Sen. Bennett teaches us about “polite-company conservatives”

posted at 8:15 pm on May 15, 2010 by Karl

Frankly, I did not care much one way or the other about Sen. Robert Bennett’s loss at last weekend’s Utah GOP convention. However, the story provided valuable insight into the world of “polite-company conservatives” (PCCs). For example, take the reaction of NYT columnist David Brooks:

This is a damn outrage, to be honest. This is a guy who was a good Senator and he was a good Senator and a good conservative, but a good conservative who was trying to get things done. The Wyden-Bennett bill, which he co-sponsored — if you took the health care economists in the country, they would probably be for that bill, ideally. It was a substantive, serious bill, a bipartisan bill, with strong conservative and some liberal support. So he did something sort of brave by working with Democrats which more Senators should do and now they’ve been sent a message to him don’t do that.

Ross Douthat (a/k/a David Brooks: TNG) had already written:

Bob Bennett, the three-term Republican senator from Utah, may lose his primary because of his willingness to co-sponsor a centrist (in a good way!) health care reform bill with the Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden. If Bennett goes down to defeat, it will be fair to say that the Tea Partiers have hurt their party, and cost the country a good senator.

Rick Moran similalry championed the Wyden-Bennett bill as “a flawed, but earnest effort at comprehensive reform”:

Called “The Healthy Americans Act,” the bill incorporated some standard liberal thinking like an individual mandate, but was also innovative in the way costs would be shared and how the program would be administered at the state level. It would also have done away with Medicaid – a plus in any conservative’s book. In short, it was a good old fashioned senate compromise on a thorny issue that, in another less mindlessly partisan time, would have served as a starting point for the two parties to work out their differences.

Unsurprisingly, David Frum had preemptively blamed the loss on greedy competition for donations between the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks (For a PCC, Frum has a flair for imputing bad faith to those with whom he disagrees). But Frum also touted Wyden-Bennett as “the most realistic and workable proposal put forth by anyone to solve the health care problem on free-market principles.”

The notable thing about the complaints of the PCCs is how detached they are from political reality.

Brooks claims Bennett’s bill had strong conservative support. Lefty blogger Ezra Klein called it “fake support”, and was correct. Bennett’s bill went from having nine GOP co-sponsors in 2007 to three in 2009. One of those was the Maverick-lite Lindsey Graham. Another was Mike Crapo of Idaho, who probably signed on to have some fallback position as a member of the Senate Finance Committee. The remaining GOP co-sponsor was Lamar(!) Alexander, the 7th most liberal Senate Republican. Former co-sponsor Judd Gregg signed on to an op-ed supporting the bill; he’s the 8th most liberal Senate Republican.

Outside the Senate, Heritage waved the caution flag on Wyden-Bennett for its “sweeping and heavy-handed federal control over the insurance markets,” its tax inequities and other unpleasant policy surprises. At Cato, Michael F. Cannon called the bill a “wholesale takeover of America’s healthcare sector.” National Review — not exactly the radical fringe of conservatism — slammed the bill both before and after the Bennett loss. Douthat may want to keep arguing the merits of Bennett’s bill, but no one can make the case that it had strong conservative support.

But what about the bipartisanship? The fallback position of the PCCs is that whatever the flaws of Wyden-Bennett, there is an intrinsic value to “serious” bipartisanship (as opposed to opportunistic trimming). Nolstalgia for the good ol’ days, where Giants of the Senate hammered out a consensus on the Important Issues of Our Time is usually invoked (no matter the results).

The flaw is in this position is the Democrats’ almost total lack of interest in bipartisanship, particularly when it came to healthcare reform. Tunku Varadarajan does an adequate rebuttal of the PCC position in general — the partisan gap was too large, the Dems were focused on holding their own party, and so on. But we can be more specific.

Pres. Obama largely ignored the House GOP leadership on healthcare reform, and the PCCs cannot point to House Democrats being open to GOP proposals. Wyden-Bennett backers Lamar Alexander and Judd Gregg complained about the partisan nature of the process in the Senate. Republicans took part in the the vaunted negotiations among the “Gang of Six,” but the only concession to the GOP occurred when the Senate Finance Committee reported a bill without the so-called “public option.” Days later, Sen. Maj. Ldr. Harry Reid inserted the “public option” into the bill that went to the Senate floor, alienating liberal Republicans like Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. We would be stuck with a “public option” today, but for the opposition of Independent-Democrat Joe Lieberman (and maybe Democrat Ben Nelson). Pres. Obama pretended that the GOP had no ideas until Scott Brown replaced the late Ted Kennedy in the Senate. Then, Obama held a Potemkin bipartisan summit as a prelude to the claim that the Democrats’ partisan bill contained a number of GOP ideas (which supposedly didn’t exist mere weeks earlier).

