Republicans Try to Put Lid on the Loony


Politico has an article about the Republican party trying to find a way to prevent more candidates like Todd Akin from winning Senate primaries, which they rightly recognize has prevented them from taking control of that chamber in the last two elections.

In the wake of the GOP’s Election Day beatdown, influential Republican senators say enough’s enough: Party leaders need to put the kibosh on the kind of savage primaries that yielded candidates like Akin — and crippled Republican prospects of taking the Senate in two straight election cycles.

It’s time, they say, for Washington bosses to be more assertive about recruiting and then defending promising candidates. They argue that it’s critical to start enlisting local conservative activists as allies and to ease the tea party versus Washington dynamic that’s wreaked havoc on the party.

All easier said than done, of course. Tea party types have relished showing the chosen candidates of the Washington establishment a thing or two — and it’s hard to see them laying down arms overnight. But after a sure-bet election in 2012 turned into an electoral disaster, Republicans say resolving their primary problem is, well, their primary problem.

The Republicans might well have won control of the Senate in 2010 if they hadn’t run such whacko candidates in key races. Harry Reid was likely to lose in Nevada to a sane Republican candidate. Even after winning the Republican primary, Sharron Angle had an 11-point lead over him. But she turned out to be downright bugnutty, suggesting, for example, that the town of Frankford, Texas had been taken over by Sharia law. The problem? There was no such town, it had been annexed by Dallas in the 70s. And Dallas sure as hell isn’t ruled by Sharia law.

In Delaware, the Republicans were a huge favorite to win a Senate seat from that state, with Rep. Mike Gravel, a moderate, widely expected to win the seat. But Christine O’Donnell won and turned out to be so loopy that even other Republicans distanced themselves from her.

The same thing happened in Colorado, where Republican Ken Buck lost a close election to Michael Bennet after a campaign in which he came out against abortion even in cases of rape and incest. It was also revealed that he refused to prosecute a rape case in which the transcripts showed the suspect admitting to having raped the victim. And he famously said that the people of Colorado should vote for him because, unlike his female opponent, he didn’t wear high heels.

The same thing happened this year, with Akin and Richard Mourdock losing seats that a saner Republican candidate would almost certainly have won in Missouri and Indiana respectively. This is part of the ongoing battle within the Republican party as they try to wiggle their way out of the dilemma of trying to hold on to the far right Tea Party types without losing everyone but them.

Comments

  1. says

    One thing my brother was talking about last night. If someone asks him what’s wrong with the Tea Party, he’s going to tell them to go clean house and get back to him. There’s no point in getting into the more nuanced arguments while they’re unable to control Team Rape, the birthers, and so on.

  2. says

    The best thing they can do is tell ‘em to stay off right wing talk radio and Faux News, where they feel way too comfortable and blurt out all the batshit crazy.

  3. naturalcynic says

    I think that you should always use the comparative saner because there don’t seem to be any sane Republicans. In fact, identification as a sane Republican appears to be oxymoronic. Shouldn’t anyone in compos mentis have fled that party by this time?

  4. says

    If the party were to support moderate candidates, they will lose the Talibangelicals and Tea Partyists. If they support the folks that the base wants, they will continue to lose the moderates. It’s a no-win situation: in either case, the GOP is fractured and a large number of Republicans end up not voting in protest. And honestly, I’m perfectly fine with that.

    Assuming, of course, that something can be done to elect progressive Democrats rather than neo-con DINOs.

  5. arakasi says

    In this case, “sane” appears to be a euphemism for “knows when to keep his/her mouth shut”. As far as I can tell, there isn’t a bit of difference between Akin & Mourdock’s position on abortion and Ryan’s, yet Ryan is still considered the GOP’s fair-haired boy. The difference, of course, is that Ryan didn’t say anything when the cameras wre rolling

  6. marcus says

    “The same thing happened in Colorado…”
    As a resident of Colorado I got to see it and participate first hand. It was a close run thing at that, with Bennett winning by a margin of only .1 percent. There is no doubt in my mind that a more mainstream Republican would have taken that seat. It is a strong possibility that Mckinnis would have beaten Hickenlooper in the Governors race as well. Thank dog, although I don’t think we can always count on having idiots of this extreme to run against.

