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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A. Specter is Haunting Yer GOP

Musings on Stupor Tuesday:

1) Rand Paul has gotten all the attention in KY, but he would have finished third, behind BOTH major Dem candidates, in a straight up vote tally. Sure, more in KY are registered Dems even as the state leans strongly GOP in national races. But those folks didn't have to turn out. And when you vote for a guy once (in a primary), you're inclined to do so again (in a general). Everyone assumes this seat is going to stay GOP, but the Dems are definitely in this thing, especially when they've got a good candidate and the GOP has a borderline psychopath. With his parentage (and name) "Rand" Paul ain't just a cafeteria libertarian, he actually believes all that crazy ass shit. Gold standard. Abolish the Fed. Privatize social security. Deregulate Wall Street. That douche bag can be beat, as in drummed, if the Dems play this smart. Is he on the record over birtherism? Does he endorse Ayn Rand's view of American workers as "parasites"? Was his father right to call MLK a communist? Tell us. Counter-theory: it is Kentucky.

2) Fineman has been going off on MSNBC about how this shows Obama's inability to swing a key race. I'm not so sure. Obama had to back Specter as a condition of keeping his Dem majority together in the Senate. But Arlen was always going to be a hard sell to a Dem primary crowd, especially when faced with an A-level challenger like Sestak. And Specter was going to be in serious hot water in a general. What says "unprincipled incumbent" better than a shameless party switch for the stated purpose of "getting reelected"? Sestak is a vastly better candidate against the clownish, cartoon evil of Pat Toomey, who rivals Rand Paul for libertarian lunacy. I think Sestak wins this thing by at least 5 points.

3) That said, I do feel a bit bad for old Arlen. Always kind of liked that guy, even as a Republican. He was a politician's politician, and I don't consider that an insult. I didn't like a lot of his votes back then. Still, you always knew when he was just being a partisan hack--and so did he, and he even signaled it to you, like it was all a chivalrous game. But he had his limits of hackery, and that's really why he couldn't be in the GOP anymore. Only purists. Except as Mitch McConnell and Trey Grayson just learned, plain purism ain't enough anymore. You gotta ooze crazy. That may sell in a midterm when public anger is high. But if that anger subsides at all, these guys are toast.

4) Dems win open special election to replace Murtha in PA swing district. That ensures the narrative can't turn too uniformly pro-GOP, as the press desperately wants, and as it surely would have if this race had gone the other way.

5) Long story short: this should be a bad year for the Dems, but I still smell wingnut blood in the water. On second thought, make that in the tea.


At 7:01 AM, Blogger Number Three said...

I am especially enjoying the references to Sestak as "young[er][ish]" in the media. See Broder's column this morning. Sure, Sestak is younger than Specter--who's 80! But he's a RETIRED Navy officer. As in, old enough to retire.

Kentucky--eh, only if Paul implodes, but that might happen. He does hold a lot of extreme views.

At 12:26 AM, Blogger tenaciousmcd said...

Yes, and he apparently has little idea exactly how extreme his views are. Paul knows enough to dance around his views in settings like Maddow, but he only does that b/c she's the "loony left." But if Jim DeMint and Jeff Sessions feel the need to throw you under the bus for being a racially insensitive ideological extremist, you're in a wee trouble.

This could be a fun game. How long until someone asks Paul about BP, or Massey Coal, or Wall Street reform? "Mr. Paul, can you name a case today where an American corporation needs to be held MORE accountable via new federal regulation? OK, then, old federal legislation?" New pols have a short window to craft their narratives, and if they get behind the curve it can be hard to spin their way back out.

Funny, but I had a Rand Paul type in class this term--one of those idealistic, young, ivory tower libertarians whose eyes twinkle before the glow of Hayekian economic models--and I had exactly this debate with him. He would argue that, although he opposed every federal intervention of the 20th century, he supported civil rights in theory (just not the expanded commerce power that made them constitutionally possible). He would argue that libertarians had no history of racism, using as his only evidence Goldwater's role in establishing an NAACP chapter in AZ, and then he would turn around and denounce AuH2O for having palled around with an obviously racist group like, you guessed it, the NAACP (since, as the name states, they're not exactly color blind).

It's a bizarre world view. Because they instinctively associate "freedom" with inequality, and "tyranny" with government action to promote equality, they cannot recognize any injustice that might occur as a result of the private sector and the imbalances of power upon which it thrives. Couple that moral confusion with a spectacular degree of arrogant omniscience and you've got the makings of deeply perverse form of fanaticism, a blazingly self-righteous defense of amorality.

I'm sure that Rand Paul believes that he is the very antithesis of racism, and that he would have marched with MLK even as he viscerally opposed the legislation that MLK was marching for. But then you have to ask: when was the last time you saw an actual racial injustice that affected blacks? or Hispanics? Not counting, that is, the stigma you suppose that affirmative action creates for those groups. I'm not sure he could give you an answer any better than the babbling ramble he gave Maddow last night.


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