[In contrast, the Bush43 administration's major initiatives were often bipartisan. Yet PCCs like Frum, Douthat and Bruce Bartlett all wrote books critical (often harshly so) of the Bush domestic policy shop. A cynic might conclude that PCCs only care about bipartisanship when Democrats are in power. Or that the only constant for PCCs is criticism of Republicans. But I would merely note that actual bipartsanship tends to look different than the bipartisanship PCCs imagine. Anyway, back to healthcare reform...]

Speaker Pelosi ultimately had to twist arms to the breaking point to get enough of her colleagues to back the Senate healthcare bill (with minor changes in reconciliation), because they had no other way to pass any bill. Can the PCCs honestly argue the House would have voted on anything like Wyden-Bennett? Contra the PCCs, Bennett’s effort was not brave or serious. It was a sideshow, irrelevant to the political realities that produced ObamaCare. And that largely moots the policy debate. Arguing the relative degrees of awfulness of Bennett’s bill vs. ObamaCare is rather beside the point when the Democratic leadership spent 2009 pretending Bennett’s bill did not exist.

Finally, there is the more generic question, posed this way by Moran: “How can you claim that a senator who has a lifetime score of 85 from the American Conservative Union to be ‘not conservative enough’ for any state?” To answer that question, I refer to flaming wingnut lefty blogger Nate Silver:

[I]t would arguably be quite rational for Utah Republicans to dispose of Bennett. He’s no liberal, but he ranks as only about the 27th most conservative Republican senator in a state with just about the most conservative electorate. A more conservative Republican, moreover, would be very unlikely to lose the general election — not in Utah, and not in this political environment. Our forecasting model gives a generic Utah Democrat only about a 2 percent chance against a generic Utah Republican, which probably amounts to the contingency of a huge scandal or gaffe. The delegates to the Republican convention — a hand-picked and self-selected group of conservative activists — are surely smart enough to know this, or at least to recognize that Bennett does occasionally depart from the party line.

Although some might have preferred an open primary to the convention process in Utah, by the end of 2009, two of every three Utahns wanted to see Bennett ousted:

Bennett, 75, who has served 17 years in the Senate, faces no personal scandal, but has been attacked mostly by conservatives who say he is not conservative enough. However, the poll shows that similar percentages of conservatives, moderates and liberals all would like to see Bennett dumped next year, so opposition is not just from the far-right GOP wing. (Emphasis added.)

This is apparently what led Frum to conclude that Bennett was “broadly popular within the state.” Or maybe not. One wonders why the broad, bipartisan opposition to Bennett did not impress the PCCs, who purport to value bipartisan consensus. Or maybe not.

In sum, the PCCs — who undoubtedly see themselves as the voices of reason — got everything wrong. Bennett’s bill did not have strong conservative support. The bill was not brave or important. Bipartisanship was rejected from the outset by the Democrats. Bennett was not a popular figure sunk by the right-wing fringe. Bennett’s loss helps expose the gap between the PCC’s pose as serious thinkers and the political realities of the day. That is a pretty good legacy for Sen. Bennett, though I doubt he would see it that way.

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
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“Bennett’s loss helps expose the gap between the PCC’s pose as serious thinkers and the political realities of the day.”

I appreciate your efforts, and I know it is a slow news day, and I didn’t want to be the first to post…

… but you could have started out with that, and ended your post in one paragraph.

Again, thank you for your effort…

Seven Percent Solution on May 15, 2010 at 8:29 PM

7%…ha…kept wondering myself where it was going…and why….

winston on May 15, 2010 at 8:38 PM

David Brooks, Ross Douthat (a/k/a David Brooks: TNG), Rick Moran and David Frum were all educated beyond their intelligence.

