By Mary Kate Cary, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Is what's going on in New York's 23rd Congressional District a GOP civil war or not? If you ask me, it's not.
The media and their friends on the left, including White House adviser Valerie Jarrett on ABC News, are doing their best to turn Dede Scozzafava's withdrawal from the race and endorsement of her Democratic opponent into another example of Republican feuding over "litmus tests." They just can't help themselves. In fact, Jarrett calls Republicans "more and more extreme," yet it's the liberals who have worked themselves into a hissy fit of angry rhetoric. Take a look at Frank Rich's column in today's New York Times—far more extreme than anything being said on the right: "The riotous and bloody national GOP civil war" has devolved into a "wacky paranoid cult" that is "re-enacting Stalinism in full purge mode." It's not the people on the right—the ones who've been "outed" as moderates, supposedly—who are calling each other Stalinists. Ironically, it's the left who are upset about the Republican base.
Maybe it's because they can see what's happening. Democrats can read the polls: Independent swing voters are moving toward the right, and the Republican base. The wide American mainstream is broadening to include fiscal conservatives—yes, some of whom have all sorts of opinions on social issues—but they are united in their concern about the growing size and scope of government. Wasn't that the lesson of August's tea parties—that people of all stripes are concerned about massive government growth? Isn't that what's really threatening the left?
None of the Republicans in tomorrow's races in New York, Virginia, and New Jersey has said much about abortion or gay rights. Instead, they've all been talking about the economy, jobs, and healthcare. Rich Lowry has a great analysis of the Virginia race and why Bob McDonnell's strategy is working:
"While tough on Deeds, McDonnell has stayed upbeat, both substantively and in tone. He has unleashed a flurry of policy proposals. Focusing on the pocketbook issues of jobs, transportation, and education, his ideas emphasize regulatory reform, competition, and private-public partnerships. They are conservative but pragmatic, meant to appeal to non-ideological voters. According to polls, McDonnell is beating Deeds on taxes, economic development, education, transportation—and even 'issues of special concern to women.'"
In New York, Scozzafava's record of raising taxes as an assemblywoman was attacked not only by Republicans but by ads paid for by the Democratic Party—because even Democrats are realizing (too late) that more taxes right now are not going to sell with independents. Being opposed to raising taxes is not an ultra-right litmus test. That's mainstream Republican Party, and increasingly, it's mainstream American.