Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 15, 2010

A PARTY REAPS WHAT IT SOWS.... Congressional Republicans haven't played a constructive role in policymaking over the last couple of years, in part because they disagree so strongly with Democrats, but there's more to it than that. They've also boxed themselves in -- after a party condemns a president as an illegitimate Communist intent on destroying on America, the party has left itself very little room for compromise.

Indeed, based on its own larger attack strategy, how can the GOP be expected to find common ground with a policy agenda it considers un-American? It's how we go from the GOP agreeing with 80% of the Democratic health care plan to the GOP considering the same plan "Armageddon." Republicans have positioned themselves in such a way as to make working with those who may disagree with them largely impossible.

But this dynamic is not limited to policymaking. Jon Chait explained overnight how this attitude -- the GOP have characterized their efforts as "a twilight struggle to save the last vestiges of the Republic" -- applies to campaign politics.

The premise of all these pleas for [Mike Castle in Delaware's Republican Senate primary] was extremely sensible: this is politics. Sometimes you move the ball forward, sometimes the other team moves it forward. Sometimes you make compromises in order to get ahead.

But the Republican base has been taught not to think this way. This isn't just politics, remember? This is a twilight struggle for freedom. And Mike Castle didn't just cast a couple bad votes. He acquiesced in a sinister plan to undermine capitalism. How could they ever support a candidate like that?

Quite right. These voters have been told by their party not to compromise or settle for partial victories. There's just too much at stake, they're told. Evil forces are trying to take your country away.

Easily misled and manipulated people bought into this rhetoric. They've come to believe it's their responsibility to elect radical ideologues who'll save us from impending doom. Sensible people with last names like Castle, Crist, Specter, Bennett, Murkowski, and Inglis were insufficiently right-wing, so they were cast aside.

These activists have been fed red meat that's been tainted without their knowledge -- and now those who did the tainting are frustrated when the activists end up sick.

There's a limit to this, of course. Republicans are still poised to have an exceptionally good election cycle, and many of the lunatic candidates who've won primaries without the party's backing are very likely to win anyway.

But stepping back, even with the GOP's expected gains in mind, Republicans' carefully-executed strategy will leave them with (a) fewer wins than they would have had; (b) a smaller, more extreme party; (c) a base that's been taught to reject any and all compromises; and (d) a party incapable of governing effectively.

As I said earlier, Frankenstein didn't like his monster very much, but he still had to live with the consequences.

Steve Benen 10:15 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (28)

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Once you align yourself with jihadists then you have a jihad. I knew that Republicans reminded me of Muslim holy warriors for some reason. I hope they have fun on their suicide mission!

Posted by: Trollop on September 15, 2010 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder if Mitch McConnell is sleeping well these days. How did he think the base would react to his no-compromise, filibuster everything approach? Did he expect them to then vote for GOP "moderates" just because the Party said so?
I hope these nuts all go down in a big way.

Posted by: slader on September 15, 2010 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, dummies, we only wanted to manipulate your minds so you would vote the way we wanted you to when we wanted you to do it. We didn't expect you to actually *believe* the garbage we were pumping into your skulls 24/7 through every corrupt media format on the planet.

What are you people, stupid or something??

Posted by: Curmudgeon on September 15, 2010 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

When was the last time you referred to Murkowski as "sensible"?

Posted by: Folacin on September 15, 2010 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

Sadly, we have to live with the monster also.

We're already suffering from the antics of the lunatic zealots already in office - I despair when I think how bad it will be when we get more DeMints and Inhofes. Or worse, when DeMint and Inhofe are determined to be RINOs themselves, as the new-generation crazies continue their trajectory toward insanity.

Posted by: biggerbox on September 15, 2010 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

It’s that time of year, so I’ll offer a football analogy.

We are all on the same team (Team America) and we want to ‘win’- succeed as a nation.

But half the coaches say we should pass the ball, and the other half says, no, we should run the ball. And if you don’t do it our way, we ain’t gonna block, and your quarterback will be sacked.

Unfortunately that means we don’t win the “Superbowl”, don’t get the extra money and a shiny ring.

Democrats and Republicans alike should think about ALL of the citizens, for a change.

Posted by: DAY on September 15, 2010 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Sensible people with last names like Castle, Crist, Specter, Bennett, Murkowski, and Inglis...

Relatively.

Murkowski was, in her way, sensible -- until Joe Miller filed to challenge her.

Posted by: Grumpy on September 15, 2010 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

...and how many states did Goldwater win? 6!

Posted by: grinninglibber on September 15, 2010 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

The crazies are definitely calling the shots, McCain cringed when controlled by the tea baggers, he said all the right things just like a puppet, little did he know what was happening when he unleashed Palin on the world.