MB4 on May 15, 2010 at 8:44 PM

Hmmm,gotta disagree, 7% & Winston. It was valuable from start to finish, because he pretty much slices & dices Frum, Douthat, Brooks & Moran to smithereens by the time it’s all over. Frum wrote that Bennett had broad support in Utah, & Karl demolished that bogus claim in the 2nd to last graph, for example – he needed every sentence to persuasively finish those poseurs off.

leilani on May 15, 2010 at 8:46 PM

I appreciate your efforts, and I know it is a slow news day, and I didn’t want to be the first to post…

Seven Percent Solution on May 15, 2010 at 8:29 PM

I am embarrassed enough to be the third one to post. I think I will go outside and watch the grass grow for a while.

MB4 on May 15, 2010 at 8:47 PM

scott brown is as good a senator as we’ll ever get from mass.

and bennett NOT good enough for utah.

how do we know this?

we can count.

tea partiers will vote for the best candidate who can win his election.

utah voters decided they can do better.

more power to them.

reliapundit on May 15, 2010 at 8:49 PM

Seven Percent Solution,

Don’t worry — you weren’t the first person unhappy with the length.

Karl on May 15, 2010 at 8:51 PM

NYT columnist David Brooks:

This is a damn outrage, to be honest.

David Brooks knows how to spell outrage, but beyond that I think he’s at somewhat of a loss.
He, like Bennett just plays a conservative on TV.
And didn’t the 75 yr old Bennett pledge a 2 term limit while releasing himself from that in his last election?
His tearful, nose running post primary interview was inspiring though.

ontherocks on May 15, 2010 at 8:52 PM

Bennett represented the, “we need to get something done” and “go along, get along bipartisanship” crowd. Republicans have woken up to the fact that it has gotten us to where we are now. With the soon to become one term nightmare and his cronies in the White House, Bennett and his old boy club need to be sent down the road kicking stones. Replaced by “Statesmen” who will stand against liberal/statism.

sheriff246 on May 15, 2010 at 8:52 PM

Am I the only one that feels less inclined to even trouble to explain the obviously flawed thinking of those quoted in the post…it makes a valid point …it just seems that I don’t get as wadded up over their idiocy as I used to…maybe I’m losing it…or just getting tired of it all…

winston on May 15, 2010 at 8:54 PM

leilani on May 15, 2010 at 8:46 PM

Mmmmmmmmmm…

… OK. What ever you say.

Maybe I should have commented on a post linking to people that apart from being political hacks, disguised as ‘journalists’, the point could have been made a bit briefer.

… But again, maybe it’s just me.

Seven Percent Solution on May 15, 2010 at 8:55 PM

The GOP is losing momentum.

Where is Steele and where are ads about specifics.

CBO report
BP, O’s cash payout, no permits issued by O, Big Sis (no clue we even had oil cleaners)
The GM commercial lie, all paid off by our own money
Unable to say terrorism, Holder lying through his teeth…He had been briefed of Taliban connection before hearing.

These are just a few of the last couple of weeks….

Where are the ads…Videos can be done cheaply, run on You Tube at least.
Something……

nondhimmie on May 15, 2010 at 9:03 PM

Educated dummies. You can’t teach common sense.

SouthernGent on May 15, 2010 at 9:06 PM

“Bennett’s loss helps expose the gap between the PCC’s pose as serious thinkers and the political realities of the day.”

I appreciate your efforts, and I know it is a slow news day, and I didn’t want to be the first to post…

… but you could have started out with that, and ended your post in one paragraph.

Again, thank you for your effort…

Seven Percent Solution on May 15, 2010 at 8:29 PM

hehe

MeatHeadinCA on May 15, 2010 at 9:08 PM

Where are the ads…Videos can be done cheaply, run on You Tube at least.
Something……

nondhimmie on May 15, 2010 at 9:03 PM

It’s much easier to let say, for example, Sarah Palin do all the hard lifting and then critique …

MeatHeadinCA on May 15, 2010 at 9:10 PM

But didn’t everyone see the new AP poll. Americans want Dems again. \s

andy85719 on May 15, 2010 at 9:11 PM

Well done Karl.

Maxpower on May 15, 2010 at 9:16 PM

Bennett got term-limited. It happens. He should relax, and find a new hobby.

RBMN on May 15, 2010 at 9:22 PM

So Bennett has a solid 85% rating, eh? That’s a good ole B+. I liked to have As on my transcripts.

