Friday, September 17, 2010

Charles Krauthammer Re-Writes the Buckley Rule

In his latest column in the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer triples down on the idea that it was a "capricious" decision for people like Governor Palin and Senator DeMint to endorse Christine O'Donnell and her victory in Tuesday's primary means that Republicans won't have a chance to take back the Senate in November.

He begins first by contradicting himself (emphasis mine):
Bill Buckley -- no Mike Castle he -- had a rule: Support the most conservative candidate who is electable.


Of course Mike Castle is a liberal Republican. What do you expect from Delaware? A DeMint? Castle voted against Obamacare and the stimulus. Yes, he voted for cap-and-trade. That's batting .667. You'd rather have a Democrat who bats .000 and who might give the Democrats the 50th vote to control the Senate?

Buckley's "rule" is to support to the conservative candidate most likely to win, yet Krauthammer willfully states that Castle isn't even conservative. Castle is an entrenched, establishment liberal Republican. Many seem to emphasize the supposed electability at the expense of political principles. Principles cannot be sacrificed at the expense of theoretical expediency. Surprisingly, Peggy Noonan of all people seems to get it in her recognition of the Tea Party movement that nominated Christine O'Donnell:
So far, the Tea Party is not a wing of the GOP but a critique of it. This was demonstrated in spectacular fashion when GOP operatives dismissed Tea Party-backed Christine O'Donnell in Delaware. The Republican establishment is "the reason we even have the Tea Party movement," shot back columnist and Tea Party enthusiast Andrea Tantaros in the New York Daily News. It was the Bush administration that "ran up deficits" and gave us "open borders" and "Medicare Part D and busted budgets."
Returning to the Krauthammer article, to be fair, he too has a good grasp of the "Tea Party" movement, but he doesn't make the connection between what the Tea Party values and how those values influence their vote:
Indeed, it[the Tea Party Movement] is among the most vigorous and salutary grass-roots movements of our time, dedicated to a genuine constitutionalism from which the country has strayed far.

And its complaint that it is often taken for granted by the Republican establishment (interestingly parallel to the often-heard African American community's complaint against the Democratic Party) is not to be dismissed. Tea Partyers should not, as many of them fear, simply be used by the Republican Party as a source of electoral energy while their own candidates are ignored and dismissed. But the question is: Which of their candidates?
He then goes on to essentially argues that it's fine for voters to nominate "Tea Party" candidates, but only in states like Alaska and Kentucky where they are more likely to win, supposedly, than states like Delaware. Should Tea Partyers in more liberal states then not vote their principles and nominate more moderate candidates instead? Is "Buckley rule" applied differently in these states?

Regarding Governor Palin's understanding of the Buckley rule, let's see her apply this to one of her endorsements in a liberal state, shall we? In the California Republican senate primary, Governor Palin endorsed Carly Fiorina over who many people saw as the more conservative, Tea Party candidate, Chuck DeVore. Interestingly, polling just before the primary in June showed that more California Tea Partyers supported Fiorina than DeVore, but I digress. Fiorina was perceived as more electable than DeVore (and as current polling shows is poised to potentially defeat "Ma'am" Boxer). Governor Palin noted this in her endorsement on Facebook (emphasis mine):
Carly has been endorsed by the National Right to Life, the California Pro-Life Council, and the Susan B. Anthony List. She is pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, pro-military, and pro-strict border security and against amnesty. She is against Obamacare and will vote to repeal it and prevent the government takeover of private companies and industries. Carly is also a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. Like me, she is a member of the NRA, has a 100% NRA rating, and she and her husband are gun owners. She is pro-energy development and believes as I do in an all-of-the-above approach to energy independence. She is against cap and tax. And most importantly, Carly is the only conservative in the race who can beat Barbara Boxer. That’s no RINO. That’s a winner.
Governor Palin understands that if one is to use the Buckley rule, one must embrace both the principles of the candidate and the probability of that candidate's election. As previously mentioned, Fiorina is neck-in-neck with Boxer. O'Donnell, while currently trailing overall, is leading among both Republicans and independents in the most recent poll. For both of these Palin endorsed candidates, their electability and their conservative principles are present.

While Krauthammer has a good grasp of what the Tea Party stands for, he seems to miss the point about how the Tea Party should manifest their principles via their vote. The GOP Establishment was sent a message; it's about conservative principles, not Republican politics.

Related:Mark Levin at his best via the Right Scoop (H/T Stacy):

Crossposted here.

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