IT'S JUST A (SMALL) JUMP TO THE LEFT...
Following up on my last post: yes, obviously I agree to a great extent with Frank Rich, whose column today on the NY-23 congressional race describes the modern GOP as a "cult" in which moderates are pitilessly purged. But I don't really agree with this:
The right's embrace of [litmus-test wingnut Doug] Hoffman is a double-barreled suicide for the G.O.P.... It's still conceivable that the Democratic candidate could capture a seat the Republicans should own. But it's even better for Democrats if Hoffman wins. Punch-drunk with this triumph, the right will redouble its support of primary challengers to 2010 G.O.P. candidates they regard as impure....
The more rightists who win G.O.P. primaries, the greater the Democrats' prospects next year.
I lumped a lot of people together in my last post -- Michelle Malkin, Fox News -- but I think there are different strategies at work here. Malkin and some others (e.g., the Club for Growth) are going to stay pure in their wingnuttery long past 2010. But I think Fox and some others are going to pivot slightly to ther left after 2010. That's because 2010 and 2012 are going to be very different.
Next year, it's all about having one motivated voting bloc in what will otherwise be a low-turnout off-year election cycle. Tea-partyism is a way to ensure that that bloc is angry old white people. If encouraging purism means that the broadly popular Charlie Crist loses the Florida GOP primary to wingnut favorite Marco Rubio and then Rubio loses to a Democrat, well, so be it -- I think the calculation at Fox high command and other shrewd outposts of the right is that that's a sacrifice well worth making to drive up angry-old-white-people turnout in House races across the country. As in NY-23 -- which, as I noted in the last post, is a GOP district that voted for Obama -- if you get enough angry old white people riled up, wingnuts can probably win even in center-right House districts.
After 2010, I expect the focus to be on striking a balance between stoking anger and winning in a high-turnout cycle. And that, I think, is going to mean subtly steering the wingnut base away from the suicide leap of Palinism without making the shift so obvious that they'll feel deprived of their minimum daily requirement of rage. So the focus will be on viable candidates who sort of talk the pitchfork talk but don't completely alienate moderates -- candidates who are more like New Wave than pure punk, as it were. (Pawlenty? Romney?)
Malkin probably won't be with the program. Limbaugh might not be. But Fox will. While I don't think Glenn Beck would ever completely abandon his looney-right notions, I can easily imagine he'll move that inch to the left, on the assumption that his paycheck is on the line. He can still say all the crazy things he wants about Obama and the Democrats -- he just won't be pushing for the hardest-right candidate imaginable.
I could be wrong about this -- and I could be right, but possibly the looneys will defeat Fox and the other slicksters in the battle for hearts and minds on the right. But I'm sticking by this prediction.