Utahans should be ashamed of electing him the last cycle. Two terms does not mean three terms. Why is being lied to considered OK any more by voters?

Keep tolerating that crap and you will keep getting the government you deserve.

GnuBreed on May 15, 2010 at 9:22 PM

Bennett got term-limited. It happens. He should relax, and find a new hobby.

RBMN on May 15, 2010 at 9:22 PM

Campaigning for Snarlin Specter and rubbing the sun screen on Crisp?

MeatHeadinCA on May 15, 2010 at 9:26 PM

So Bennett has a solid 85% rating, eh? That’s a good ole B+. I liked to have As on my transcripts.

GnuBreed on May 15, 2010 at 9:22 PM

That’s only a B+ with an extremely generous grade giver… More like solid B range.

MeatHeadinCA on May 15, 2010 at 9:27 PM

Maybe I should have commented on a post linking to people that apart from being political hacks, disguised as ‘journalists’, the point could have been made a bit briefer.

… But again, maybe it’s just me.

Seven Percent Solution on May 15, 2010 at 8:55 PM

Briefer? Sure, it could have been but some of us will always enjoy a long, slow and protracted vivisection of Frum & Brooks. Lord knows they’ve earned it.

trapeze on May 15, 2010 at 9:29 PM

David Brooks outraged. “yawn”

docdave on May 15, 2010 at 9:43 PM

Imagine the explosion if McCain loses the primary. His dumb daughter is going to switch parties by the next morning and by that evening wold have been bashing Conservatives on every show from The View to Price is Right.

Marcus on May 15, 2010 at 9:44 PM

Maybe someone can tell me how we can get a set of plates, cups and saucers from inside the Titanics remains without breaking a single one, but we can’t plug a damn hole in the sea floor.

johnnyU on May 15, 2010 at 9:46 PM

Charlie Crisp has an ‘A’ rating from the NRA, too. Still ain’t agonna vote for him

Lanceman on May 15, 2010 at 9:48 PM

Karl has always struck me as quite polite. Never met him, but I bet he’d do fine at a beer summit, for instance.

I don’t see, however, where the failure of Wyden-Bennett to get a lot of votes during the whole Obamacare run-up is completely dispositive of Brooks’ claim for “strong conservative support.” Those three words could be interpreted in a lot of ways – “able to get the votes of the majority of the Senate Caucus” being only one of them. On the national level, Heritage, Cato, and National Review – hate to break it to y’all – qualify as “very conservative.” “8th most liberal R Senator” = more conservative than ca. 70% of Senators. If 85% ACU conservative supports bill strongly, that’s another definition of “strong conservative support.”

None of which is to say Utah R were wrong to pick someone else.

CK MacLeod on May 15, 2010 at 9:59 PM

Hogwash. There is not one senator or congressman that I will cry over seeing them lose their job. A trained chimp could do what they do.

Kevroy on May 15, 2010 at 10:04 PM

I don’t give a damn what these quasi conservatives like Brooks or Frum have to say about anything!

MCGIRV on May 15, 2010 at 10:11 PM

I don’t see, however, where the failure of Wyden-Bennett to get a lot of votes during the whole Obamacare run-up is completely dispositive of Brooks’ claim for “strong conservative support.” Those three words could be interpreted in a lot of ways – “able to get the votes of the majority of the Senate Caucus” being only one of them.

Well, going from nine GOP co-sponsors to three would not be one of them. Having no companion bill inthe House would not be one of them.

On the national level, Heritage, Cato, and National Review – hate to break it to y’all – qualify as “very conservative.”

Based on what? This is why I write things with plenty of hyperlinks.

If 85% ACU conservative supports bill strongly, that’s another definition of “strong conservative support.”

Um, not a very convincing one. That a conservative supports something does not automatically render it conservative. For that matter, we could look at Bennett’s recent ACU ratings and note, for example, how much more conservative he is in election years than off-years. But then the piece would’ve been even longer.

Karl on May 15, 2010 at 10:34 PM

Politely allow your ass to be kicked, thank you.

Naaaaaaah.

profitsbeard on May 15, 2010 at 10:35 PM

Um, not a very convincing one. That a conservative supports something does not automatically render it conservative. For that matter, we could look at Bennett’s recent ACU ratings and note, for example, how much more conservative he is in election years than off-years. But then the piece would’ve been even longer.

