Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
January 4, 2010
POLITICS: Bob Bennett Delenda Est

Erick Erickson's post at RedState advocating a challenge to Senator Bob Bennett is a pretty good example of a couple of things. One, of course, is the combination of Erick's growing influence and the increasing activist focus of the site. I've always been more punditry/advocacy-oriented than into activism, but Erick's a natural fit for it and I'm definitely on board with the direction the site has taken; it's been a necessary evolution in today's climate.

A second is the true degree of tension between movement conservatism and the party. Bennett's mostly an obscure party man in a safe seat, so he'd seem like a low-priority person to attack, unlike Senators who are either (1) obvious electoral liabilities or (2) frequently high-profile dissenters on prominent votes. But the issue with Bennett is more his influence around the edges. Much of the tension right now is over a sense that while the House and Senate GOP leadership have done a fine job of keeping their caucus united, too many of the same people who led the party through the disasters of 2006 and 2008 are still in charge and don't seem to have really absorbed why anger at the Democrats hasn't translated into trust for the GOP as opposed to trust for populist outlets like Glenn Beck and the tea party movement.

A third is the distinction between inside and outside punditry/activism. I personally have no knowledge of anything Bennett's done in public to warrant this - but Erick is relying on people with inside knowledge of how the GOP caucus works.

Anyway, go read the post for Erick's reasoning, which turns in part on the fact that (1) it's cheap and easy to mount a challenge under the Utah GOP's convention system and (2) it's as safe a GOP seat as there is. My general philosophy is that it's good to have primary challenges but rarely more than 1 or 2 a cycle in the Senate, just enough to make people not want to have their name at the top of that list. As it happens, we have a bunch of hot primary fights for seats with no GOP incumbent (e.g., Florida, California, Ohio), but with Arlen Specter's departure there aren't many GOP incumbents facing a serious challenge (I'm not sure yet how serious JD Hayworth's primary challenge to McCain is). I definitely wouldn't bother with primarying Bennett if he wasn't representing such a safe seat, but conservatives unhappy with his performance at least have reason to expect that if there's anywhere we should be entitled to demand faithful representation, it's Utah.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 5:49 PM | Politics 2010 | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

Agree with the thrust of the post. BTW-we need to get on the stick and get people to back Brown in Mass.. A win there on 1/19 would be seismic.

Posted by: dch at January 4, 2010 8:20 PM

I understand the sentiment, but would this sort of thing go against "us" (Republicans, which I'm more & more moving away from even as my conservative/libertarian principles are quite entrenched) in some ways? For someone like Specter, yeah, the only plus he had was the party affiliation & partisan vote for the "majority" when it was time, but are we going to weed out the Rudy Giuliani's of the country because he's not as conservative as, say, I am? The best thing that happened to NYC in my lifetime was Rudy Giuliani. And even though CA is an absolute disaster, at least Arnold tried to get those referendums through; the people of CA voted FOR all that spending, folks, they've dug their own graves. Hard to imagine that Cruz Bustamente would curb the impending socialist policies or the unions grip.

So, sure, Linc Chafee was a worthless RINO.
Folks like Rudy, McCain, C. Whitman: sometimes we NEED them.

Caveat: Snowe & Collins represent Maine, so they truly represent their constituents, which is a sect that is decidedly NOT conservative. Hey, if I can praise Zell Miller for putting the constituents above party, I can be a non-hypocrite & recognize that those two women, as much as I disagree with them, are following the wishes of the people they're elected to represent.

I guess what I'm saying is: Scott Brown will have a lot of liberal Democrats in his state were he to be like Weld & Romney & win election, so isn't it somewhat implausible to expect him to vote in the same manner as, say, Jim Demint?

Posted by: RW at January 5, 2010 9:44 AM

RW - As I have said before, it's situational. I absolutely don't want to drive moderates out of the party...but I see no reason why we should be electing them in Utah, either.

Collins and Snowe ended up holding the line on healthcare, which demonstrated their continuing usefulness.

Posted by: Crank at January 5, 2010 9:52 AM

I have trouble deciding whether Erick Erickson is a Democratic plant, or simply doesn't care about the future of conservatism and the Republican Party. I lean toward the plant side, to be honest.

We already know that Erickson worked hard to elect the Democrat in NY-23 - thereby giving Nancy Pelosi an extra vote on health care (which vote she may very well need). If health care passes by one vote, we should rename it the Erick Erickson Health Care Bill.

We also know that Erickson is in favor of handing Florida's Senate seat to Kendrick Meek. After all, all of the non-Rasmussen polls out there show that Crist beats Meek handily but that Rubio will lose to Meek (anybody who believes Rasmussen's goofy polls this cycles ought to have their head examined - he is clearly putting out polls to tell the Erickson's of the world what they want to hear). Heck, we are already seeing money being diverted from defeating Democrats to instead defeat fellow Republicans.

As for the Bennett thing, the idea that Bennett is a moderate or liberal Republican is odd. Bennett is a mainstream Republican. Not especially conservative, to be sure, but no different than his fellow Utahn Hatch or most other Republicans in the Senate. The best measure of conservatism in the Senate (http://www.voteview.com) ranks him 13th most liberal (of 40, obviously) this Congress - right between Cochran and Shelby (11th and 12th most liberal) and Hatch and Wicker (14th and 15th most liberal). Prior Congresses are basically the same. So to say that Bennett is a "moderate" is, to be polite about it, fanciful.