  7. Nemo says

    Mike Castle was Christine O’Donnell’s Republican rival in the 2010 Delaware U.S. Senate primary. Mike Gravel is a former Democratic Senator from Alaska who ran for president in 2008.

  8. busterggi says

    They can’t suppress their loonies – that’s what their base is built on. Shoulda thought of that back in the ’80’s.

  9. says

    What’s wrong with a candidate who declares that she is not a witch? Aren’t voters entitled to know whether or not they are voting for a witch?
    Every congressional candidate should sign a statement declaring their associations with witchcraft. … But actual witches probably would deny it, so we’ll just have to bind all the candidates and throw them in a lake or river to scientifically determine who’s telling the truth.

  10. unbound says

    I agree with busterggi…I think the Republicans made their deal with the devil (ironically the fundie christians) way back in late 70s as Reagan pushed the party into that path. It will be difficult for the party to survive without the extremist vote. Unfortunately for the rethuglicans, the fundies are slowly dying out.

    Deep down, they know they can’t go mainstream since the current crop of democrats are actually very moderate to slightly conservative, so it is difficult to show a different brand. And since nuanced argument doesn’t work with the masses, I’m not sure they really have much choice but to go completely down the rabbit hole.

  11. wscott says

    And [Buck] famously said that the people of Colorado should vote for him because, unlike his female opponent, he didn’t wear high heels.

    Just to be clear, that was in reference to Jane Norton, his opponent in the primary, not Michael Bennett.

    Maybe it’s because I live here, but it seems to me more and more that Colorado politics are mirroring the nation as a whole. Particularly with all the fundie groups headquartered in Colorado Springs, it’s harder and harder for sane GOP candidates to make it past the primary; and the lunatics they do nominate wind up alienating the rest of the state and handing the election to dems

  12. wscott says

    To be fair to Buck, he did tell the Birthers to take a hike and stop embarassing him with their stupid questions. So points for that.

  13. scienceavenger says

    The only hope the GOP has is the tried and true strategy of small incremental change, one issue at a time. Start with abortion and rape, and work their way to the less obvious issues.

  14. says

    Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock lost because they opened their mouths. The next time, they can field exactly such candidates, only refuse to debate, and they’ll win.

    That is the easiest way for the GOP to regain control of the Senate. Trying to get a sane candidate past the primaries will cost too much.

    Look at what happened to Romney. No matter what one thinks of him, he was not a loon like Santorum, Cain, Minnesota Palin, or Perry.

    There is this perception that the GOP sees folly and wants to correct it.

    It is wrong.

    They simple want to regain control of government.

    After all, this guy got elected after asking his (two) mistresses to have abortions, and later revealing that his wife had two herself.

  15. TGAP Dad says

    I suspect they’ll just resort to speaking in coded terms, or not addressing the hot-button issues at all. IMO, the reason Akin and Mourdoch weren’t elected wasn’t because they were nuts; it was because they openly spewed their nuttiness. Can we really say that Akin is any nuttier than Rand Paul? Or Tom Coburn or James Inhofe? Or Louis Gomert, Jean Schmidt, and Michelle Bchmann? The difference is that the others kept their mouths shut, knowingly winking to the nutty base without spilling it publicly. It’s a time-honored political tradition!

  16. JasonTD says

    Gregory in Seattle @6 wrote:

    Assuming, of course, that something can be done to elect progressive Democrats rather than neo-con DINOs.

    unbound @12 wrote:

    Deep down, they know they can’t go mainstream since the current crop of democrats are actually very moderate to slightly conservative, so it is difficult to show a different brand.

    I see this a lot. The idea that Democrats in office are actually moderate/centrist. But that seems to be true only by comparison to what those like unbound and Gregory would want, not the way things actually are, if you take this measure of left vs. right at face value:

    http://xkcd.com/1127/

    What I found interesting was that the Democratic Party was much more centrist during the New Deal than it is now. That the Republicans in Congress have gotten far more right in recent years by this measure matches reality and is thus, unsurprising.

  17. Michael Heath says

    Ed writes:

    This is part of the ongoing battle within the Republican party as they try to wiggle their way out of the dilemma of trying to hold on to the far right Tea Party types without losing everyone but them.

    This simply won’t work for one reason and one reason alone: The rise of wingnuttery within the GOP voting base and their leaders is merely the most vivid set of illustrations of the type of thinking that now dominates nearly all of American conservatism. It’s a symptom where the entire GOP is not only infected, but also demonstrably oblivious.

