Political Animal


February 13, 2013 5:01 PM “Buckley Rule” In Action?

By Ed Kilgore

No sooner did I finish my last post than I ran across a little item that might provide a good test for the “Buckley Rule” in action, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Jim Galloway, who shared portions of a fundraising letter from 2014 Senate candidate Paul Broun, Jr.:

As a Member of the House of Representatives for the last few years, I have fought tooth-and-nail against President Obama’s agenda at every turn.
I was the first Member of Congress to call him a socialist who embraces Marxist-Leninist [sic!] policies like government control of health care and redistribution of wealth….
Truth be told, except for foreign policy, Ron Paul’s voting record and mine are virtually identical and I wear it as a badge of honor when I’m accused of being a strict constitutionalist who doesn’t bend or break when it’s tempting to do so….
In Congress last session I was honored to enjoy a close friendship with TEA Party favorite Lt. Colonel Allen West from Florida.
On the Senate side, I’m a staunch ally of now retired Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina — and of course, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky….
I am a constitutional conservative FIRST — and yes, I proudly belong to the limited-government wing of the Republican Party.

Now it’s possible that polls will show Broun being too wacky for Georgia general election voters. But suppose Democrats aren’t able to mount a credible candidacy, and it thus becomes just a matter of Republicans picking whoever the hell they actually want to serve in the Senate? If the “Buckley Rule” holds that the “rightwardmost viable candidate” should always be favored, it’s kind of hard imagining anyone getting to the starboard side of Paul Broun.

To put it another way, if the big argument within the Republican Party right now is whether or not Paul Broun is electable, as opposed to insane, frightening and incredibly ignorant, then it’s not a big enough argument.

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.


  • c u n d gulag on February 13, 2013 5:59 PM:

    I'm ok with the "Buckley Rule" - in whatever interpretation anyone wants, because it means they're continuing to paint themselves deeper and deeper into a corner.

    Let these sociopaths and Luddites keep moving to the right until they come enough far enought to the edge, AND FALL OFF!

    Hopefully, that happens sooner than later, so that the rest of us can save not only this country, but the world.

  • Peterlorre on February 13, 2013 8:29 PM:

    Yeah, it's mostly a strategy that ensures unforced errors in safe seats, right? The electability of a candidate is basically determined by the strength of their opponents, and so it follows that as the quality of opponents fluctuates you'll constantly be targeting your own candidate for the previous election cycle.

    Isn't it smarter for Republicans in Georgia to nominate a staunch but inoffensive candidate who will just keep winning elections forever? Why insist on picking the craziest firebreather that you can get into office this election, who could easily make Georgia into a contest in six years if the Democrats get some good new talent?

  • schtick on February 13, 2013 8:37 PM:

    Amazing the teapubs run on the premise government isn't working and then get elected to prove it.

  • bluestatedon on February 14, 2013 8:24 AM:

    " Why insist on picking the craziest firebreather that you can get into office this election..."

    Because the core unifying characteristic of virtually all Republican candidates at all levels of government—especially in the South—is their evangelical Dominionist Christianist theology. These loons see themselves as 21st century Crusaders fighting on God's side against all who don't share their willfully ignorant, militantly anti-science view of reality. Their theology is based on a highly-selective reading and literalist interpretation of the Bible, which they claim provides all the necessary direction a modern and highly complex state needs to function. In their world, picking the craziest firebreather means they're doing the work of Jesus; to compromise is an accommodation with Satan. Broun is the perfect representative of this proudly fundamentalist idiocy:

    “All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell,” Broun said. “And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior... You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth,” he said. “I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says.”

  • plim schmuggin on February 14, 2013 4:25 PM:

    Check out this letter to the ABH Editor from former Chairman of Jasper County, GA, GOP