In what I can only believe is coordination with the Senate GOP Leadership because everyone is on the exact same talking point, I am more than a little disappointed with the wailing and gnashing of teeth coming from the Republican commentariat.
The other day, Senator Jim DeMint told Arlen Specter that DeMint would be backing Toomey. Somehow he is to blame for Specter jumping to his natural party. Nevermind that Specter's staff says it is because Specter can't win a Republican primary.
And it is not just that. Everyone from Ramesh Ponnuru to Michael Barone to the Wall Street Journal is collectively wringing their hands about the selfish conservatives and Club for Growth wanting to remain an ideologically pure minority party that can't win the majority because it shuts out squishes.
That's garbage and they should know it.
I, for one, have no problem with a big tent. I welcome Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe. I welcome Rudy Giuliani. I'm fine with Charlie Crist as long as he stays where he is because a real conservative could actually win the Florida Senate seat. I'm fine with John McCain.
I think most Republicans and most conservatives realize we are never going to have a majority without tolerating a certain number of more liberal party members in areas that have decided to shut out conservatives for one reason or another.
But here's the thing: if you are going to wring your hands, save it for someone worthwhile. If you can get worked up about Lincoln Chaffee or Arlen Specter you've lost your moorings.
Exactly what good does it do for the Republican Party, which has a serious credibility problem right now with voters over losing its way, to keep in positions of power those people who caused us to lose our way? As much as someone like John McCain is an annoyance, Arlen Specter has actively worked to undermine not conservatives, but Republicans, on a host of issues from judges to spending. Ask any rank and file Judiciary Committee staffer just how good Arlen was at fighting for the GOP.
Here's the other thing that gets me. All these guys having coronaries because Jim DeMint dared to be principled and all these guys who are convinced that Pat Toomey cannot win are some of the brightest guys I know. But they are being pretty lame on this.
Last I checked the calendar, November 2010 is well over 400 days away. A hell of a lot can happen between now and then. Everyone tends to get in their academic bubble of present polling trends and states in play and then ignore one word, "events." Events can work against us and can work for us. Historically, events work against the party in charge, which helps us. By November 2010, Pennsylvania may be clamoring for a Pat Toomey.
One thing I know for sure is this: no one will be clamoring for a Republican Party in November 2010 that has not found its way back to fiscal discipline. And the GOP is incapable of finding its way back with Arlen Specter in senior leadership. The GOP lost because the public no longer trusted it. The party had decided to barter away people's freedom to the highest bidder and no longer stood for any sort of principles other than holding on to power. A party that stands for nothing does not stand.
Throwing Jim DeMint under the bus for not being a team player and crying that Arlen Specter left us when he was never really with us to begin with gets the Republican Party no where on the road back to the majority.
My friend Andy Roth has a great Reagan quote that sums up nicely the situation:
“A political party cannot be all things to all people. It cannot compromise its fundamental beliefs for political expediency, or simply to swell its numbers. It is not a social club or fraternity engaged in intramural contests to accumulate trophies on the mantel over the fireplace...No one can quarrel with the idea that a political party hopes it can attract a wide following, but does it do this by forsaking its basic beliefs? By blurring its own image so as to be indistinguishable from the opposition party?”
Republicans don't win by being Republicans. They win by providing a reason to choose them over the Democrats. The Party of Arlen Specter could not offer that reason when it was too busy kissing Arlen's ass to keep him in the fold.