    For example, while it’s provocative watching Michele Bachman insinuate that human papillomavirus vaccine causes mental retardation simply because a mother told her that, it’s the very same type of thinking that results in nearly every single Republican in Congress denying the level of consensus, observed harm, and threat of anthropogenic global warming as expressed by climate scientists. Or the very same thinking that has respected Republican leaders claiming we can’t afford to increase effective tax rates, “we’re broke or on the verge”, and therefore we must cut spending, even if such spending cuts will suppress future growth and reduce the debt load relative to the size of the future economy – which they avoid even considering.

    This is why I left the GOP in 2008. They can’t reform, precisely because they are incapable of reforming until the party members are replaced with people who can actually think critically and willing to acknowledge and use the factual premises the rest of us know when they develop policy positions .

    Their wingnuts are not outliers when it comes to how Republicans think; instead they’re merely more entertaining examples of the type of thinking that infects the entire party. Hardly any of them can think critically when certain topics are being considered, which includes politics and related matters like scientific or economic findings which cause sane people to advocate for public policy changes to address those findings. It’s not like they purposefully avoid topics like climate science or economics; they are physically incapable of even considering and then holding on to what experts in these fields actually understand if it threatens their current set of policy positions. Contemporaneous U.S. Conservatives may consider and concede certain convincing inconvenient facts, but after a period of time they’ll go back to rejecting those facts in order to maintain positions held prior to be ing exposed to the falsification of their key premises.

    Chris Mooney’s latest book is probably a good start if you haven’t reviewed the research done on this topic over the past ten years. The Republicans need a diversity of thinking in the party that dilutes the inability of conservative Christians who can’t think straight on public policy related topics. But the rejection of critical thinking is now a core part of being a loyal conservative/Republican – with hardly any examples of apostates within the GOP leadership evident (Perhaps MI’s gov. Rick Snyder). Simply no one whose personality allows them to be open to experience is allowed in as a leader with increasingly rare exceptions.

  18. Michael Heath says

    Gregory in Seattle:

    It’s a no-win situation: in either case, the GOP is fractured and a large number of Republicans end up not voting in protest. And honestly, I’m perfectly fine with that.

    Here’s an example of that. I know someone in meat-world who loves to talk politics with me. He’s not religious but is conservative, similar to how Barry Goldwater thought. He’s swamped with viral emails lying about the president, Democrats, and reality in general. The only counter to all that propaganda is me and when he occasionally checks out stuff on the factcheck sites (we both live in areas which are nearly red state areas, Democrats rarely even run for elective office). So I get a lot of sanity checks requests from him.

    This friend is very smart and loves his country, but for four+ years now he’s been overwhelmed with emails attacking the president that sound convincing if you’re not well educated in science, economics and such and not a high information voter. He voted for Barack Obama in 2008, the first time he ever voted for a non-Republican since he started voting for president in 1980. But since then the lack of progress on the economy and the waves of emails blaming it all on the Democrats, in spite of Republican obstructionism in the Congress, was difficult to overcome. This election year he voted but not for president. He too couldn’t handle Romney’s total lack of integrity while not being able to pull the lever for Obama because he blames him for the state of the economy, in spite of recognizing Republican culpability prior to 2009.

  19. Michael Heath says

    shripathikamath writes:

    No matter what one thinks of him, he was not a loon like Santorum, Cain, Minnesota Palin, or Perry.

    I strongly disagree. Mr. Romney demonstrates all the traits of authoritarianism on display with the afore-mentioned people. What distinguishes him from them is he’s also a classic example of both a social dominator and a ‘double high’, social dominator and authoritarian.

    The combination of these two traits allows Mr. Romney the capability of not being as stupid as the set you present here, but Mr. Romney also comes to conclusions which has him rejecting, even avoiding, inconvenient facts which lead to fatally defective conclusions; e.g., the polling data on the presidential election, the scientific consensus on climate change, the scientific consensus on climate sensitivity, the scientific consensus on the threat climate change presents, and the vast difference between business principles and economic principles to name a few of many.

    After all, this man wears magic underwear. And just because the media cowardly failed to dig in to his association with Mormonism, doesn’t mean all the wingnuttery he practiced within his religion and because of his beliefs doesn’t exist. The stories just weren’t pervasively reported.

