FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
On Senator Cornyn’s Explanation of the Crist Endorsement
Frankly, Senator, that's just not good enough.
If you haven’t read Senator Cornyn’s post from this morning on the NRSC endorsement of Governor Charlie Crist over Marco Rubio in the open Republican primary for retiring Senator Mel Martinez’s seat, go here and read it now, and be sure to thank the Senator for taking the time to post a response to our concerns about his actions and decisions as head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
I have a few comments and concerns about the Senator’s actions, and about the ideas expressed in his post here today.
Florida Governor Charlie Crist (R) may be a shoo-in for Mel Martinez’s Senate seat in terms of sheer electability. However, it strikes me as being very vaild to ask whether we (i.e., the GOP) want to elect someone to represent our party and our brand in most exclusive club in the nation who is a proven tax-hiker and runaway spending supporter.
Further, if, as Senator Cornyn has said, blowback over tax increases and failed Stimulus spending promises to be a major factor in bringing out Republican voters (and in pulling independent voters away from the Democratic party) in 2010, do we really — and think about this, please — do we really want our nominee for the U.S. Senate to be someone who was on the wrong side of both of those issues?
As the Senator said in his post, the GOP isn’t a monolith; no successful party is. The Republican parties of Texas and Georgia don’t equal the Republican parties of New York and Minnesota, because values and people are different in those different places, and so a Republican won’t necessarily be the same thing in both. Unfortunately, in trying to make his case about this reality, Senator Cornyn decided to adopt the Obama-esque tactic of hastily constructing a strawman and swatting it down for the purpose of looking both smart and reasonable.
This morning, the Senator wrote, “Some believe that we should be a monolithic Party…comprised only of people who agree with us 100 percent of the time. Excuse me, Senator, but with all due respect that’s utter tripe, and you know it.
The argument against the NRSC’s endorsement of Crist isn’t being made by people who want to Assimilate Florida Into The Monolith. In fact, many of the Republicans who are standing up to the NRSC and Senator Cornyn on this aren’t even doing so out of opposition to Charlie Crist becoming the prospective GOP nominee for the Sunshine State’s open Senate seat. Rather, the argument is being made by those who oppose the head of the official Senatorial campaign committee — a man who has been assimilated into the inside-the-beltway Washington world — bringing his Beltway-based organization into an open primary and throwing its weight (and deep pockets) around for a particular non-incumbent candidate.
That goes double for a candidate like Crist in a race like Florida’s. Simple common sense, which I understand time inside the Beltway deprives all once sound-minded men of, would tell anybody that in a race featuring a person who represents the core principles of a party and a person who has recently and repeatedly flaunted those core principles by signing massive tax hikes, expanding the nanny state, and campaigning with the leader of the opposition party for the passage of a bill that violates everything his party stands for fiscally, the only smart thing for a national party organization to do would be to stay out of it and let the Republican voters in that state have their say.
The GOP isn’t a monolith by any means, and we don’t want it to be. However, one thing that is necessary when attempting to come back from a shellacking like the GOP took the last two election cycles is a set of core principles we don’t violate — period. At a time when the biggest domestic grievances people are going to have against those currently sitting in office are higher taxes and runaway spending, going out of your way to back a major tax-hiker and an endorser of that runaway Washington spending — without even making him defend those issues in a primary against a willing challenger with a sterling record on them — is, quite frankly, a loser of a decision.
Senator Cornyn’s decision to bring the full power of his Republican campaign machine to bear on behalf of a tax-hiking Obama supporter against a lifelong conservative in an open GOP primary is even more foolish than his decision to use donors’ money to go after Pennsylvania Democrat Arlen Specter with television ads less than a week after he enthusiastically endorsed the Senator in his Republican primary contest.
The question which must be answered when deciding on, and defending, moves like the Florida endorsement is this: What is the goal the NRSC is attempting to accomplish?
Senator Cornyn points to Crist’s name ID as proof of his electability. That’s fine; he may well be more electable than Marco Rubio in the 2010 Senate race. However, how much does the GOP gain if we pick up one more seat, but the person who fills it neither adheres to, nor particularly believes in, our core principles as a party?
If we lack that in those who are elected to represent both us and our brand, then what have we in fact gained by putting another warm body in the legislature whose only break with the other party is his choice of the letter after his name?
After knocking down his last strawman of the morning, Senator Cornyn wrapped up his case for endorsing Florida’s tax-hiking, Obama-supporting, Stimulus-promoting Governor for the Republican Senate nomination by saying,
“Winning back the majority requires not only that we hold the Democrats accountable, but also that we embrace the vast number of issues upon which Republicans agree. …
If we succeed in electing Republican Senators in 2010, issues like relocating Gitmo detainees to the United States, socializing healthcare, and eliminating workers’ secret ballots may never reach the floor of the United States Senate.”
With all due respect to Senator Cornyn, that final paragraph is an incomplete statement which should have begun with the phrase, “If we succeed in electing Republican Senators who represent the core principles of the GOP in 2010,” etc., etc., etc.
If our Senators and Representatives do not represent the values their constituents and their party as a whole stand for, and with which its brand is meant to be synonymous, then those Senators and Representatives do the people whom they purport to represent no good whatsoever.
The GOP isn’t a monolith, and every state’s Republican party has the right and the ability to select candidates and nominees that represent them. At very least, voters in a state like Florida should be allowed to do so without a Washington-bound, visionless organization like the NRSC breathing down their necks telling them what’s really good for them, and who would really “fit their state.”
The Republican party has been brought down far enough in recent years by its Washington-dwelling contingent. Though he has been sound on many issues in the past, Senator Cornyn’s words about the 2006 and 2008 elections bear out the fact that he is one of those Washington dwellers. “As a Party, we were stunned,” Cornyn wrote this morning, by the electoral shellackings the Democrats handed us in 2006 and 2008.
Senator Cornyn, the insulated creatures of the Beltway were the only Republicans who were really stunned by those outcomes. The rest of us very clearly saw that the party’s leaders had lost their way and failed to live up to the core principles of the GOP.
To this I only have one thing to add: If you think using your inside-the-Beltway organization to bigfoot a real conservative out of an open primary in favor of a tax-hiking, Obama-supporting, Porkulus-endorsing Democrat-lite is the way to, as you put it, “regain the ground we lost,” then the level of stunning you’re going to get in 2010 will make ’06 and ’08 look like cakewalks.
Nice try, Senator Cornyn, but no dice on this one.