Karl on May 15, 2010 at 10:34 PM

Thankyou

Why don’t you do a piece on ACU ratings? You pretty much have it in that one paragraph.

MeatHeadinCA on May 15, 2010 at 10:58 PM

MeatHeadinCA,

If I go beyond that paragraph, it might be too long. ;-)

Karl on May 15, 2010 at 11:03 PM

Karl on May 15, 2010 at 11:03 PM

Don’t know why you’re so worried about going long. You write great stuff, always very well-researched and thought out.

Look – I think you make a good point about the PCCs sometimes being all hat, no cattle, talking as though their beautiful center-right concepts ought to represent a broader coalition than they do or can.

I think we know that NR, Heritage, and CATO are generally pretty far to the right of dead center because, if they weren’t, they’d hold urgent meetings and schedule soul-searching retreats trying to figure out where they went wrong. Now it’s possible, certainly, that on certain high profile issues, the country has moved even profoundly in their general direction, at least for the time being.

I’m not a big fan of Brooks. It’s possible that he’s out of touch with “conservative opinion.” And “damn outrage” is silly – I didn’t watch the video so I have no idea how outraged he really was. But he does have as much of a right to his definition of conservative as you or I do. “Strong conservative support” is not the same as support of “the strongly conservative.” I wouldn’t be surprised, given his style, if he backed off on “strong conservative support” if you pressed him. It would actually be kind of interesting to hear how a guy like Brooks does define “strong conservative support.” He may be trying to view things beyond the populist moment that we’re going through right now.

Also, Utah may be a crimson red state, but don’t forget who its governor was up until recently. Bennett lost the hard right, yet was too hard right for the liberals, and moderates are tired of incumbents generally: so there’s your 2 out of 3 Utahns. I wonder how Huntsman would do if running statewide this year.

CK MacLeod on May 15, 2010 at 11:26 PM

Guys, did I miss anything?

manwithblackhat on May 15, 2010 at 11:27 PM

CK,

If Brooks defined “strong conservative support” as “something Nancy Pelosi could support,” I think you would join me in laughter. His right to have a definition isn’t the issue; the quality of his definition is the issue. And in this instance, I don’t think there’s any case to be made for Wyden-Bennett having “strong conservative support,” given a reasonable definition.

Indeed, the problem with the PCC position on Wyden-Bennett is that they want to claim it as both conservative and bipartisan. And in a time where politicians are polarized and the electorate is increasingly well-sorted, the odds of a a bipartisan bill having strong conservative support are slim to none (unless you want to look at Bush domestic policy, which PCCs did not like, either). I would give the PPCs the claim that Bennett was attempting to find a centrist approach (even if I thought it a failure), but that would not make it any less irrelevant than it was. Indeed, when Moran writes that “in another less mindlessly partisan time, would have served as a starting point for the two parties to work out their differences,” he might be right — as far as it goes, which is not far. The problem is that he — and other PCCs — are complaining about mindless partisanship solely in the context of criticizing the Right, when the Left is in power with supermajorities, and thus dictates how bipartisan the process is. That’s a fairly serious disconnect for a political pundit to have.

Karl on May 16, 2010 at 12:02 AM

So Bennett has a solid 85% rating, eh? That’s a good ole B+. I liked to have As on my transcripts.

Utahans should be ashamed of electing him the last cycle. Two terms does not mean three terms. Why is being lied to considered OK any more by voters?

Keep tolerating that crap and you will keep getting the government you deserve.

GnuBreed on May 15, 2010 at 9:22 PM

This is part of why I helped vote him out.

But guess what his at least one of his potential successors also promised…

scotash on May 16, 2010 at 12:23 AM

Also, Utah may be a crimson red state, but don’t forget who its governor was up until recently. Bennett lost the hard right, yet was too hard right for the liberals, and moderates are tired of incumbents generally: so there’s your 2 out of 3 Utahns. I wonder how Huntsman would do if running statewide this year.

Fortunately we don’t have to worry about Jon H. All Utahns should thank the prez for ridding our state of that man. We should also thank our former governor for selecting Governor Herbert as his running mate and eventual successor.

