Sen. Thad Cochran may well lose his renomination in Mississippi, but the batting average for "establishment" Republicans this year will still be over .900. And yet, there are serious and real reverberations here. For one thing, politicians are more moved by vivid example than overall statistics. All it took was one Bob Bennett in Utah to move Senate Republicans significantly to the right in attitude, agenda, and rhetoric. The assault on Cantor as a supporter of amnesty may not have been the main reason for his defeat, but we can be sure that the word "legalization" will not cross the lips of Republicans of many stripes in the months to come, except as an epithet.Sean Trende (my bold):
The main lesson here may be the populist one. The tea-party movement is not a Republican movement, or a conservative movement. It is radical, anti-institutional, anti-leadership, antigovernment. It is driven by suspicion of the motives and actions of all leaders, including those in the Republican Party. Cantor's glaringly obvious personal ambition fed those suspicions, but his defeat was a defeat for the broader establishment, which compromises too readily and feeds its own interests first. That attitude, by the way, also is embodied in many of the big donors to candidates and outside groups, meaning it represents an ongoing serious headache for party leaders.
First, analysts need to understand that the Republican base is furious with the Republican establishment, especially over the Bush years. From the point of view of conservatives I’ve spoken with, the early- to mid-2000s look like this: Voters gave Republicans control of Congress and the presidency for the longest stretch since the 1920s.Man, between us and them, that's a lot of folks who hate the Bush years. Got that, Jeb?
And what do Republicans have to show for it? Temporary tax cuts, No Child Left Behind, the Medicare prescription drug benefit, a new Cabinet department, increased federal spending, TARP, and repeated attempts at immigration reform. Basically, despite a historic opportunity to shrink government, almost everything that the GOP establishment achieved during that time moved the needle leftward on domestic policy. Probably the only unambiguous win for conservatives were the Roberts and Alito appointments to the Supreme Court; the former is viewed with suspicion today while the latter only came about after the base revolted against Harriet Miers.
The icing on the cake for conservatives is that these moves were justified through an argument that they were necessary to continue to win elections and take issues off the table for Democrats. Instead, Bush’s presidency was followed in 2008 by the most liberal Democratic presidency since Lyndon Johnson, accompanied by sizable Democratic House and Senate majorities.
You don’t have to sympathize with this view, but if you don’t understand it, you will never understand the Tea Party. Watch Dave Brat’s interview on Fox News here. He is not Tom Tancredo; immigration reform is not his main focus. He’s hitting a lot of the themes that I discuss above, which in many ways echo the Democratic Netroots’ discontent with “Wall Street Democrats” in the mid-2000s (a discontent that led, in part, to Obama’s victory in the 2008 primaries, to the discomfort of some in the Democratic Leadership Council).
Two years ago, when I first began researching the Tea Party, I interviewed a Tea Party leader from the outskirts of Richmond. This leader leaned across the table and told me:More politics and policy below the fold.
“When you pinpoint that the Republican Party is just as corrupt as any other political party, it’s blinding… I think politically, if a conservative resurgence is to take hold in this country, it will only come after a very bloody fight with the Republican Party. I advocated that we put independents into this election to knock out these Republican RINOS—if we put Democrats in I’m ok with that—I mean, Eric Cantor and Rob Whitman—they’re Republicans in name only. It’s called window dressing. The hierarchical nature of how party politics work—you be a good boy or girl and you move up.”This Tea Party leader was not alone in these sentiments. As seen in the figure below, the third most common topic of posts on Virginia Tea Party blogs is distrust of the Republican Party (which includes posts on holding Republicans accountable and ousting Republicans). After several years of battle with the Republican Party, including a Tea Party upset at last year’s Virginia Republican Nominating Convention (where Ken Cuccinelli and E.W. Jackson defeated mainstream Republican candidates), Virginia Tea Party activists have defeated the “RINO” Eric Cantor, the sitting House Majority Leader.
