Even those of us who haven't seen The Godfather are aware of the classic "Horse Head" scene, where the movie producer who won't give Don Corleone's Sinatraesque godson Johnny Fontane a plum movie role wakes up to find himself snuggling up to the decapitated noggin of his prize racing horse. It's maybe the most famous "threat" scene in movie history and the very term "horse head in my bed" is now code for "do what I say or there'll be hell to pay." Well, if you want to know the political print version of the head of Mr. Ed in your bed (try saying that three times fast!), look at this Weekly Standard piece concerning Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss. The piece is entitled "Saxby's Challengers?" and cuts right to the point with it's implied threat:
Saxby Chambliss, the two-term senior senator from Georgia, could face a Republican primary challenge in 2014.Not exactly mincing words are they? And they quickly continue with why Chambliss is looking at such a challenge:
Activists and donors alike are expressing dissatisfaction with Chambliss for his perceived move to the left of issues like immigration and taxes.Translation: "Deal with the enemy and you will be eliminated, traitor."
But who might take the plunge against Chambliss? This Roll Call article suggests Rep. Tom Price (who may be even more likely to take the plunge after the failure of his attempt to become GOP Conference Chair in the House) and the aforementioned Standard piece also bandies about the names of Reps. Tom Graves and Paul "Evolution is the Devil!" Broun. But then the Standard drops this name (the emphasis is all mine):
But GOP and conservative sources say there's another possible candidate: former secretary of state Karen Handel.That name ring a bell? That would be this Karen Handel. Yes, the former Komen for the Cure senior vice president responsible for the disastrous attempt to cut off Planned Parenthood grants that ended in a fiasco for Komen and Handel being out of a job. But looks like she might have her next job opportunity in mind.
"She's considering it," says Rob Simms, a Republican campaign consultant who worked on Handel's unsuccessful run for governor in 2010. Kay Godwin, the co-chairman of George Conservatives in Action, says Handel is among those she's hearing who could successfully challenge Chambliss.
But whoever does end up challenging Handel, the mere threat of a primary challenge to someone like Chambliss is ludicrous. I'll let Steve Benen explain:
By any sane standard, Chambliss is not a moderate. He's not even close to what anyone in the American mainstream would characterize as "the center." According to the most up-to-date information, Chambliss has a lifetime rating from the American Conservative union of 92.5, putting him well to the right of most of his Republican colleagues. The Georgian's most recent VoteView score puts him at number 80 - with 0 being the most liberal and 100 being the most conservative - to the right of prominent conservative senators like Mitch McConnell, John Thune and Orrin Hatch.Furthermore, this is Saxby Chambliss. You know, the guy who won his Senate seat by depicting triple-amputee war hero Max Cleland as being hand in hand with Osama Bin Laden? This guy is a true a modern day conservative as you can get, right down to the Karl Rove-like "there's no low I won't stoop to to win" attitude.
And yet, here is Chambliss, getting primary death threats from the Standard. Why? What has he done to earn such a fate? Mr. Benen, if you please:
Why would the right be unsatisfied with Chambliss? For one thing, he's worked for over a year with Sen. Mark Warner, a moderate Virginia Democrat, on a debt-reduction plan that includes modest tax increases. For another, Chambliss seems inclined to pass comprehensive immigration reform, or at least something resembling it.Yep. And it's telling that even after the disaster of Indiana, where getting rid of Dick Lugar practically gift-wrapped the seat and handed it over to Democrat Joe Donnelly, the conservative base is still hellbent on purging anyone who even thinks of cooperating across the aisle. Chambliss is being faced with the same threat as former senators like Bob Bennett, Arlen Specter and the soon-to-be-gone Lugar and current senators like John McCain, Orrin Hatch and Lisa Murkowski received: "Make even one nice gesture to the other side and you're dead meat."
That, apparently, buys him a one-way ticket to Primary Town, his overall voting record notwithstanding.
As one last thought from Benen makes my opening remarks even clearer:
Pieces like this one from The Weekly Standard are the practical equivalent of a horse head in Chambliss's bed - if you know what's good for you, don't even consider working in good faith with colleagues who think differently than you do.Now you may understand why Lindsey Graham is going so crazy on Benghazi. He doesn't want the horse head treatment either. And what do you know, it might be working.
Amazing what happens when you give that Fontane punk his movie role.
Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 7:16 AM PT: Wow, second straight diary on the Rec list. I must be doing something right. Thanks, folks. And Happy Thanksgiving!
Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 12:01 PM PT: Thanks to JBraden for pointing this out; apparently Chambliss is openly breaking with Grover Norquist and refusing to support the little troll's no tax pledge. Sound's like someone needs more horse heads!