Wednesday, May 19, 2010


My favorite Specter reaction, from of all places:

Heh -- indeed.

Meanwhile, Marc Ambinder tries to figure out the meaning of Rand Paul's victory and, well, basically fails:

We still haven't figured out how to distinguish between Tea Partiers and base conservatives. Here's the way I propose it: Tea Partiers are best identified by their media consumption habits (Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity) and whether they adopt a specific variant of conservative populism, one that is rooted in an originalist interpretation of the Constitution, a pastoral view of the past, and a sense that the world is escaping the boundaries of their comprehension. The rest are just plain, average conservatives.

Wait a minute -- "plain, average conservatives" don't watch Hannity and think America was a nation of self-reliant yeoman farmers until the dark day we elected a communist Kenyan? I'm confused. I'm really struggling to grasp this distinction.

David Frum, meanwhile, is fretful:

Rand Paul's victory in the Kentucky Republican primary is obviously a depressing event for those who support ... rational conservative politics....

How is it that the GOP has lost its antibodies against a candidate like Rand Paul? ... despite Paul's self-presentation as "anti-establishment," the D.C. conservative establishment by and large made its peace with him. It is this acquiescence -- even more than Paul's own nomination -- that is the most ominous news from tonight's vote.

Well, "antibodies" is, I think, the wrong metaphor. Look, if you want rational conservative voters (whatever that means), you're baiting your traps wrong. All your side has done for years is wave red meat around -- and then you're surprised when, instead of mice, you get bears showing up. In Kentucky, you just got the candidate who matches the last couple of decades of your own rhetoric.

On the other hand, it's possible that Rand Paul will go to Washington and the Permanent Government will decide that, well, he's not that bad. Here's The Washington Post's Charles Lane:

Which candidate for federal office made this forthright and progressive declaration of policy in a recent debate?

"I do not think federal subsidies of agriculture are a good idea. These go to things that are not economic, such as ethanol subsidies and large corporate farming, and I'm not in favor of giving welfare to business."

Hint: the same candidate also espoused raising the retirement age under Social Security to 70....

Let me be clear. I am not endorsing Paul. Far from it. His right-wing obsessions with the Federal Reserve, the Department of Education and the like turn me off, big time....

Still, it's depressing that Paul's the only guy who's willing to talk straight about these two obvious problems....

Hell, even I agree on the farm subsidies up to a point. But here's what I fear: a year from now, Rand Paul could be a senator and David Broder could find Senator's Paul's deficit hawkery absolutely delightful and praiseworthy. And life will go on as usual.

On the other hand, JohnHarris and Jim VandeHei at Politico look at last night's elections (as well as the Bob Bennett purge in Utah and other recent events) and conclude that we're looking at a sea change in American politics, one that goes back at least as far as the Obama and Ned Lamont campaigns -- and one that might make governing even harder than it is now:

Challengers don't need help of the Republican National Committee or Democratic National Committee to shake loose small donations anymore. They can simply use the web or email lists of hungry activists. They don't need the RNC or DNC for get-out-the-vote help either. They have and the Tea Party network.

They also don't need a visit from Barack Obama or Dick Cheney to whip up attention from party activists. They have Rachel Maddow on MSNBC or Glenn Beck on Fox -- a much more efficient way of reaching committed activists.

But the cumulative results of the primaries will likely make a hard-to-govern capital even more treacherous. Politicians now on-notice about the power of activists on their flanks will be less inclined to find compromises in the center, and they barely did even before Tuesday.

That's true. Rand Paul is pledging to "take back the government," as are all the other teabaggers (and most other Republicans). Democrats like Joe Sestak and Bill Halter in Arkansas are running up impressive vote totals out of disgust with the Democrats we've got. And now a whole bunch of angry voters' favorites may go to Washington and ... fight with one another! I'm going to take back the government for the people who elected me! The hell you will! I'm going to take back the government for the people who elected me!

The likely result? Even more gridlock. And then an even angrier electorate.

As Rosham says in the comments to my last post:

So we overthrow Sestak in the next elections or just punk him in this one?

Yeah, that's about it. Dump everybody! Forever!

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