Political Animal


September 25, 2012 2:04 PM Up Against the Wall, RINOs!

By Ed Kilgore

Like his older doppelganger Rush Limbaugh, conservative commissar Erick Erickson of RedState is by nature a bully. His whole shtick is to treat partisan opponents as virtual subhumans, and intraparty opponents as lunch. So it’s entirely in character for him to issue an ultimatum to the latter holding them strictly responsible for Mitt Romney’s candidacy, and threatening to drive them like curs from the ranks of the righteous if he loses:

There are a lot of elitist Republicans who have spent several years telling us Mitt Romney was the only electable Republican. Because the opinion makers and news media these elitists hang out with have concluded Romney will not win, the elitists are in full on panic mode. They conspired to shut out others, tear down others, and prop up Romney with the electability argument. He is now not winning against the second coming of Jimmy Carter. They know there will be many conservatives, should Mitt Romney lose, who will not be satisfied until every bridge is burned with these jerks, hopefully with the elitist jerks tied to the bridge as it burns.
So they are in a panic. They are now throwing Romney under the bus to spare themselves. They are now doing the, “It’s not us, it’s him” routine. For years these people have gotten by knowing that they could hold the base of the GOP in contempt while holding on to their precious positions of “thought leaders” within the conservative movement and have no consequence should things go awry.
Not now. They invested too much in Mitt Romney and now they are running scared. They seem to think that if they cry and scream loud enough and point fingers at Mitt Romney, they’ll again be protected from any sort of blame. They think the conservative movement will give them a pass just as the movement did with No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, Harriet Miers, TARP, etc.

Note that this tale of betrayal goes deep into the Bush administration, which is interesting if you remember that W. was the united, universal, unanimous candidate of the conservative movement in 2000.

The staggering irony is that those of us who did not want Romney are now the ones defending him to the hilt while the elitist jerks are distancing themselves from Romney as quickly as possible — both upset at what their media friends tell them is to come and upset that Mitt Romney might not actually listen to their sweet whispers as much as they originally presumed.

This isn’t strictly accurate, since it’s not the “elitist” RINOs who are bitching 24/7 about the muzzling of Paul Ryan and the refusal of Romney to run a vicious campaign identifying Barack Obama as an un-American baby-killing Christ-hater who wants to turn the country into a replica of the Soviet Union.

But that’s probably beside the point to people like Erickson. All “his” presidential candidates were remorselessly destroyed by Romney and mocked by the “elitists” promoting Mitt. They own this candidacy, and their conservative activist opponents are already positioning themselves to call in the mortgage on Mitt’s many promises to them if he wins and disclaim responsibility for the whole mess if he loses. So nobody should have a single illusion that Romney will have a “honeymoon” with his own party base if he’s elected, or that Republicans will “move to the center” if Obama is re-elected.

It’s the scenario of a Romney win that is the most theoretically intriguing (if concretely alarming). Unlike John McCain, Romney has almost no independent political capital or personal following (with the sole exception of LDS members). He has long since alienated Democrats beyond any hope of repair. As president, he would be totally dependent on a party base and conservative commentariat that are deeply mistrustful of his intentions. They would spend the transition to a Romney administration securing as many blood pledges as possible, and demanding the heads of the very people Erickson is attacking in this post. To put it another way, it really doesn’t matter what happens on November 7: the purge-and-litmus-test-enforced domination of the GOP by a radicalized conservative movement will continue apace.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Snarki, child of Loki on September 25, 2012 2:12 PM:

    Wow, will history almost repeat itself?

    As in: "The Night of the Long Knives", except this time it's the Brownshirts that are the winners?

  • Anonymous on September 25, 2012 2:23 PM:

    As president, he would be totally dependent on a party base and conservative commentariat that are deeply mistrustful of his intentions. They would spend the transition to a Romney administration securing as many blood pledges as possible, and demanding the heads of the very people Erickson is attacking in this post. To put it another way, it really doesn’t matter what happens on November 7: the purge-and-litmus-test-enforced domination of the GOP by a radicalized conservative movement will continue apace.

    Hell Ed. You almost make me want to see it.

