A house divided against itself cannot stand.

Once again, Barack Obama helps his opponents commit political suicide.

The Republican candidate in the race to replace Republican Congressman John McHugh, who resigned to become Secretary of the Army, dropped out of the race yesterday.   A well-financed carpetbagger running on the Conservative line and with solid wingnut support (Palin, Limbaugh, Forbes, Club For Growth, Gun Owners of America, Pawlenty) had made it impossible for Dede Scozzafava – basically conservative, but pro-choice and pro-gay-rights – to win.

Today, Scozzafava endorsed the Democrat in the race. It will be fun to watch the Republicans who were praising her for her “strength” and for putting “principle above politics” yesterday scrambling to recover today.

Obviously, I hope the endorsement helps pull the Democrat in the race over the finish line.  But even if the Conservative wins – now with the full support of the RNCC – the message to centrist Republicans is clear:  you’re not wanted.  Whether by skill or by luck, Obama’s bipartisan gesture in appointing a Republican to a senior post has helped his opponents self-destruct.

Rumors that the GOP is going to rename itself the Tea Party Party could not be confirmed as of press time.

Update: Link to endorsement story fixed by Andrew Sabl.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

15 thoughts on “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

  1. As always w/ these people, there's a trade-off: It's good that they do things that reduce their chances of winning, but bad that they do them in ways that increase the amount of hell they'll wreak if they do win. I'm old enough to remember entertaining hopes for a Reagan nomination, since he was obviously too bizarre to ever become President. Can you say "President Palin"? I knew that you could.

  2. Frustratingly, there have been claims that the departed Republican had endorsed Hoffman, for example in the headlines on NPR yesterday just before the longer story said she hadn't endorsed anyone yet.

  3. That erroneous assumption by an NPR headline writer in Hoffman's favor was ironic: Hoffman apparently hates NPR, such that he refused to turn up to a debate last week hosted by the local NPR station.

  4. One would think that the Scozzofava's endorsement demonstrates the opposite phenomenon — that of a liberal Republican trying to oust a conservative. How is Scozzofava "basically conservative" – she just endorsed the Democrat!

  5. Horseball, Scozzafava apparently has a voting record as a state legislator that places her right of the state GOP's center, so she's a conservative at least by local standards, if not by national ones

  6. And her endorsing the Democrat hardly proves she's a liberal: it's not a generic ballot. Maybe she thinks Hoffman, despite shared ideology, would be awful in congress – or maybe she simply hates him.

  7. Warren –

    I have lived my entire life in New York State — first Western New York, and now Manhattan, and I went to college in NY-23. If either party, or indeed any member, of the New York State legislature has anything so high minded as a discernable ideology, either liberal or conservative, I'd like to know about it. Ideological votes never come up in the legislature, as the government is completely controlled by the assembly speaker (always Democrat), the senate majority leader (until this year (and maybe once again), always Republican) and the governor. Backbench legislators have no role in the system and never cast any votes of significance except for the majority leader of their chamber. So, I have no idea how a legislator can accumulate an ideologically meaningful voting record, and so I dismiss this.

  8. One should not label all Republicans as "conservative." I don't know much about Scozzafava's or Hoffman's politics, but perhaps she is a conservative and he is a right-wing radical. The term "conservative" should be used for those who tend to favor conserving the status quo. People like Palin, Limbaugh, Scalia, and Thomas do not like the status quo; they want to turn the clock back decades.

  9. I confess I have no idea who will win on Tuesday, but if a conservative candidate replaces McHugh that means that the Republican party in Congress and the Congress itself have moved to the right. If that's a victory for Obama, he's going to love next November.

  10. "It will be fun to watch the Republicans who were praising her for her “strength” and for putting “principle above politics” yesterday scrambling to recover today."

    It will be kind of entertaining to watch the Republican establishment, which anointed her, explain why this "solid Republican" endorsed the Democrat.

    I've has an unusual amount of trouble finding out where she really stands on the issues, but I'm not sure why I should take assertions that she's a mainstream Republican seriously when they're mostly coming from Democrats.

  11. That's preferable to the Democratic party lite, that they were transforming into; A healthy democracy requires at least two parties which actually disagree about some things. It's especially unhealthy for democracy if the major parties decide to agree on things the public disagrees with.

    Hoffman may win, he may lose, but the voters will have a choice on issues Scozzafava and Owens agree about.

  12. Harrah! Voters will be at last be able to choose between a flat-earth geocentric candidate and a round-earth heliocentric one.

  13. Hey, democracy isn't the scientific method; It's not a mechanism for finding truth, it's a mechanism for making government responsive to public opinion. Bluntly, if 70% of the public thinks that the Sun orbited the Earth, and we persistently had elections where both major parties agreed that the Earth orbits the Sun, you've got TWO problems, not a problem and a solution.

    To be even blunter, if you think most political issues are as obvious cases of value free objective judgment as whether Ptolemy or Copernicus was right, you're nuttier than a fruitcake.

Comments are closed.