  20. ursamajor says

    Thirty some odd years ago I invented a little test which nearly all Republicans have failed.

    On the initial version of the test I used actual policy proposals but eventually found it doesn’t matter exactly who the test is set up.

    Test: Assume that currently Program A costs $10 billion per year. But there is the alternative of program B which could accomplish the goals of program A for only $5 billion per year. Would you be in favor of setting up program B?

    In 35 years I have only met 1 (one, ein, uno, 1.00) Republican who was in favor of saving money.

  21. raven says

    I doubt that the GOP will be able to control their loons and wingnuts. They are too far down the rabbit hole. They had their civil war long ago and the moderates lost big time.

    If anything it is getting worse. Their big cause right now is seceding from the USA. Openly hating the USA and wanting to destroy it isn’t going to look good to a lot of people.

    Don’t forget, what they are doing is working. They control 30 governorships, the House, and this election was pretty close.

  22. laurentweppe says

    The Republicans might well have won control of the Senate in 2010 if they hadn’t run such whacko candidates in key races

    Except that the process which gave them the wacko candidates is also the process which mobilized the conservative voting block at a much higher rate than the left wing’s. Put a lid to the wacko candidates, and you also put a lid on the outrage which allowed the GOP to win the House in 2010 and gerrymander themselves into a safe permanent house majority.

  23. Michael Heath says

    ursamajor,

    Extremely provocative assertion. Could you elaborate by parsing out the major reasons all but one Republican said no?

  24. greg1466 says

    Seems like a reasonable plan, but I see a most likely fatal flaw. A rather large portion of the GOP base that does the actual voting is just as delusional as the bat shit crazies the party leadership wants to stop electing.

  25. anubisprime says

    The only time to really worry about the extremely dim with loopy opinions is when they are in power.
    Seems the American public pulled back from the very edge this time around…just!
    Possibly because they were not that keen on such blatant circle jerking idiocy.

    In a way it is without doubt that the loony brigade tend to frighten off the more discerning in the voting public.
    But at the same time these vermin are trading on a nasty and ignorant side to right-wing fans, and there do appear to be a lot of them.

    One can generalize as to the point that any such followers tend to the lower IQ holders in society, to appreciate and believe such codswollop they would have to be!

    That they have followers is rather symptomatic of a cult fundamentalism without a clue, maybe it is an identity thing, only why they want to be identified with barking cretins is still in the realms of guesswork.

    There would seem to be a status quo with regards to election results, but if 49 or so % in the country voted for Rethuglian standards despite the likes of Akin or Mourdock then that status quo is fast losing a stable footing.
    A few more disaffected and screwed over by the global recession it might have been a different ball game here.

    So it is not really clear if ditching such cretins would improve their chances significantly.
    Certainly locally but nationally it seems not an issue.

    This uneasiness with the knuckle draggers is more a casting around looking for excuses and scapegoats, it is also an interesting Freudian slip in a way because that is a tacit acknowledgement that some in their party hold views of the world which are twisted enough to even make some fairly right leaning moderates wince in embarrassment.

    Come the next election it will be interesting to see if they learnt any lessons this time around…I suspect not!
    The Tea party are with the jeebus creepers, and the jeebus creepers want a theocracy and no less.
    The Tea party are so insane they think that is what they want too!
    And in a theocracy anything batshit insane is par for the course, as long as a ‘praise jeebus’ is tacked on the end of the sentence.

    It is tempting to say let them keep their rabid rats and that might keep folks rather more focused and wary and that is a distinct advantage to the Democrats but it seems far from certain that is all it will require!

  26. ursamajor says

    @ #26 Michael Heath:

    The reason the Republicans gave for turning down plan B was always the same
    “but your spending money, spending bad.”

    I suspect that if given the question
    what is the answer to 10-15 = x they would mostly answer x= -5
    but stick a $ in the equation an in Republican math it becomes $10- $15 = $20. Or so it seems since that has been the economic platform of every Republican since Reagan.

  27. bybelknap says

    I live in Northeastern Pennsylvania, also known as Pennsyltucky. I am surrounded by people who voted for Romney, and who buy the BS about Obama being a socialist. When I bother to point out to them that Obama’s policy positions are in the same ballpark as Richard Nixon’s, and Teddy Roosevelt’s rather than Eugene McCarthy’s, or even Bubba Clinton’s, they get a sort of puzzled look – if they are old enough to remember Tricky Dick – and shake their heads and say “No Way!”
    I have to say, “Yes way!” Nixon was way ahead of Obama on environmental issues, and despite being a despicable criminal who undermined the political process with dirty tricks, was positively progressive policy-wise compared to today’s pols.