  • danimal on September 25, 2012 2:24 PM:

    I'm more optimistic than most that, as Obama has predicted, the GOP 'fever' will break when Obama wins the election. That does not mean that Rush or Ericson or DeMint or Cantor will change their beliefs or tactics; it means that the GOP will not be able to enforce lock-step unity on the GOP caucus. Purple-district reps will want to actually represent their district, and won't have the animus towards an Obama election threatening them to keep in line. Most likely, a 10% defection rate will occur on some issues, and this will be enough to pass legislation.

  • Russell B on September 25, 2012 2:26 PM:

    The beauty of it all is that, thanks to Teapublicans' by-now well-known motivated reasoning pathology, no matter how sideways the country went under a Romney administration, it would always be the fault of those who aren't "conservative enough" and/or (to borrow a phrase from the elder President Bush) the "carping little liberals" roadblocking perfectly sensible, Originalist, "principled" conservative policies.

    If Romney loses, it's because he wasn't Conservative Enough (best of all possible outcomes, frankly, for Erickson and Limbaugh, as it will keep them in readers, listeners, Viagra, and adolescent Dominican prostitutes for another 4 years).

    If he wins and governs poorly, it's because he isn't Conservative Enough *and* because there aren't enough Conservative Enough legislators in Congress -- so off with the RINOs' heads and let's get rid of the Democrat Party.

    If he wins in 2012 and fails at re-election, it's because he isn't Conservative Enough.

    I really do admire these folks -- they have constructed for themselves a Perpetual Rationalization machine.

  • SadOldVet on September 25, 2012 2:28 PM:

    Great posting Ed.

    I am hopeful that the post election repuknican party will become full blown internecine warfare with the teabaggers taking no prisoners.

    Praise the Lord and pass the popcorn!

  • c u n d gulag on September 25, 2012 2:36 PM:

    What I love about people like son of many previous Erick's, is that he thinks, "Oh, if only the public could find out what we really stand for, they'd be on OUR side! LOOSEN THE NEWT! PUT FORTH THE PALIN!! UNLEASH THE RYAN!!!"

    Son of many previous Erick's, in order to win elections, there's a reason 2-3 generations of Republicans have had to sugar-coat their message, if not hide it altogether, and try to look at least slightly compassionate - they're trying to win elections!

    Screaming "FECK YOU, AND FECK YOUR'S!!! ME AND MINE HAVE OURS!!! SO FECK OFF - YOU'RE ON YOUR FECKIN' OWN!!! AND YOUR OLD MAMA, TOO!!!" won't win you too many elections.

    Why CNN keeps this fat @$$hole on the air, just astounds me.

  • Jimbo on September 25, 2012 2:38 PM:

    His -- and the base's -- lack of self awareness is hilarious.

    The reason they're losing is because THEY'RE THE MINORITY. A majority of the people, who usually decide elections, disagree with them on most things.

    They live in a world where they honestly believe everyone else sees the country through the same Fox News, talk radio, right-wing blogs prism.

    Good for Democrats, I guess, but bad for the country.

  • Josef K on September 25, 2012 2:38 PM:

    I have little sympathy for any of the GOP or its backers anymore. Erickson's little diatribe runs the risk of becoming a reality come November.

    Anyone care to lay odds on how quickly little Eric will run from his words if/when someone gets lynched? I'm betting he'll break Mach 2.

  • dweb on September 25, 2012 2:41 PM:

  • paul on September 25, 2012 2:46 PM:

    Democrats should be laying the groundwork now for 2014. If the republican party splinters over this election, there whould be candidates ready at all levels in every state.

  • BillFromPA on September 25, 2012 2:55 PM:

    IMHO, any notion that a defeat in '12 or anytime in the future will 'cure' the GOP of anything is naive at best. Something around 20% of the electorate align themselves with the 'Baggers, they're not a tiny bit of cancer on the GOP, they're the biggest block in the GOP. There are no moderate repugs on the national, and by that I mean repugs who actually VOTE in a moderate pattern, not just speak moderately but fall in line when orderded to by the 'Baggers.

    The 'disease' the GOP has is fatal, if not immediately, then not much later. They're defending a view of America that is broadly white, paternalistic,authoritarian, homophobic and tribal. And disappering. I'm a 62 yr old WASP, and good riddance to their vision of the country, I hope to live to see the end of the Atwater/Rove political model.

