The Scozzafava Scandals
posted at 8:22 am on November 2, 2009 by Dafydd ab Hugh
Ordinarily, I dote on every word writ by Rich Galen, cybercolumnist extraordinaire, proprietor of Mullings, my favorite non-blog blog (neg-blog?) Alas, I think he has really gone off the Newtonian end on the NY-23 race.
In today’s Mullings, Rich writes the following:
The Conservatives nominated a guy named Doug Hoffman who does not live in the District, but is true to Conservative principals. [Er… sic, I think! Unless he means Ben Stein: “Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?”]
Nevertheless, the National Republican Congressional Committee and other big-time Republicans supported her on the grounds that the locals know their District and having someone like Howard [sic] in the race splitting the GOP vote might well give the seat to the Democrat Owens.
I agreed. Someone e-mailed me the other day saying that people like me who live in Washington don’t understand what is going on out in the “hustings.” I responded that upstate New York is as “hustings” as it gets and they picked Scozzafava.
Well, no, Rich. “They” didn’t pick Scozzafava. As I documented in a previous post here, she was selected in a back-room deal by eleven county GOP committee apparatchiks. The very fact that she recently plummeted in the polls, to the point where she fell off the radar in this race — which is the only reason she dropped out, she was afraid of making an utter fool of herself if she stuck around — proves that “they,” the actual residents of that district, did not pick Scozzafava. Her support was probably below that of “don’t know/no opinion” when she stalked off in a huff.
But here is the kicker to Galen’s piece:
I have spent my adult life helping to elect Republicans all across the GOP spectrum. The only vote I care about is the first one: will it be for the Republican candidate for Speaker (in the House) or Majority Leader (in the Senate)? After that first vote they’re someone else’s problem.
If that’s Galen’s lone criterion, he made a very bad decision to endorse Scozzafava. Given her subsequent betrayal of the very GOP that “nominated” (selected) her, endorsing the Democrat in the race and urging all of her supporters (both of them) to vote for Democrat Bill Owens instead of Conservative Republican Doug Hoffman, what makes Galen so sure Scozzafava would have voted for John Boehner (R-OH, 92%) — rather than Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%) — in that all-important first vote?
I think it would have been a 50-50 bet at best. Clearly, Scozzafava’s liberalism trumped her party affiliation by so much that she couldn’t even stand neutral; she practically fell over her own feet rushing to endorse the liberal Democrat, Bill Owens.
Given that Hoffman is no more conservative than Boehner; given that Scozzafava’s liberalism is as near as makes no difference to Pelosi’s; and given the former’s eagerness to stab her own party in the back — I think Galen went all-in on a three-card inside straight when he endorsed Scozzafava.
Alas, he is so off on this call, I just can’t keep my lip zipped: A political party must stand for something, or it’s nothing but a Alinskyite power grab. What principle (or principal) of the Republican Party does Scozzafava embody?
She’s a social liberal and a fiscal train wreck. She evidently hates conservatives, one of the core groups of the GOP, with such passion that she would rather see a liberal Democrat win than a Republican who calls himself conservative, no matter how reasonable. Either that, or she was so enraged at the very idea that some peon dared interfere with her free ride to the Capitol dome, that she decided if she couldn’t win, she would make damn sure no Republican would win.
That’s a pretty despicable instance of playing dog in the china shop.
I don’t believe for one second Galen’s claim that “the only vote [he] cares about is the first one,” the organizing vote. When he wrote that, he included a huge bunch of implied but unstated caveats:
- He certainly would not support a Republican who was also a Ku Klux Klansman, such as David Duke.
- Nor would Galen support a corrupt politician just because he was the Republican.
- And I suspect there are policy positions that are so outrageous, Galen would hold his nose and vote for the Democrat rather than a Republican who espoused them; for an obvious example, suppose a “Republican” ran on a platform of ObamaCare, the energy cripple and tax bill, declaring defeat and withdrawing from Afghanistan and Iraq, doubling all federal taxes, and enacting a federal law reimposing racial preferences on all those states that have repudiated them. I would be shocked if Galen could possibly imagine supporting such a nominee… even if he promised faithfully to vote for Boehner in the organizing bill. Oh, wait…
A political party must stand for something; and when the “nominee” (selectee) is as far outside the foundational principles of the Republican Party as Scozzafava appears to be, then even if it throws the election to the Democrat, one cannot in good conscience vote for her. Galen made the same sad error that Newt Gingrich made. Each fell into the sin of thinking of this election as nothing more than a political game and point tally, rather than what it is: a decision that could turn out to be life or death (for our military personnel, for example) and could turn out to be existential for the GOP.
There is a fine line here: We don’t want to throw over reasonably good incumbents and establishment candidates running in purple districts; we don’t want a policy of always supporting the hardest-right candidate in the GOP, because that could easily end up electing the Democrat, if the district as a whole is not as conservative as the candidate picked by the local GOP. More often than not in politics, the best is enemy of good enough.
But on the other hand, there are some principles that a candidate simply may not violate if he wants Republican support. While Dierdre Scozzafava is nowhere near the sludgey bottom of people who call themselves Republicans (David Duke springs to mind), she is certainly far enough down the pickle barrel — and Hoffman is a good enough gamble — that we should leave the DIABLO to ferment all on her own, rather than run the risk of letting her drag the party down to the depths along with her.
Galen and Gingrich should have thought a second time before leaping aboard the Establishment Express.
Cross-posted on Big Lizards…