    Anyway, these people are my friends, colleagues, neighbors, and generally most of them are pretty decent, hard working, nice people who are fun to hang out with. The fact that they are under-informed, ill-informed and generally bereft of any sort of understanding of the terms, “socialist,” “communist,” “liberal,” or “conservative” is distressing. It is even more distressing to hear them complain about things like universal health care. I want to grab them by the shoulders and shake them and ask “WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH EVERYONE HAVING HEALTH INSURANCE!!??” I mean really, can someone please explain to me why a healthy population is a bad thing? Nobody can.

    Anyway, I get steamed when people I like are called foul things simply because they have tribal instincts that have been molded into the wrong shape. I get steamed when people from other tribes call my tribe foul things too. I wish I had an answer to cure tribalism. That’s what we really need, I think; a cure for tribalism.

  28. slc1 says

    Re MH @ #23

    Actually, it would probably be more accurate to describe Rmoney as a sociopath.

    Re bybelknap @ #31

    Interestingly enough, I drove up to Lancaster from Northern Virginia via 222/272 on election day and saw almost no yard signs for either candidate. I think I saw 1 yard sign for Obama and maybe a half dozen for Rmoney. This is to be contrasted with previous visits in election years when I have seen dozens of such signs, mostly, of course, for the Rethuglican candidate. This indicates to me a decided lack of interest in either candidate in central Pennsylvania this year, bad news for Rmoney since that area is heavily Rethuglican.

  29. F says

    influential Republican senators say enough’s enough: Party leaders need to put the kibosh on the kind of savage primaries that yielded candidates like Akin — and crippled Republican prospects of taking the Senate in two straight election cycles.

    Your reasons suck, influential Republican senators. You suck. Sucksucksucksucksucksucksucksucksuck.

  30. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Shouldn’t anyone in compos mentis have fled that party by this time?

    They’re ALL in compost mentis!

  31. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    So, basically, they’ve decided to stop moaning “BRRRAAAAAIIIIINNNNNSSSSS!” But not to stop eating them.

  32. Dunc says

    I see this a lot. The idea that Democrats in office are actually moderate/centrist. But that seems to be true only by comparison to what those like unbound and Gregory would want, not the way things actually are, if you take this measure of left vs. right at face value:

    http://xkcd.com/1127/

    I don’t take that measure of left vs right at face value, as it’s defined entirely by voting cohesion in Congress. It is a relative assessment (relative to the rest of Congress). If, instead, you use the terms as they are generally used in the rest of the world, the Democrats are (at best) centre-right. There is no “left” in the US (as the term is generally understood in the rest of the world), much less a “far left”. (Well, ignoring the Communists and the Greens, who don’t feature because they never get elected.)

    From the perspective of the rest of the world, you have a right-wing party, a far-right party, and the Tea Party. The Democratic Party is arguably somewhat to the right of the most right-wing mainstream party here in the UK. And we’re one of the more right-wing countries in Europe… To find anything comparable to the Republicans, you have to start look at the political margins where extremism starts shading into outright fascism.

  33. JasonTD says

    There is no “left” in the US (as the term is generally understood in the rest of the world), much less a “far left”. (Well, ignoring the Communists and the Greens, who don’t feature because they never get elected.)

    There’s a grand total of one Congressperson that self-describes as ‘socialist’, I believe, (Senator Bernie Sanders). If we also take your claims about Democrats as being generally center-right in the world spectrum as being accurate, then what that says is that American voters are mostly center-right to right. All politics is local, as they say, so it is where Democrats and Republicans fit relative to the voting population of America that matters, not how they compare to the rest of the western democracies.

    I acknowledge that there are limitations in that measure I linked, but I maintain that there are still some useful things to learn from it. At a minimum, it shows some interesting things to talk about.

  34. laurentweppe says

    There “no left” in the US insofar as the majority of the american public are closeted social-democrats: favoring policies advocated and often conceptualized by left-wing people by european standards, but never daring to self identify with the dreaded “S” word.

Leave a Reply