SaintGeorgeGentile on May 16, 2010 at 12:57 AM

Karl on May 16, 2010 at 12:02 AM

I’m guessing Brooks sees McCain, Graham, Alexander, and Gregg all as real authentic conservatives. He may even consider Snowe and Collins to be “conservatives.” He may also through personal knowledge believe that lots of/several/some more sens or other important-enough-for-Brooks-to-care-about Rs who didn’t come out for Wyden-Bennett were sympathetic to it. Who knows? That’s why I said it would be interesting to hear how he defines his terms.

Maybe I’m nit-picking at you on possible nit-picking, and I agree with you that the PCCs seem sometimes to take a “no friends to the right” approach, but maybe the reason they end up seizing on stuff like Wyden-Bennett, aside from the fact that they may personally know some wonks who think it’s great, is that they don’t see the Rs with a real, credible alternative on health care or on much else. I know that Douthat’s said as much on HCR, directly, once recently in a statement that mentioned Ed Morrissey otherwise approvingly, but faulted him for credulousness on that score.

CK MacLeod on May 16, 2010 at 1:15 AM

Slave owners take care of their slaves. Free men and women take care of themselves. what more is there to say about health care?

{^_^}

herself on May 16, 2010 at 1:43 AM

As a Utahn, my problem with Bennett is that he was the 4th-largest recipient of campaign donations from Fred&Fan–after Obama, Kerry, and Dodd–because of his being on the Senate housing committee.

Which means either that he:

1) knew about the shenanigans with the housing market but did nothing because he saw nothing wrong with it (either from venality or stupidity)

2) did not know about the shenanigans but should have.

I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of the animosity against Bennett is proxy animosity against the Ted-Kennedy-Loving Orrin Hatch, who is a fool of the first order of magnitude.

Every time a new bill came up for a vote in the Senate, I had NO idea how either Bennett or Hatch would vote on it. Neither of them has enough fire in the belly to deal with today’s Democrat party; neither understands that the time for congenial cooperation is over.

Good riddance to both milquetoasts, say I.

dicentra63 on May 16, 2010 at 1:44 AM

I’d be worried about the alternative too. Check out Mike Lee’s record as an attorney.

Most notably, Lee has argued that Utah and the Northwest Compact lack the authority to stop Energy- Solutions from disposing of about 1,600 tons of radioactive waste from Italy at its Utah landfill. Lee won in District court and the case has been appealed to the 10th Circuit.

Lee said Utah had its chance to regulate waste when it issued a license to EnergySolutions in the late 1980s, but it can’t ban foreign waste; those decisions are made by Congress and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Recently, he testified before the Utah Legislature that the state could make a constitutional argument that it should be able to seize federal land using its eminent domain authority. While he conceded it might be a long shot, the Legislature passed the bill.

.
http://www.elpasotimes.com/news/ci_15025690?source=rss

njpat on May 16, 2010 at 2:04 AM

CK MacLeod on May 16, 2010 at 1:15 AM

I’m guessing Brooks sees McCain, Graham, Alexander, and Gregg all as real authentic conservatives. He may even consider Snowe and Collins to be “conservatives.”

I suspect you’re right, though I think that proves my point. Most all of them demonstrate the degree to which you can vote okay on a lot of lesser topics, but abandon conservatism on the most important ones. Indeed, most of them market themselves as Maverick-y when it suits them, and Gregg considered joining the Obama cabinet. I don’t necessarily fault them for doing so, but I would fault PCCs for pretending that crowd is something other than what it is.

maybe the reason they end up seizing on stuff like Wyden-Bennett, aside from the fact that they may personally know some wonks who think it’s great, is that they don’t see the Rs with a real, credible alternative on health care or on much else. I know that Douthat’s said as much on HCR, directly, once recently in a statement that mentioned Ed Morrissey otherwise approvingly, but faulted him for credulousness on that score.

They may know some wonks who think Wyden-Bennett is great. My explicit point was that PCCs willfully blind themselves to the fact that whether W-B was great was politically irrelevant, due to the partisanship of the Democrat supermajorities, rather than the partisanship of the GOP. The Democrats ignored the ideas and proposals associated with the GOP, including W-B. The subtext is that PCCs present themselves as providing incisive insider analysis, but ignored the hardball reality of how a healthcare bill became a law. And maybe my failure in this piece was not making that subtext more explicit. Most people go after the PCCs for their generally centrist positions, or impugn their motives as suck-ups to the MSM. I am saying that when you take a hard look, their analyses just aren’t all that competent.