  • Varecia on September 25, 2012 2:57 PM:

    Mitt Romney as the candidate was a marriage made in hell between all of these people--they ALL share in the blame. The GOP is a mess and it's their COLLECTIVE mess.

  • FriscoSF on September 25, 2012 3:14 PM:

    HA ! HA !
    I hope they lose BADLY and there is a Civil War
    What happens then ?
    Do they get more conservative ?
    Do they go 'moderate' ?
    Do they splinter ?
    Probably, they just muddle through

    Coming in 2016:

    Gingrich-Jindal !!
    America's Future

    HA ! HA !
    Pass the popcorn !!

  • nerd on September 25, 2012 3:16 PM:

    Interesting how the echo chamber allows folks like Erickson to so isolate themselves that they don't realize how divorced from reality they are.

    If one of Erickson's preferred candidates had made it to the nomination that candidate would be so far behind there would be no doubt about the outcome of the election.

    It is the spittle-flecked ferocity of Erickson, et al, that has created the current situation. The most fervent adherents of an ideology eventually end up excluding people and it is that act of exclusion (of people and ideas) that leads to their downfall. Thank goodness.

  • Sad Brother In Law on September 25, 2012 3:27 PM:

    The other night my son visited his aunt, a true believer that the President is a socialist, a communist, a muslim and the second coming of Jimmy Carter. She read a series of Obama quotes she says he took from Marx or Lenin (or somebody like that.) My son listened for a while and after recognizing that Thomas Jefferson was the author of several of the Obama quotes concluded (1) his aunt listens to Fox and Friends way too much and (2) he is going to vote for President Obama.

    Those in the conservative bubble are unable to recognize reality when they encounter it. The inflators of the bubble, like Erickson, are very, very good at propaganda, but not so good at reality. The conservative bubble just isn't big enough. The eyes of too many people are still open.

    My sister in law is in for a rude awakening in early November.

  • Milt on September 25, 2012 3:32 PM:

    Everyone knows politics is a pendulum. The swing to the right is completing its arc and it will soon start to move back toward the center. Tick tock, tick tock.

  • Mitch on September 25, 2012 3:47 PM:


    "The reason they're losing is because THEY'RE THE MINORITY."

    Indeed, which is rather scary. The most frightening part to me: They do not CARE that they are the minority.

    "Conservatives" like Erickson are True Believers—they already KNOW that they are correct; facts, logic, reason, history and the desires of the voting public do not matter one bit to people like him. They have no real interest in democracy, only in forcing their dogmas (political, social and religious) upon other people.

    As the GOP continues to whittle itself down to an ever-smaller base of ever more convinced True Believers, they become more and more desperate and more and more dangerous. History has shown the immense threat of an impassioned minority again and again, particularly when this minority is backed by powerful and/or wealthy interests (see: Bin Laden, Hitler, Stalin and Mao).

    So the growing extremism of the GOP may not be a good thing—even if it does rend that party asunder. I would much rather the GOP change to a more sane position, where they are able to negotiate with the Democrats and work across the aisle for the good of the nation, than to see them overthrown by zealots and reactionaries.

    Alas, another lesson of history is that zealots seldom burn out due to losing, or a lack of public support. They generally keep growing in fervor until they gain ultimate power, and only then does the outrage at their inevitable abuse of that power grow enough to cause their fall.

    We do live in interesting times, indeed—for good and for bad.

  • bluestatedon on September 25, 2012 4:44 PM:

    To remind everybody of CNN's total abandonment of any notion of objectivity and journalistic professionalism, they pay a large sum of money to a man who said this about a sitting Supreme Court justice:

    "The nation loses the only goat f***ing child molester to ever serve on the Supreme Court in David Souter's retirement."

    The notion that the GOP and the conservative movement will return to some semblance of sanity after a Romney defeat is willfully if not delusionally naive. The reason is that, as Andrew Sullivan has been correctly pointing out for quite a while, the Republican Party has become a theocratic party. Its base and now most of its leading national figures are explicity Evangelical Christianists who believe in Biblical inerrancy, which includes vegetarian dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden 5,000 years ago, a complete rejection of evolution and climate change, and hostility to modern science in general. For one of the more recent expressions of this mentality, just look up Governor Goodhair's pronouncements on Satan in America.

