The finger-pointing blame game begins in the GOP

Posted By AzBlueMeanie:

Dead GOP

I have never considered Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and George Voinovich (R-OH) as "moderate" Republicans, but if the conservative Politico blog wants to suggest that they are I will play along for purposes of this report. Republicans feud over Specter:

Faced with a high-profile defection and the prospect of political irrelevance in the Senate, Republicans took off the gloves Wednesday for a ferocious game of finger-pointing.

Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch and George Voinovich blamed the Club for Growth for imposing a right-wing litmus test that chased Arlen Specter out of the Republican Party. The Club for Growth blamed Specter — first for helping to ruin the GOP and then for leaving it. A leading Republican strategist blamed the party for turning its back on moderates. Sen. Lindsey Graham sniped at Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele. Specter’s pollster blamed the stimulus bill. Karl Rove blamed Specter himself.

* * *

Voinovich, a moderate Republican from Ohio who is retiring, said the Republican Party needs to step in more forcefully when the Club for Growth or other organizations try to vilify moderate incumbents in blue states.

“They’re really not interested in Republicans, even ones that are relatively conservative — ‘If you don’t pass my litmus test, then you don’t qualify,’” Voinovich said of groups like the Club.

Asked if the Club for Growth was a problem, Voinovich said, “I think it is. I think it’s a big problem.”

Hatch, the No. 2 man at the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said Toomey can’t win in a general election in Pennsylvania — and that by chasing out Specter, the Club for Growth and its backers may have cost the GOP another seat in the Senate.

“I don’t think it had anything to do with leadership; it had to do with Club for Growth,” the Utah Republican said of Specter’s switch. “I wish they’d spend their money going after Democrats, rather than Republicans. … Let’s just be honest about it: In blue states, we’re not going to get conservative Republicans. It’s just that simple.”

* * *

But Andy Roth, the Club for Growth’s vice president for government affairs, said the Republican Party is at its nadir precisely because it has tolerated the likes of Specter.

“Let’s look at what a big-tent Republican Party gets you,” said Roth. “Over the last eight years, we had Big Government with a party that had no identity. People like Specter destroyed the Republican brand.”

* * *

[V]eteran GOP strategist John Weaver said the party must be concerned about its “political relevance.”

“If [President Barack] Obama and the Democrats control not just the left side of the playing field but also the broad middle, then we are in for generations of irrelevancy,” Weaver said. “Yes, our party principles are important. But we better be more pragmatic in how we advance our cause. There can be a center-right governing party. There cannot be one only from the right.”

Weaver said there’s “plenty of blame to go around,” and that Specter himself should receive his fair share. But he also pointed a finger at Steele, the RNC chairman, who undercut Specter by suggesting, in a recent TV interview, that he could be open to supporting primary challenges to Specter and the other GOP senators who supported Obama’s stimulus plan.

“I would remind Mr. Steele and some of our party leaders: Theirs is a job of winning elections, of increasing party strength, not of forming some sort of party purity police so this grand experiment to shrink the base to its purest form finds us confined to a phone booth,” Weaver said.

* * *

Graham, a Republican senator from South Carolina, said Wednesday that Steele had gone too far.

“It was not a good statement,” Graham said. “I thought Michael was mad and frustrated. The key is to find people who can win. I’m not out just to beat Arlen Specter. I’m out to build the Republican Party. … Michael, you go find somebody who can run in Pennsylvania and can win.”

The Club for Growth exerts an undue amount of influence in the Arizona Republican Party. The purges of alleged "RINOs" in the Arizona Republican Party since moderate Republicans joined forces with the Democrats in the state legislature to form a coalition that neutered the GOP leadership in order to pass state budgets earlier in this decade has been wildly successful in ridding the Arizona Republican Party of its moderate Republicans in GOP primaries. As John Weaver correctly observed, the Club for Growth is the "party purity police" that wants to "shrink the base to its purest [ideological] form. Soon the GOP will be able to caucus in "a phone booth."

GOP Taliban extremists like the Club for Growth are killing the Republican Party. They are marching the GOP towards extinction in the elephant graveyard of failed political parties to lie down beside the Whigs and Know Nothings that preceded them.

The question is,"are there any moderate Republicans left in the Arizona Republican Party who are willing to stand up to the GOP Taliban and to take back the party?" Or has the Arizona Republican Party been reduced to its purest ideological extremist core?

If so, traditional and moderate Republicans who continue to vote out of habit or tradition for the party label "(R)" in elections are not doing yourselves or your fellow Arizonans any favor. This is not your father's GOP. Stop pretending that it is.

0 responses to “The finger-pointing blame game begins in the GOP

  1. The ring of power continues to exert its power to corrupt all sides.

    Many Democrats seem to think that 79 year old Arlen Specter choosing to change his label to Democrat actually means something other than Senator Specter choosing to adopt the label that will maximize his ability to be reelected. Some Republicans apparently agree with those Democrats. Other people who think that being a Republican should actually mean that being a Republican has a certain bare minimum set of ideals and that Specter has does not adhere to those ideals.

    Specter knows which principles he believes in and apparently those of Mr. Specter and those of the Republican voters of Pennsylvania have diverged.

  2. Voinovich is calling himself a moderate is really an indication of how far the party has shifted to the right.

    Voinovich was basically your “normal” Reaganite, tax-focused, pro-business fiscal conservative. No one would ever mistake him for a RINO.

    If George Voinovich fits in the “moderate” column, then so does Ronald Reagan & George H.W. Bush.

  3. David Safier

    It could get interesting in 2010 when a few of the newbie Republicans who ran on a mixed bag of moderation and conservatism have to run again with some votes under their belts. Being “a man with a record,” specifically a record on the budget, could be a problem as people’s belts tighten further and they’re not quite as amused by the positions the new legislators took.