More generally, though, the idea that we ought to be spending our time, energy, and money defeating *Republicans* strikes me as moronic. Every dollar, every minute, every post spent defeating Bob Bennett is one less dollar, minute, and post spent defeating a Democrat.

A few months ago, Erickson had a post advocating a civil war in the Republican Party. That's the type of thinking that will give Obama bigger majorities, more power and more ability to enact left-wing priorities. People like Erickson (on the right) and David Frum and Bruce Bartlett (who similarly advocate a civil war in the party - just from the other side) ought to be drummed out of the party, and leave it to people who actually want to win elections, prevent government takeover of healthcare, and obstruct Obama. Erickson clearly is not really interested in any of that.

Posted by: A.S. at January 5, 2010 10:24 AM

but I see no reason why we should be electing them in Utah, either

Oh, I'm with you 100% on that one. I chalk it up to the clueless GOP suits (the same sorts of folks who spent $900K on Dede Scozzafava). I just don't want it to be a case where we screw up so much that we allow Democrats to take over those 'safe' states. Kathleen Sebelius was a popular governor of Kansas, after all, and Napolitano came from McCain's "safe" Republican state. There is, of course, an ebb & flow in US politics, so what is the case one day may not work the other days (remember when John McCain was the apple of the left's, and Chris Matthews', eye?) and I have little knowledge of Bob Bennett; but, I'd hate to damage a "safe" seat for reasons other than ideological purity. If Bennett is going to vote "with me" 80+% of the time, then I'd rather the money & efforts spent on campaigns against him be used in other places.

Personally, I'd rather they just hand cash over to Rudy and bribe him into running for Hillary's old seat: it was an easy pickup just waiting for his candidacy. If not health/cancer related, why, Rudy, why? We fumbled the ball on the 1 yard line w/that one.

Posted by: RW at January 5, 2010 12:02 PM

Boy, it would be nice if the RNC had held on to that $900k and had it to give to Scott Brown now, wouldn't it. He doesn't even have to win to have a huge impact on the health care debate. Anything close is bound to scare off some moderates.

Posted by: Paul H. at January 5, 2010 1:45 PM

Utah's Senatorial delegation has just been static for too long. I know Hatch has been there forever, but he'll be there till he dies.

Bennett hasn't done much of note, and it would be nice to get some new blood in there. The Republican party needs more voices loudly advocating conservative policies in national office, and a go-with-the-flow guy like Bennett doesn't do that. And it's a shame to waste a seat in a place like Utah, where such activism would sell well, on a "faithful voter" like Bennett.

Jason Chaffetz's election in 2008 shows that Utahns who vote Republican are eager to vote for new Republicans, and that they're not entirely happy with the establishment's candidates.

Posted by: Joel in Seattle at January 5, 2010 3:10 PM

I have trouble deciding whether Erick Erickson is a Democratic plant, or simply doesn't care about the future of conservatism and the Republican Party. I lean toward the plant side, to be honest.

We already know that Erickson worked hard to elect the Democrat in NY-23 - thereby giving Nancy Pelosi an extra vote on health care (which vote she may very well need). If health care passes by one vote, we should rename it the Erick Erickson Health Care Bill.

We also know that Erickson is in favor of handing Florida's Senate seat to Kendrick Meek. After all, all of the non-Rasmussen polls out there show that Crist beats Meek handily but that Rubio will lose to Meek (anybody who believes Rasmussen's goofy polls this cycles ought to have their head examined - he is clearly putting out polls to tell the Erickson's of the world what they want to hear). Heck, we are already seeing money being diverted from defeating Democrats to instead defeat fellow Republicans.

As for the Bennett thing, the idea that Bennett is a moderate or liberal Republican is odd. Bennett is a mainstream Republican. Not especially conservative, to be sure, but no different than his fellow Utahn Hatch or most other Republicans in the Senate. The best measure of conservatism in the Senate (http://www.voteview.com) ranks him 13th most liberal (of 40, obviously) this Congress - right between Cochran and Shelby (11th and 12th most liberal) and Hatch and Wicker (14th and 15th most liberal). Prior Congresses are basically the same. So to say that Bennett is a "moderate" is, to be polite about it, fanciful.

More generally, though, the idea that we ought to be spending our time, energy, and money defeating *Republicans* strikes me as moronic. Every dollar, every minute, every post spent defeating Bob Bennett is one less dollar, minute, and post spent defeating a Democrat.

A few months ago, Erickson had a post advocating a civil war in the Republican Party. That's the type of thinking that will give Obama bigger majorities, more power and more ability to enact left-wing priorities. People like Erickson (on the right) and David Frum and Bruce Bartlett (who similarly advocate a civil war in the party - just from the other side) ought to be drummed out of the party, and leave it to people who actually want to win elections, prevent government takeover of healthcare, and obstruct Obama. Erickson clearly is not really interested in any of that.

Posted by: A.S. at January 6, 2010 8:42 AM

When I read about that post, I started wondering -- seriously -- whether Erickson is on Rahm Emanuel's payroll. And then quickly decided that, as usual, incompetence is the more likely explanation.

(Oh, and a quick look at his voting scores shows that Bennett is a moderate conservative, not a moderate.)

Posted by: Jim Miller at January 6, 2010 11:20 PM
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