    For these people, their religion dictates their entire worldview, and determines their political attitudes. They are utterly convinced of the God-ordained rightness of their views, and this magical thinking is literally impervious to external reality and fact.

    While I don't think for a minute that guys like Limbaugh and Erickson and Hannity subscribe to this particular brand of religion, they all know that both the Christianists and the corporate media plutocrats who sign their checks are also deeply wedded to a unique blend of jingoist American Exceptionalism and the Prosperity Gospel, which of course is made manifest in tax cuts and the elimination of regulations and the agencies who enforce them.

  • Renai on September 25, 2012 4:58 PM:

    First off, Erickson is penalized 17 times for excessive use of "them" and "they".

    Beyond that, boring, just a continuation of deflection of responsibility. No "we", no proactive use of the word "us", just stale accusation free from any ideas of how to create a better more viable party. Yahoo commenters are more imaginative...

    Perhaps the vaguest hint of developing a "real candidate" policy might be a good start to alleviating Erickson's angst for the future of his party.

    I agree that CNN is wasting valuable media space where is put forth sour self-indulgent I-Wanna-Win frustration barely hidden under the surface of that haughty ever-mysterious big picture intellect so many conservatives are convinced they alone have.

    How about giving the space to someone with a less limited vocabulary, a writer not stuck solely on the patented conservative blame verbiage?

    Perhaps Erickson has offered musings unfettered by the same inbred adjectives found on dozens of other conservative blogs, I don’t know. But after ingesting this lazy diary entry, I as a reader am not tempted to bother finding out.

  • merl on September 25, 2012 5:48 PM:

    as much as they whine about any mention of bush by obama you wouldn't think they'd still be blaming carter for our troubles.

  • TCinLA on September 25, 2012 7:05 PM:

    These people are about as "conservative" as the Nazis were, and of course the Nazis also stole the word. If we were to call these people what they are: unreconstructed Confederate white supremacist theocratic fascists, nobody would vote for them. This is what happens when the parasite tries to take over the host.

  • Doug on September 25, 2012 7:25 PM:

    I only wish the current crop of Teabagging Republican candidates WOULD campaign on what passes for their "principles"! Can you say "1936"?
    Unlike Mitch, I'm not too worried about diehard 'baggers employing violence to establish a nation-wide theocracy. There just isn't enough of them and, more importantly, there simply aren't enough sympathizers for such actions to be successful or to attain the goal of those actions.
    Doesn't mean some idiots won't try...

  • Mitch on September 25, 2012 8:00 PM:


    We often speak of the 27 percent whose beliefs are astoundingly ignorant, considering the known facts of reality in the modern world. So, maybe we don't need to be afraid of the entire 40+ percent who believe in some form of Biblical literalism such as (to quote bluestatedon, above), "vegetarian dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden 5,000 years ago" so there are more sympathizers than you think. Maybe we only need to worry about 27 percent.

    Or almost one third of the nation.

    Or around 100 million people.

    I believe that means that there are more than enough sympathizers for us to worry about.

    If the 27 percent grew determined to "re-take this nation for Christ" through armed revolution, how many more people would join them to avoid offending their friends and family? How many would join them out of fear of displeasing God?

    Never forget that religious leaders have often called their followers to arms in pursuit of their temporal/political goals. Fifteen centuries of European history is literally full of this. Read about the persecution of the Lollards during the 14th-15th centuries, sometime.

    That's just one of countless examples.

    Also, if you have not, please read about the expansion of Evangelical Fundamentalism in the military. Yesterday, I provided a link about this issue, but in case you missed it: http://www.owlnet.rice.edu/~dml1/Evangelical%20Elites%20in%20the%20US%20Military.pdf

    There are countless other resources online that study this distressing phenomenon. I believe that it should make anyone who is not a Fundamentalist worry.

    "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition," as Monty Python said. Well I say, nobody expects them until it's too late.

  • DRF on September 25, 2012 8:20 PM:

    Wow. Erickson's screed is just plain ugly. Clearly, he's referring to Noonan, Brooks, Scarborough and some others who in recent days have been public in their criticism of Romney and his campaign. Erickson calls them "elites" (which translates as "educated Americans who disagree with me"); Michelle Malkin came right out and accused them of trying to curry favor with the Establishment and elites.