Karl on May 16, 2010 at 2:30 AM

Nice article, Karl. Personally speaking, I’m all for exposing Wyden – Bennett for what is was…to the left of Obamacare.

A little off topic…Wyden is in a tad bit of trouble here in Oregon, so much so that he’s threatening anyone who would donate to the Republicans. Karl Rove has been saying for months that if the OR Republicans fielded a good candidate, Wyden might just lose this election.

Well…Huffman appears to be just that…a good candidate. He teaches Constitutional Law at Lewis and Clark. The funny thing is that he looks exactly as you would think a lib professor to look. ;o) I met him at an early fundraiser, and I was very impressed with him.

kakypat on May 16, 2010 at 3:18 AM

Karl on May 16, 2010 at 2:30 AM

Hey, now – you didn’t fail at anything on the piece as far as I’m concerned. I’d flatter you more, but I’m not sure that flattery from me would stand greatly to your credit in these parts these days. ;)

CK MacLeod on May 16, 2010 at 3:57 AM

This is part of why I helped vote him out.

Amen. Orrin is next.

But guess what his at least one of his potential successors also promised…

scotash on May 16, 2010 at 12:23 AM

Are you talking Chavits and his recent earmark comment? I’m still ticked at that one. That will be tough vote for me if he’s chosen.

karl9000 on May 16, 2010 at 7:58 AM

The republican elites are getting the vapors because they think some players broke the rules in a midnight shuffleboard game being played on the deck of the Titanic.

The first class passengers were the last ones to know that an emergency was unfolding — something the little people below realized in a most immediate way.

jeff_from_mpls on May 16, 2010 at 8:47 AM

but a good conservative who was trying to get things done

Hey, Davey, have you considered that we DON’T want to get things done?

Maybe they should be called “lace panty conservatives”.

N. O'Brain on May 16, 2010 at 9:09 AM

But what about the bipartisanship?

Bipartisanship: “A state of affairs in which Republicans betray their supporters in order to mollify their political enemies and the editorial boards of The Washington Post and New York Times. Cf., capitulation, professional suicide.”
-Tony Snow

N. O'Brain on May 16, 2010 at 9:12 AM

Briefer? Sure, it could have been but some of us will always enjoy a long, slow and protracted vivisection of Frum & Brooks. Lord knows they’ve earned it.

trapeze on May 15, 2010 at 9:29 PM

+1

I liked seeing their quotes and buidling support for the closing.

aikidoka on May 16, 2010 at 9:22 AM

Utah’s Republican Party conventions have not been good to elected officials who have consistently fought to protect the interests of illegal aliens.

One senior United States Senator and two senior state legislators were denied the opportunity to run for the seats they currently hold. In addition, two legislators with spotty records on immigration related issues face primary election contests and four other legislators that the advocates for illegal aliens could count on for support are not running.

The ouster of three term U.S. Senator Robert Bennett by roughly 3,500 state delegates at Utah’s Republican state convention grabbed the major headlines. Immigration played a role in his defeat as he had supported comprehensive immigration reform that included amnesty from identity theft and a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens.

In addition, Bennett slipped an amendment into a 2005 Agriculture appropriations bill that exempts religious organizations from immigration law and allows them to harbor, transport and use the volunteer services of illegal aliens.

http://www.examiner.com/x-32429-Salt-Lake-City-Immigration-Examiner~y2010m5d9-Senator-Bennett-and-other-proillegal-alien-office-holders-ousted

It’s a great article start to finish.

And, wow, I didn’t even know this:

As a Utahn, my problem with Bennett is that he was the 4th-largest recipient of campaign donations from Fred&Fan–after Obama, Kerry, and Dodd–because of his being on the Senate housing committee.

But we should be upset that this guy lost? LOL

funky chicken on May 16, 2010 at 9:24 AM

My commentary on the PCC’s is that, in reality they can pose a greater danger than the moonbats like Van Jones, that its the very supposed respectability that lets the their most pernicous ideas fly under the radar.

Hmmm, I guesss the best way to explain what I mean, is this snippet from an article I wrote refuting Ed’s position on Cass Sunstein on 9/10/09.