Posted by: JS on September 15, 2010 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

Why doesn't the DNC run ads showing the GOP 'kooks' with some of their outrageous statements ?

2nd Amendment remedies
'Lazy' unemployed
Racist emails
a CEO (Meg Whitman) Physically attacking her employee and then covering it up with a money settlement
Carly fiorina saying "There is no job that is America's God-given right any more", while she shipped jobs overseas

Pass the tax cuts for the middle class and let the GOP fillibuster it, defending tax cuts for the rich

Posted by: friscoSF on September 15, 2010 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, DAY, to borrow your analogy, half the coaches want to pass the ball, and the others say the Constitution doesn't say anything about passing, and besides, turning it over after four downs is a Socialist idea, and they want to dribble the ball forward for a home run, the way Jesus intended.

Posted by: biggerbox on September 15, 2010 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

Sadly the past 2 years Democratic party has demonstrated that it's just as ineffective as the Republican party. It's mind blowing that the Democratic party couldn't get much of anything passed with huge majorities in both houses and the presidency. Stunning statement of how ineffective the Democratic party has become.

Posted by: fxston on September 15, 2010 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Mr. Benen: Dr. Frankenstein didn't just "live with it," he had to run from it as it relentlessly went after him and his family - and in the end,the monster prevailed over his master!

Do you think the "Republican Establishment Scientists" screwed up when they gave life to the crazies? -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on September 15, 2010 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

While I agree with the broad outline of the rhetorical funnel that the GOP has wedged itself into, the usual factors of a low-turnout primary and an uneducated electorate still apply to this election. Like Palin, O'Donnell is pretty and is only crazy-sounding if you're paying attention.

Posted by: Rathskeller on September 15, 2010 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Every one of those individuals that you named was willing to let the GOP's national leaders (Rove, Rush et al.) do almost anything (there seems to be evidence that this includes jailing political opponents) when it was to their benefit. Now they are are having second thoughts about how it all turned out? That's too bad.

Posted by: rk on September 15, 2010 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

All of the posts this morning are interesting. I think that while we can honestly term most of these "tea party" types as leaning toward the "tin foil hat" end of the spectrum, these results show that they are not totally crazy. Someone {Kochs?] clearly understands the statistics and probablilty of small numbers. In my grand state, about 2000 Republican state delegates made the decision to oust Bennett. 2000 out of 1,500, 000 registered voters. In other words, 0.133% of the registered voters of the 36th largest state have effectively determined one of 100 votes on treaties, presidential appointees, etc. [Doesn't that make you feel good ...]

The same effective strategy has worked in most of these other places- even big states. Motivating a small hard core group with the primary nominating process has established a great deal of pseuod credibility of these folks - "Republican candidate for senate Rand Paul" is a priori a legitimitization. And has been leaking out finally, there is a very effective down low strategy of using well placed money from the Kochs, Scaifes, etc., + Fox news + bitterness+anger+bigotry+ ignorance to get us to a set of senate nominees who we would have deed as nutjobs 20 yrs ago

Posted by: bigutah on September 15, 2010 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

I think you have things backward. The Republican Party didn't feed its base tainted red meat...the Republican Party willfully poisoned itself with a radical fringe's tainted meat. The Republican Party made a deal with a monster and now that monster is eating it alive. It's a big mistake to excuse and pass off these people as ignorant, uneducated, fearful or uniformed. The Republican Party was very well aware of who they were dealing with and ignored the consequences. They started with the christian right and then dug deeper into the muck and found the tea baggers. And I'll tell you, by the time the dust settles from all of this, they'll never wash the stink off.

I have a feeling the Democrats will hold their majorities in both houses of congress, but will lose a significant number of seats. I also think a good number of the lunatic fringe who are winning these primaries will be elected. We're in for a hideous two years. Unfortunately most people don't really understand the danger. I think to most people this is entertaining. Once a few of these freaks are actually seeded in the Senate and House the american people will get a very unpleasant lesson in reality.

We're in for a hideous two years, but 2012 may be a very cleansing election. If people thought the Bush brand of the GOP was bad, wait until this crowd gets it's foot in the door.

Posted by: SaintZak on September 15, 2010 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

If it's a corrupt media, how would many of the Democrat's ads get out to Main Street, 'cause it's Fox News playing in my doctor's office.

If voting is getting the crazies to win primaries, isn't that where the whole and total focus of Democrats should be: Voting and telling everyone to vote.

The Left acting all discouraged sends just as strong a message to voters as the continual criticism from the Right. America is starving for hope. Maybe the anger is because the Right won't allow us to move on, they need to keep the beehive riled or else they lose.