    What both Erickson and Malkin, as well as other rabid right wing commentators, refuse to address is that the criticism of the Romney campaign is absolutely accurate. So these commentators are asserting that the critics should value partisan loyalty over the truth. But, of course, Noonan, Brooks et al. aren't GOP operatives, they are journalists (whatever you think of their merits as journalists).

  • 14All on September 25, 2012 10:17 PM:

    "To put it another way, it really doesn’t matter what happens on November 7: the purge-and-litmus-test-enforced domination of the GOP by a radicalized conservative movement will continue apace."

    Here's hoping they keep it up until it's just ol' Grover, Rush and Ryan sitting around a table playing poker.

  • rrk1 on September 26, 2012 8:25 AM:

    After the 2008 election, the punditocracy was certain that the Rethugs were in the wilderness for the foreseeable future. That internal strife would tear it apart and prevent it from being a political force in future elections, or until a more centrist faction took control. Look at what happened. The Teathugs got stronger, doubled down on their losses, and drove out more moderates in 2010, and with Koch brothers' funding are feeling their oats in 2012. The cry of "not conservative enough" has required multiple changes of underwear, and struck fear in the hearts of many GOP stalwarts. Just ask Richard Lugar and Olympia Snowe.

    If Romney losses, not a done deal at all, and Congress stays divided, what makes anyone think the cry of "not conservative enough" is going away? A few looney-tunes may become violent, and there may be some congressional defections to a mythical center, but as long as the money supports the crazies they aren't going away. The Nazis were a definite minority in Germany in the early 30s, but big industry and personal wealth were behind them. As long as the 1% keep supporting the GOP, no matter how fascist it becomes, we can expect more obstructionism, gridlock, and un-governability until the country literally falls apart.

    It's doubtful the 1% want to go so far as a military dictatorship to hold things together. They want control and if this corporate cardboard cutout of a candidate, Romney, is unsuccessful, another will be found, or perhaps already has been: Ryan.

    Demographic changes won't matter much even if the Democrats stand to gain from the demise of Old White bigots. The hard right has always been with us, and will continue to be. The Dems can't get themselves arrested, and the most we can hope for is a three party system: progressives - Rockefeller Republican Democrats - Confederate, white supremacist, theocratic bigot Fascist Republicans*. It will all depend on where the money is.

    *With thanks to the commenter above who provided this shorthand description.

  • Doug on September 26, 2012 7:31 PM:

    Mitch, I KNEW I didn't phrase it as well as I should have.
    By "sympathizer" I meant those willing to aid, abet and participate in violence aimed at overthrowing our Constitution. While I have no doubt there COULD be bombings and assassinations, I don't believe that the armed forces would, as organized units, be participants.
    Hopefully, none of us will have to find out if I'm right in my assessment.

  • Mitch on September 26, 2012 7:58 PM:


    I certainly hope that you are correct. I would love nothing more than an end to religious violence throughout the world.

    I was reading a book about the life and death of Jan Huss last night. Huss was a precurser to the Reformation, by all accounts a kind and gentle man who displayed the best traits of Christianity. Alas, but he had the courage to argue for scriptural supremacy above Catholic traditions and against the idea of papal infallability and the primacy of Rome a century before Luther. And at the Council of Constance (one of the most important historical events that has been generally forgotten these days) Huss was burned alive in before the jeering crowd.

    And all I could think was, "Why do religious people so often insist on killing those who disagree with them? After all, if their faith is right, then they have already won, and God will Himself deliver the guilty to punishment as He sees fit."

    I wish that it were not so, and I am incredibly happy that the "Western World" has generally rejected violence as a tool of faith. But I am all too aware that a century or so of tolerance does not mean that such cruelties are behind us forever.

    Compare ancient Islamic society to that of the "Islamic World" today. The blind Syrian philosopher Al-Ma'arri (973-1058 CE) said, "The inhabitants of the earth are of two sorts: those with brains, but no religion, and those with religion, but no brains."

    Were he active today, he would be on the run or dead.

    And Rome, in it's day was even more multi-cultural and multi-faith than America today.

    I hope that you are correct my friend, but we must always remember history, for the obvious reason.