Sharron Angle. Rand Paul. Ken Buck. Maybe the GOP has bailed out the Dems in an otherwise terrible electoral year.
Not so fast, says Dave Weigel, warning progressives against overconfidence now that the GOP has nominated a series of loonies to run in key races. His argument at its most general level seems spot on to me: just because the other side has an extreme candidate running doesn’t mean that that candidate can’t win. Jim Bunning, James Inhofe, Jim deMint (is there something about the name “James”?), and Tom Coburn are all in the US Senate, after all.
But let’s look at Weigel’s argument a little more closely. It turns on the notion that in 2006, the Democrats also nominated candidates that were not the national party establishment’s favorites, and that no one thought could win. Let’s look at his prime example:
Nowhere was this more obvious than in New Hampshire. In 2006, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee put its weight behind state legislator Jim Craig, seen as the best candidate to take on then-Rep. Jeb Bradley. Craig was challenged in the primary by Carol Shea-Porter, a liberal activist who won some glancing fame for being escorted from a George W. Bush rally wearing a T-shirt that read “Turn Your Back On Bush.”
So let’s see if I’ve got this straight.
Sharron Angle wants to privatize Social Security. She said that Obama’s actions should tell American that they should resort to “Second Amendment remedies.” She also claims that the Affordable Care Act violates the First Commandment of the Ten Commandments (viz. “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt — you shall have no other gods before Me”) because it means worshipping the federal government. Her chief legacy as a Nevada state legislator was championing a mental health program based upon the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard.
Rand Paul opposes the public accommodations provisions of the Civil Rights Act. He says that there is a conspiracy to create a NAFTA superhighway across the United States. He says that President Obama’s protests against BP’s conduct in the Gulf of Mexico are “un-American.” He favors shutting down the IRS, the Fed, the American military presence overseas, the Department of Education and much of the rest of the federal government.
And Carol Shea-Porter is like them because…she wore an anti-Bush t-shirt to a Bush rally?
This is sort of Broderism gone wild. If the Republicans say something insane, you have to criticize the Democrats for equivalent insanity even if there is nothing of the sort. If the Republicans say 2+2=5, and the Dems insist that 2+2=4, the “unbiased” reporter has to somehow insinuate that 2+2=four and half.
Weigel is a hell of a reporter: his writing is must-read when if you want to know about the conservative movement, and I check his stories every day. But I think he printed “publish” before thinking through this a little bit.
As I said, his general point is clearly correct: the mere fact of Republican insanity will not protect the United States from having them govern us. But let’s not get into even crazier moral equivalences.