Mr. Cornyn, who has been on the receiving end of anti-establishment anger, argued that the Tea Party had helped Republicans in one important respect, by moving the debate away from social issues. While Tea Party supporters tend to be socially conservative on issues like same-sex marriage and abortion, most say they don’t want to talk about them; they believe that by spending so much time on those issues, the Republican Party failed to focus on fiscal conservatism.
While social issues tend to be polarizing, Republicans can win on economic issues, Mr. Cornyn said, because the Democrats have been in charge as the economy has gone south.
“As I’ve traveled,” he said, “I’ve talked to a lot of folks who are basically independents who say: I’m fine with the Republicans as long as we’re talking about fiscal responsibility. Where I go off the reservation is when you talk about social issues.”
I assume this explains why he’s resisting pressure from the Family Research Council to cancel an appearance at a fundraiser for the Log Cabin Republicans. Cornyn’s response to FRC chief Tony Perkins:
“First, part of my job is to reach out to those committed to defeat Senate Democrats this November,” Cornyn wrote in the letter obtained by CNN. “The Log Cabin Republicans are doing just that, as they stand for fiscal discipline, limited government, and a strong national defense. We may not agree on several key issues, but we do agree that every committee in the United States Senate should be chaired by a Republican.
“Second, as social conservatives we affirm the basic dignity of every human life, including not only unborn children, but also adults with whom we may disagree. I believe we are all made in the image and likeness of God. I believe the beauty and blessing of America is that people of different faiths and creeds can live together in peace, despite serious disagreements. Respecting each other’s dignity does not mean ignoring those disagreements, but rather being honest about them, and working together where possible despite them. I trust that was the spirit in which I was invited to this event; I know it is the spirit in which I accepted it.”
I was thinking this morning when I read that passage that, to my knowledge, there’s no clear “true conservative” position on, say, gay marriage at the moment. Opinions run the gamut from Palin, who still (I think) supports the Federal Marriage Amendment, to Rush Limbaugh, who supports civil unions but not marriage, to Glenn Beck, who takes the traditional libertarian pro-marriage stance of MYOB. It is indeed fiscal issues around which tea partiers coalesce, although there’s a little room for dissent even there — I think. In one of the O’Donnell threads the other night, I said that a Senate with 60 Paul Ryans would sound great to me; a commenter reminded me that he voted for TARP, and I replied by asking whether in a primary he’d prefer Ryan with his TARP heresy or O’Donnell. He said O’Donnell. Gulp.
Exit question: Any big problem among HA readers with Cornyn attending the Log Cabin fundraiser? I doubt he’s planning to offer some kind of Republican benediction for all things gay, just a midterm pep talk about common ground, emphasizing the issues that unite us, etc etc.
Update: Right after I published this, a reader e-mailed us a tip with a link to this story about Obama naming Chris Christie to a federal trade panel. The subject line of the e-mail: “ENDORSED CASTLE OVER O’DONNELL.” Gulp.