“….This morning over on Hot Air, one of my regular sites I visit, Ed Morrissey was commenting on the Van Jones resignation, and the possibility of Cass Sunstein becoming the next target of conservative’s ire, he seems to imply that Sunstein might not be the most logical target. That due to the fact the Sunstein is well “qualified” and will probably make for an efficient administrator, that it might be a wasted effort and that he is not one of the most radical appointments. After all, Obama will just replace him with someone else to run the White House Office of Information and Regulatory affairs, who could possibly be in the militant mold of Jones.

I feel just opposite is true, it is because Sunstein would make for an efficient and effective administer in accomplishing abhorrent policy & regulatory writing that he is all the more dangerous. To employ someone with a superior skill-set in enabling our own demise is, by no stretch of the imagination, a reason for less concern.

Loud mouthed, ego-maniacal, militant radicals like Jones, while possibly more malignant and unsavory, are none the less incapable of flying under the radar for long. Just like scorpion in the old fable with the frog crossing the river, they cannot restrain their odious behavior and will reveal their true nature soon enough. Other Czars that are cut from the same cloth as Van Jones are so outlandish, and have been screaming from outside “the system” for so long, that they cannot but help come the public’s attention and be summarily tossed out to the street. It is my guess that most probably someone like say, the new Diversity Officer of the FCC Mark Lloyd, will be next to meet such a fate.

On the other hand, people like Valerie Jarrett, Carol Browner and Cass Sunstein have over time acquired the cloak of “polish” and “respectability” to do real damage. Figures such as these have flitted around the periphery of power enough to know how to conduct themselves in polite company.
Through fraternization and inter-mingling with respectable society they have achieved a form of protection by way of it, as polite society is always loathe to admit that it has allowed such types within their ranks. If someone within your clique finds themselves in a shit storm, by way of proximity it is thus hard to remain unsullied yourself. In another words, it is a two-way street. The very veneer of respectability gleaned by associating with the “right class” of people makes said “class” that much more apprehensive to acknowledge the unsavory aspects of others that have gained admittance. It reflects poorly upon themselves through guilt of association.”

Archimedes on May 16, 2010 at 10:16 AM

PCC = GOP wussie wing

katiejane on May 16, 2010 at 10:26 AM

<3 Karl. Good work.

BJ* on May 16, 2010 at 10:38 AM

I cannot understand what is ‘conservative’ about wanting to hand more power to the government for things it is not given to govern.

From Campaign Finance Reform to healthcare to retirement to Amtrack to agriculture…. why is the federal government the place to do these things and how can it be ‘conservative’ to argue that government should do them? Not ‘manage the costs’ which is one strain of PCCism, but actually do these things? Congress was expected to be a place of vital idea bashing on a continuous basis so that infringement of the liberty of the citizenry would always have opposition… not those riding under a guise of ‘conservative’ ready to ‘manage’ those liberties for the individual via the unelected, unaccountable and authoritarian bureaucracy. We did not run out the aristocrats to replace them lock, stock and two smoking barrels with the bureaucrat.

Tell me what the legislation actually does that a congresscritter supports and I can tell you, very accurately, where they sit in this discourse between the liberty of the citizens and the States with regards to the federal government.

The promises made in the 1980 campaign season were not carried out… now the people are trying to find people who will actually cut and starve the federal beast before it consumes us. And seeing ‘conservatives’ supporting more government ‘help’ at the expense of the liberty, freedom and money of the people is not very ‘conservative’ at all… but Progressive with a different slant to it. The whining I hear from the establishment ‘convservatives’ is poor whine made from sour grapes on vines that bear bitter fruit…which comes from a very evil plant as The Shadow knows which is planted in the hearts of men. It is good that the roots of that plant are being seen. Unfortunate that there are defenders of them in this republic.

ajacksonian on May 16, 2010 at 11:13 AM

Message to David Brooks:

Right now I don’t want my elected representatives DOing anything! I want them UNDOing some of the stuff that was DOne over the last 20 years to tie the hands of American industry and force it offshore!

Message to all elected representatives:

Get the eff out of the way of America and let US solve the problem!!

TugboatPhil on May 16, 2010 at 11:15 AM

I cannot understand what is ‘conservative’ about wanting to hand more power to the government for things it is not given to govern.

ajacksonian on May 16, 2010 at 11:13 AM

On the money!

Archimedes on May 16, 2010 at 11:50 AM