In any highly fluid political situation, you will always find some observers determined to argue that it's not fluid at all--that underneath the surface, the status quo prevails, and anyone thinking otherwise is naive or poorly informed. Tuesday night, you just knew that Mark Kirk's U.S. Senate primary victory in Illinois would be interpreted in some circles as proving that the much-discussed rightward trend in the Republican Party, sped along by pressure from the Tea Party Movement, was actually a mirage.
EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. -- Tuesday's elections were a rebuke to the right wing and a warning to Democrats. They were also a timely reminder that President Obama needs to tune up his celebrated political organization and find a way to make Americans feel hopeful again. The night's biggest loser was the national conservative political machine--the wealthy tax-cutters at the Club for Growth and the Palin-Limbaugh-Beck complex.
Glenn Beck: And you win by 3 points? That's a victory? You've double‑teamed an accountant and you only won by three points. Boy, you guys are good... That's like the Yankees playing a high school team and winning by three runs. Oh, wow! Here's what the Republicans should learn. The tea party movement, if you think you're going to run people that are going to be, you know, ACORN wannabes and they're just part of the corruption, part of the system, if you're going to run those people, you can expect a tea party guy to come out, and the tea parties, they'll help you lose every single election.
Dave Weigel's dispatch from NY-23 last night describes the evolving message of the Hoffman camp: Hours before the polls closed, Hoffman backers were echoing the pundits’ spin–this race would be a referendum on President Obama, and a victory for Hoffman would put the brakes on health care reform by making Democrats worry about challenges to their re-elections in 2010. As a Hoffman victory became more and more remote, the rhetoric changed. The message became the message of two weeks ago. This election wasn’t about showing Republicans that conservatives could win.
Republicans are proclaiming victory after their candidates won statehouses in New Jersey and Virginia. And well they should. These were both states that went for Barack Obama in 2008. But how much do these elections really say about Obama and the prospects of the national Democratic Party? Some network commentators, citing suspiciously high approval ratings for Obama in New Jersey and Virginia, claim the elections say nothing at all about the president and his party.
Politico reports that residents in New York’s 23rd district are getting hammered by them. TPM’s Eric Kleefeld has the goods on the messages recorded by Giuliani and Pataki. “[N]ow that Dede Scozzafava has decided to suspend her campaign, voting for Doug is the only way we can stop Nancy Pelosi from gaining one more liberal vote for higher taxes, higher federal deficits, and government-run health care,” Giuliani says. “A vote for Owens is just another vote for Nancy Pelosi’s agenda,” Pataki adds.
Frank Rich really lit into the Republican Party yesterday: a riotous and bloody national G.O.P. civil war. a G.O.P.
When I read just now that Dede Scozzafava, the Republican nominee for that special election in New York's 23rd congressional district, was dropping out, I had the same reaction Nate Silver did: This does not necessarily seal if for the Conservative Party candidate, Doug Hoffman, who basically forced Scozzafava from the race. Here's Silver: Although a majority of Scozzafava's supporters are Republican (about 62 percent, by my reckoning), it is safe to assume that they are mostly rather moderate Republicans, because almost all the conservative Republicans had already gone over to Hoffman.
Look, anyone who imagines that New Gingrich is going to make a serious bid for the presidency in 2012 is nuts. (The smart money is that he'll muse endlessly about the possibility; let it be known that if the party wants him badly enough he'll allow himself to be drafted; and, when this does not happen, publicly take his name out of contention, explaining that he's abruptly found himself far too busy with some new organization with the word "Future" in the name.
WASHINGTON--Is there room in the Republican Party for genuine moderates? Truth to tell, the GOP can't decide. More precisely, it's deeply divided over whether it should allow any divisions in the party at all. That's why the brawl in a single congressional district in far upstate New York is drawing the eyes of the nation. Conservatives are determined to use the race to prove that there is no place in the party for heretics, dissidents or independents. President Obama set up the fight by nominating the district's former representative, John McHugh, as his Army secretary.