And from our own David Jarman, this gem on Cantor's fall:
"Hubris" may be the key word here. The climb through the ranks through treachery and intimidation, and then the sudden realization when you're at the top that you've burned through all your allies, is almost allegorical. It's a pattern we've seen many times before, whether it's from the Greek playwrights or Shakespeare, or in the collapse of some of history's nastiest regimes: When the leader who appeared to rule effortlessly suddenly falls with a lot of knives in his back, few people are saddened, while many people are surprised at just how thin and flimsy his support actually was, and how he was just staying in power propped up by a combination of fear and entropy.Greg Sargent:
“Ted Cruz is a total nihilist, shutting down the government. That and Rand Paul’s isolationism appeal to the lowest common denominator, which would make us a permanent minority in terms of presidential races.”Matthew Dickinson:
That’s GOP Rep. Pete King of New York, in a phone interview with me today, commenting on Tea Partyer David Brat’s surprise primary win over Eric Cantor. King says his worry is that Brat’s victory will enable “the Ted Cruz and Rand Paul wing to take over the party,” which “could make us a stronger party in many Congressional districts but it will prevent us from being a national party.”
No, That’s Not Why Cantor Lost, and That’s Not What It SignifiesDo note this, though about the "it was/wan't immigration" argument: Dave Weigel:
I hesitate to say much more about the composition of yesterday’s electorate without more data, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Cantor lost primarily because many voters viewed him as too concerned with leadership issues and thus out of touch with local district concerns. That’s not very earthshattering, and it is disappointing to those seeking some deeper meaning in Cantor’s defeat. But sometimes the simplest explanations are the best. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, and until more data comes in, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
In my much-amended look at how the media (myself included) largely ignored Eric Cantor's mounting disaster, I scoffed at how newly minted GOP nominee David Brat was portrayed as a "mystery" man. Whose fault was that? Ours, the media's. Sure, I'd talked to Brat once, but I hardly gave him the once-over that a surging challenger should get. Nobody really did.Molly Crabapple with a powerful essay about the fogotten/invisible US dissenter:
In the 24 hours since he won, Brat has been slotted into two basic narratives. The first came immediately from Bill Kristol, in The Weekly Standard. (A quick search suggests that the magazine had not previously written about Brat, but I already made a search-engine mistake today.) Brat was a populist. “GOP voters go for Main Street and Middle America and against crony capitalism,” wrote Kristol in two pieces. “Brat used his critique of ‘amnesty’ to launch a broad assault on GOP elites who put the interests of American corporations over American workers, of D.C. lobbyists over American families.”
Go ahead, scoff at Bill Kristol carrying the gilded pitchfork of populism, but he’d been on this tear for a while, and he was joined by – of all sources – The Nation. According to Lee Fang (in a story posted first at Republic Report), Brat had won by “calling out GOP corruption,” by attacking the GOP for not jailing Wall Street crooks after they wrecked America.
Empires love their dissidents foreign.WaPo:
Any regime, no matter how repressive, will gladly fête its enemy’s critics—while homegrown versions of those critics occupy concrete cells. Cooing over foreign dissidents allows establishment hacks to pose like sexy rebels—while simultaneously affirming that their own system is the best.
The dissident fetishist takes a brave, principled person, and uses them like a codpiece of competitive virtue.
The Kremlin loves (American) whistle-blowers. The State Department loves (Russian) anarchist punks.
Mainstream media cherishes these dissidents because they allow journalists the by-proxy thrill of challenging power. They, too, can stand square-shouldered against Putin or Obama, capes billowing behind them in the wind.
These same media figures aren’t always so lippy on their home turf.
The northern Iraqi city of Mosul is burning, as insurgents from an offshoot of al-Qaeda take control while Iraqi security forces leave behind their military uniforms and flee the region. It’s an ugly situation, and it’s unlikely to turn around soon, said a former senior U.S. military commander in Iraq. Here’s why: