As I walked out of my hotel room this morning, I was greeted by the blaring headline in USA Today: “Tea Party's wins fuel a 'civil war' within GOP”. This headline set my blood to boiling more than any of the arguments over Castle vs. O’Donnell in the last week. I’m just your average rube, so my first impression was “what a clueless reporter!” But after a little bit of reflection, I recalled Jim Geraghty’s September 2nd report from his old political mentor, Obi-wan. The key point that he made is that the Democrats will use their control of the Media at every turn to try and change the narrative.
Remember that Politico piece about the daily phone call of Rahm Emanuel, James Carville, Begala, and George Stephanopoulos on the White House line of the day? ABC News has been tracking pretty accurately on the White House various pitches this spring and summer — the Tea partiers are haters or Timothy McVeigh types — then the whole setup for the NAACP convention launched the “they’re all racist” theme, etc. So keep an eye on ABC, especially Stephanopoulos and also First Read and Politico — they’re usually the first-wave transmitters of the White House line. Believe me, they’ve already got a pollster or two who’s ready to bend some numbers and journalists ready to write about the “sudden Democratic surge.” I’d love to know which week they have picked for the “Democrats are back in business” story. They have tried it twice this summer, but neither polls nor events carried the storyline any further. They will badly need the networks’ news departments to come through if there is a real domestic terrorist incident or some ugly display by someone on the right.
The bolding above shows where the narrative predicted fits exactly with the focus of the USA Today article. The Tea Party represents a bunch of extremists who are taking control from the sensible Republican establishment.
*deep breath to keep from breaking out in an uncontrolled stream of obscenities*
We have been here before. In Barry Goldwater’s 1964 acceptance speech of the Republican nomination, he offered this famous line: “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!” The first line is what we all remember, but equally important is the second line. Moderation is not a virtue and does not lead to the pursuit and defense of liberty. It only encourages creeping acceptance of the status quo, with no memory of the incremental poor choices that led to the current morass.
I apologize, I can’t recall if I read this here or on Ace in the last few days, but someone had a very good analogy for the Tea Party. Looking back at the rise of the Solidarity movement in Poland, it became an unstoppable political force when the people took to the street and suddenly realized there are more of us than them. This is where the Tea Party is today, it has captured a populist mood that is saying “enough is enough, I have to be fiscally responsible in my personal life and damn it, the Government is going to have to also, or we will replace them”.
The media lapdogs are falling into line, having been given their talking points. The Tea Party is a bunch of extremists, and is bringing Civil War to the Republican Party. Oh noes! Suddenly a bunch of leftists, who 99% of the time would love nothing more than to drink their Starbuck’s lattes which watching the Republican Party self destruct, helpfully rushes to the rescue to save “those hardworking public servants who are being unfairly kicked out for the sin of being moderate”. We are all supposed to shed tears and punish these mean meanies in November.
Meanwhile the Democrat Party strategists and the professional whiners over at the Huffington Post, rub their hands together hoping that the GOP will self destruct through internecine warfare. They hope for a GOP version of the Battle of Antietam.
At a crucial moment, Confederate Maj. Gen. A.P. Hill's division arrived from Harpers Ferry and launched a surprise counterattack, driving back Burnside and ending the battle. Although outnumbered two-to-one, Lee committed his entire force, while McClellan sent in less than three-quarters of his army, enabling Lee to fight the Federals to a standstill. During the night, both armies consolidated their lines. In spite of crippling casualties, Lee continued to skirmish with McClellan throughout September 18, while removing his battered army south of the river.
They hope that we will fight among ourselves, fight to a standstill, allowing the Democrats to minimize their losses in November and retain control of Congress.
Well, I offer an alternate view of the Civil War that they will experience, Sherman’s March to the Sea.
Sherman's March to the Sea is the name commonly given to the Savannah Campaign conducted across Georgia during November-December 1864 by Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman of the Union Army in the American Civil War. The campaign began with Sherman's troops leaving the captured city of Atlanta, Georgia on November 15 and ended with the capture of the port of Savannah on December 21. It inflicted significant damage, particularly to industry and infrastructure (as per the doctrine of total war), and also to civilian property. A military historian wrote that Sherman "defied military principles by operating deep within enemy territory and without lines of supply or communication. He destroyed much of the South's potential and psychology to wage war.
This is not bravado or swagger. This is the true reading of the mood of the electorate and the forces that led to the defeat of establishment candidates.
The USA Today article tries to justify its assertion by going to some of the usual suspects.
It's official: There is now a civil war within the Republican Party," said Mark McKinnon, a former adviser to the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush and John McCain. "The good news for Republicans is the Tea Party is capturing the anti-establishment energy in America. The bad news is that includes the Republican establishment.
Well now there is an astute piece of analysis from a former advisor to both Bush AND McCain! But wait, what was the context for our last discussion of Mark McKinnon? Oh, yes it was here.
I would simply be uncomfortable being in a campaign that would be inevitably attacking Barack Obama," said McCain adviser Mark McKinnon in an interview with NPR's "All Things Considered." "I think it would be uncomfortable for me, and I think it would be bad for the McCain campaign.
How did that bit of advice turn out for us?
*another deep breath to keep from breaking out in an uncontrolled stream of obscenities*
There have been several good post mortems written after the Delaware primary. One of my favorite “balanced” analyses is from Sean Trende at Real Clear Politics.
4. No, this doesn’t mark the end of the GOP … Republicans are currently positioned to win the most House seats that they've won in an election since 1946. Republican candidates for the House are running away with races in evenly-matched swing districts. They are competitive in House districts in Maine that are typically 3-8 points more Democratic than the country, and in a Central Valley district that is five points more Democratic than the country. And if Republicans are competitive in CA-20, what does the polling look like in the 116 districts Democrats occupy that are as or more conservative than that district? There is also a chance for the GOP to win the most Governorships in 130 years - numbers that don't support the view of a party in decline.
I think this is a very important point. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that the same energy and Tea Party activism that has brought us Mike Lee, Ken Buck, Marco Rubio, and Joe Miller has also brought us O’Donnell. Sweeping political forces are not going to moderate (there is that word again) themselves for the benefit of one race where a better tactical choice might have been made. It is the classic discussion of strategy versus tactics. Political consultants are focused on the tactics of the immediate, trying to squeeze every last victory available for the party that hires them. The Tea Party is focused on a long range strategic imperative, trying to permanently change the culture of Washington, even if it means forgoing a Senate majority this year. They view it as perfectly acceptable to wait another election cycle if it means increased fidelity to the Constitution and smaller government in the future.
I think that John Podhoretz captured the essence of the Tea Party influence over the GOP pretty well the other day.
The presumption among delighted people on the left-liberal side is that all this roiling on the right suggests a party in disarray and a movement intent on cannibalizing itself. That’s one way to look at it. The other is that the GOP is actually expanding and seizing the populist mood that seems to be the national direction — even though the GOP leadership, especially in the Senate, is finding the whole business unnerving and destructive.
I invite the Left to enjoy their momentary euphoria. They fundamentally do not understand the Tea party. Heck, even the GOP leadership is having a hard time understanding, it would be insane to expect the Statists to get it. Meanwhile, November 2nd inches closer, when the Left will find themselves in the cross hairs of a political tsunami that has been practicing their political power, fund raising ability, and ground game on their political allies. What do you think they are going to do to their political enemies?
P.S. One of the most fascinating facts regarding Sherman’s March for me is, “Sherman's personal escort on the march was the 1st Alabama Cavalry Regiment, a unit made up entirely of Southerners who remained loyal to the Union.”