Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 6, 2010

KEYSTONE KRAZY.... Following up on that last item, it's easy to overlook the effect the shifting Republican "mainstream" has when it comes to labeling partisan "extremists." The same GOP officials and candidates who appeared ridiculous, say, 20 years ago, are now very much in the middle of their party. It's not because they mellowed, it's because they stayed the same while their party kept going to the right.

Josh Marshall noted this in passing overnight, but I think it's important: "The best thing ever to happen to Pat Toomey and Marco Rubio (especially Toomey) is the crop of completely whacky Tea Party nominees in maybe a half dozen Senate races across the country. Back under the old normal, Pat Toomey was a pretty out there guy. Club for Growth politics, a staunch advocate of phasing out Social Security. He seemed close to unelectable in Pennsylvania. But up against Angle, Miller, O'Donnell, he's like Bob Dole."

Agreed. Reader D.K. recently sent me an item from Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Karen Heller, who came across Pat Toomey's book, "The Road to Prosperity: How to Grow Our Economy and Revive the American Dream," which was just published a couple of years ago. Heller learned quite a bit about the ideology of the frontrunner in Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate race.

Every story, even an economic treatise, requires a villain. For Toomey, that's Franklin Roosevelt and his "role in prolonging the Depression." Toomey believes Roosevelt hated the rich. He was rich!

"While people saw the new jobs created by the government," he writes of FDR's efforts to end the Depression, "they did not see the corresponding jobs whose creation was prevented by the allocation of funds away from the private sector."

Right, because companies had so much excess capital for employment when everyone was on a buying spree.

It goes on from there, with Heller noting Toomey's belief that everything will be fine if we just implement a flat tax, and deregulate the credit and mortgage industries. She concludes that Toomey "appears tame" because he avoids the "moral superiority and angry theatrics of other staunch conservatives," but tells readers, "Don't be fooled. Reading Road to Prosperity ... there's nothing moderate about him."

And really, relying on Toomey's book is just scratching the surface, and doesn't even get to his controversial Wall Street past, or the fact that he compares moderate Republicans to communists.

One recent statistical analysis of Toomey's voting record found that, if elected, he'd be much more conservative than Pennsylvanian Rick Santorum, and his votes make him "more conservative than 97.9% of all United States legislators since 1995."

In a more traditional year, Toomey's extremism would be the center of considerable attention, and the political world would marvel at the notion of a state that backed Obama over McCain by double digits would, two years later, elect a hyper-conservative U.S. senator who blames FDR for the Great Depression.

But given the madness of 2010, Toomey seems almost normal, at least for the 21st-century Republican Party, compared to the likes of Angle, Paul, O'Donnell, Buck, and Miller.

Steve Benen 2:55 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (16)

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Steve: please, as a Pennsylvanian, I'm asking you to write much more about Toomey. O'Donnell is at this point dead at the bottom of the dunk tank, but the odious Toomey could actually win.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on October 6, 2010 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Man operates like a real Republican:

By DINA CAPPIELLO, Associated Press Writer Dina Cappiello, Associated Press Writer - Wed Oct 6, 11:48 am ET
WASHINGTON - The White House blocked efforts by federal scientists to tell the public just how bad the Gulf oil spill could have been.

That finding comes from a panel appointed by President Barack Obama to investigate the worst offshore oil spill in history.

In documents released Wednesday, the national oil spill commission reveals that in late April or early May the White House budget office denied a request from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to make public the worst-case discharge from the blown-out well.

Posted by: Well Put on October 6, 2010 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

yes, please write more and often about this dangerous jack ass.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on October 6, 2010 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Oh sure, Mr. Benen writing more about Toomey is all fine and well. My question is, why him and not the Democrats, both the PA state party and the national party? At some point, the undeniably true fact that the press is tilted toward the GOP becomes just another excuse. The game might be rigged, but if they don't even bother to play it then the GOP will win by default.

Every level of the Democratic party need to stop being "polite" and start telling the hard truths about the GOP. No, I take that back. They need to start *shouting* those hard truths at the top of their lungs.

Posted by: Shade Tail on October 6, 2010 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for getting rid of that moving ad.

I think it left emotional scars i hated it so much.

Posted by: bobo on October 6, 2010 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Sestak just put out an ad tying Toomey to Santorum and Palin with a video of Toomey saying (paraphrasing) "My legislative record is much in line with Santorum."

Hopefully this gets as much traction as the McCain "I voted 90% of the time with Bush" ad of 2008.

Posted by: Sam on October 6, 2010 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Here in Philadelphia, at least, Sestak seems to be running a very low-key campaign.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on October 6, 2010 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Here in Pennsylvania, inquiring youngsters are asking, "Who was FDR?

Interesting, is it not, that Republicans are trying to tie today's Democrats to Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, and Hitler? I'm waiting for them to say that, "Everybody Knows that Caligula was a Democrat. . ."

Posted by: DAY on October 6, 2010 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

I hope Joe Sestak has read his book and will starting citing chapter and verse. It's up to him to tie Toomey to Angle and the other wingnuts.

Posted by: bdop4 on October 6, 2010 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

It's a pity that Dems seem to accept the meme that the country is "right of center" and are, perhaps, even collaborating at reinforcing that image. Perhaps that's why Steve keeps writing about the GOPers but nary a word about our side (is it still "our side"?). From yesterday's NYT:

Posted by: exlibra on October 6, 2010 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

-Perhaps that's why Steve keeps writing about the GOPers but nary a word about our side-

There's never a word about Dem garbage. Not to mention hypocrisy: taxes (Kerry, Rangel, Geithner), campaign donations (BP, Goldman Sachs, Obama), public ed (Sidwell, Obama, Biden, Clinton), misremembering (WMDs, Byrd in the KKK) and so on. Not that I blame the guy too much. He's got a decent gig, why muck it up with living the way you say is right and vital for the Good of All (Al Gore)?

Posted by: The Usual on October 6, 2010 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

FDR was rich, sure, but he was one of the "self-hating rich!"

Just saying.

Posted by: Ian on October 6, 2010 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

The reason Toomey is winning has nothing to do with his extremist ideology. It's Joe Sestak, whose windy oratorical style is borderline obnoxious. As much as I want the Democrat to win, I can't help but think Pennsylvanians would sooner listen to someone other than Foghorn Leghorn for the next six years. Sestak's biography and decency should have made him a sure winner. He's losing in spite of that.

Posted by: walt on October 6, 2010 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

debate coming, more ads coming, voters here just really tunung in in the last couple of weeks.

it is not over by a long shot but it will surely come down to gotv.

Posted by: sue on October 6, 2010 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

The Usual: ["There's never a word about Dem garbage."]

That's outright false. Mr. Benen regularly highlights bad democrats when they are germane to his blog. Either you haven't been reading here for very long, or you're lying in order to make a hackish partisan attack.

I'm guessing the later, since at least a good half of your so-called examples are just Faux "News" lies.

Posted by: Shade Tail on October 6, 2010 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

it's a hard year for Democrats; but if Toomey wins, Pennsylvania Democrats have no one to blame but themselves. They nominated a weak candidate.

Posted by: larry birnbaum on October 7, 2010 at 8:08 AM | PERMALINK
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