneck?
Poor RNC. They’re hiding under the bed, afraid to face all the leftist intelligentsia. Is there not a man among them who isn’t afraid to stand for principle?
As the Baron says, since they’re so determined to play it this way, we may as well enjoy watching them self-destruct. Then we wait for 2012, hoping they’ll have learned something by the time things get real.