So the Right needs anger. The Left is far more hopeful. Everyone on the left should be showing hope for America, ours isn't the perfect party, but it offers a hell of a lot more positives for the general populous than the Party of No and the frickin' Teabaggers.

No More Backward! Take America Forward. VOTE!

Dems are still fighting, even a micro-step at a time, like the health care bill. Every single one of us should vote, and every single one of us should show hope, not arrogance, just plain simple home-grown hope, and get our fellow progressives to vote. Its the easiest and best solution. VOTE! No More Backward!

Posted by: No More Backward on September 15, 2010 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

Once a few of these freaks are actually seeded in the Senate and House the American people will get a very unpleasant lesson in reality.
Posted by: SaintZak on September 15, 2010 at 11:44 AM

Good. And not a moment too soon, either. Maybe when the shock finally hits at just how radical these people are, the general public will stop treating elections like some extra tacky edition of "American Idol" and take things a little more seriously. But, as in "Frankenstein," there's going to be a lot of damage before this is resolved.

Posted by: electrolite on September 15, 2010 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

The Tea Party consists of people who are deeply unhappy but due to a diet of delicious propaganda are incapable of identifying the cause of their misery.

The left was (and is) incapable of understanding this, or working with it, and so there is no hope short of divine intervention.

Posted by: Forrest on September 15, 2010 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

The left was (and is) incapable of understanding this, or working with it, and so there is no hope short of divine intervention.

Actually, at this point I'm wondering if we shouldn't start hoping for an invasion from outer space.

Posted by: electrolite on September 15, 2010 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

"(d) a party incapable of governing effectively."

- what was known as the Republican party doesn't exist anymore; whoever is running that asylum does not WANT to govern; they just want the power.

Posted by: Rollah on September 15, 2010 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP right now reminds me of people that invited a bunch of cannibals over to their place for a nice family barbeque. Things were going swell until the cannibals decided to start cooking and eating the family pets. And then they started thinking that their hosts would grill up real nice ...

Oops. But wait ... it seemed like such a good idea at the time!!

There are some things you just can't blame on Obama.

Although I suspect that the GOP's backers and flackers are cynical enough that they will keep supporting these radicals and nuts, no matter what ... because they are part of the team, and against the Democrats.

Posted by: Bokonon on September 15, 2010 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

whew!!! smells like sour grapes... man the folks that preach tolerance sure push a lot of hate out there...

Posted by: Republic on September 16, 2010 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

The oil banking/energy cartel(Kochs,Melons)who are fueling the political insurgency, don't want government that works, they want imperial rule and empire with the Neocon/PNACers.

Posted by: What'sInaName on September 17, 2010 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

The republicans and their hatemongers have spent the last 20 years systematically dehumanizing and declaring war on large segments of the American population: Blacks, latinos, muslims, liberals, progressives, unions, working men and women down on their luck, the middle class wage earner who actually earns a living wage, all the media except Fox News; in short, anyone who is not a conservative christain who worships capitalism and multinational corporations instead of jesus christ. They've managed to brainwash an awful lot of people who will vote anyway their religious and political leaders tell them.

The Republicans are all too willing to cave into these types to regain and maintain power. If they win, can you imagine the kind of legislation the Republican party will bring forward and try to enact in order to provide the crazies that make up their base with a constant supply of red meat? Who else will cave? The media in order to gain access - The crazies will have no problem denying media coverage to all networks except Fox News if they don't like the coverage. And they will get away with it because networks will easily sacrifice principle for profit. Think about it.

Posted by: RandomThinker on September 17, 2010 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

The republicans and their hatemongers have spent the last 20 years systematically dehumanizing and declaring war on large segments of the American population: Blacks, latinos, muslims, liberals, progressives, unions, working men and women down on their luck, the middle class wage earner who actually earns a living wage, all the media except Fox News, and all other religions who do not believe in their conservative brand of christainity.

The Republicans are all too willing to cave into these types to regain and maintain power. If they win, can you imagine the kind of legislation the Republican party will bring forward and try to enact in order to provide the crazies that make up their base with a constant supply of red meat? Who else will cave?

Posted by: RandomThinker on September 17, 2010 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

A PARTY REAPS WHAT IT SOWS.... Congressional Republicans haven't played a constructive role in policymaking over the last couple of years,

Hard to play a constructive role when they change the locks on the doors and have to bribe their own party members to get their agenda passed. Keep it coming you bunch of little ALINSKY's. The rules for radicals is not going well for you idiots is it now? The administration will be investigated as soon as we take power. Your black list you are keeping on Corporations will be exposed. The DOJ will also be exposed for the racist organization it has become under OBAMA. Can't wait for the meltdown in November. I just love all the Democrats who are running away from Obama in their adds. That is priceless.

Posted by: ddUB on September 17, 2010 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK
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