UPDATE: You knew this was coming: the NRSC is rapidly backpeddling and caving on funding O’Donnell, with John Cornyn, who previously folded on Charlie Crist and has had to swallow hard and back Sharron Angle and Joe Miller against his colleague Lisa Murkowski, now offering to send Ms. O’Connell $42,000 in make-up money. Read more at leans Democratic.”
ORIGINAL POST: This one could get ugly:
The National Republican Senatorial Committee does not plan to spend money on its Delaware Senate nominee, Christine O’Donnell, an NRSC official said tonight.
O’Donnell, who defeated Republican stalwart Rep. Mike Castle in the state’s GOP Senate primary, surged in recent weeks amid donations from tea party groups and an endorsement from Sarah Palin. But she trails her general election opponent, Democrat Chris Coons, in most polls.
The official noted that if her position improves, the committee might reconsider its allocation of scarce resources.
It’s a rational decision for the committee, to be sure, as it decides how to spend scarce resources; and O’Donnell’s numbers are terrible. But recall that it was the NRSC’s thumb on the scale in Florida for Charlie Crist that touched off the tea party wave that washed Crist out of the party, and washed in Marco Rubio. The tea party mad hatters are not going to be amused… And what about non-tea conservative institutions like the neocon “Weekly Standard,” which went after O’Donnell this week with allegations of lying and instability? Are we looking at yet another GOP civil war? Tick-tock…
And the real issue may be that at the end of the day, establishment Republicans care more about winning elections, but tea party Republicans care more about winning the ideological battle within the Republican Party. Case in point, RedState’s Ben Domenech:
Here’s my view: Conservatives should not tolerate the likes of Mike Castle because of the simple fact that a 51 member Senate with Mike Castle is a Senate where Mike Castle is the most important vote in the room. As Specter and others before him, that Senator will set the terms of policy debates, determining in advance what can succeed and fail. Those who advance the argument that a majority with Castle is better than being in the minority tend to place priorities on Senate committee chairmanships and staff ratios and lobbyist cash… a list which pales in comparison to the power they would wield as the broker for both sides. Again and again I saw this play out during my time as a Senate staffer, and anyone who tells you contrary is incredibly naive about the way legislative decisions are made.
As a friend of mine in the business of campaigns and elections has said, electing moderates simply to secure a majority for Republicans is a self-defeating proposition. We’ve seen this play out time and again. Career politicians abhor principle, and adore power and fecklessness. Their presence in Washington provides constant aid and comfort to the Left. They dilute the brand, confuse voters and sell out conservatives just at the moment they are needed most.
It’s not about being right rather than winning, it’s about the definition of winning in the long term, which cannot be done with elected politicians who don’t believe in conservatism.
Personally, I think the pundits are making a mistake (and I’m sort of a pundit so I use the term to indicate those of higher punditious stature than myself…) in reading the “enthusiasm gap” as a Republican resurgence. Republican favorability is about where it was a year ago, or two, or five. What has changed is that within the Republican Party, we’re seeing a transfer of power, or really a third one this generation. The first was from the anti-Communist/Reaganite/pragmatist wing to the Christian fundamentalists and neoconservatives who dominated the George W. Bush “lost decade” and who dominated the party with their fantasist views of remaking the Middle East and their fetish for torture, Muslim degradation and domestic authoritarianism; to the militant economic Libertarian/corporatist wing that got some things done under Bush (like massive tax cuts weighted toward the rich, and the elimination of the estate tax), but who are seizing full control of the party now. That wing doesn’t care about foreign policy or “the freedom agenda” abroad. They care about stripping the federal government of power, and returning the country to a kind of 19th century economic free range for corporations and the moneyed elite.
Ironically, to get there, they’re taking down Republicans who in many cases, are as corporate as they come, but who lack the ideological zeal to divest the government of power. And they’re doing so while Democrats largely stand aside and look.