Politico has an intriguing front page story today suggesting that Democrats might have secretly helped a handful of third party, Tea Party-type bids in seven competitive House seats around the country. "Democratic officials and activists in at least four states now stand accused of collaborating with tea party candidates in an attempt to sabotage Republican challengers in some of the closest House races in the country," Politico's excellent Jeanne Cummings reports.
Stand accused? Of trying to engineer GOP losses? Perish the thought. Shouldn't the sturm und the drang be directed against the Tea Partyers here?
Here's my favorite quote in the piece: "The DCCC has nothing to do with this," spokesman Ryan Rudominer told Politico. No doubt the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee really has nothing to do with this. That's not to say that a few key local Democratic aides and activists, working with winks, nods, and varying degrees of plausible deniability don't, however.
The piece looks at possible Tea Party-Democratic collaboration in seven key House races: the seats currently held by Democratic Reps. Mark Schauer of Michigan, John Adler of New Jersey, and Alan Grayson of Florida, as well as the seats being vacated by Reps. Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania, Bart Stupak of Michigan, and Florida Republicans Adam Putnam and Mario Diaz-Balart. The details in a couple of the cases are quite compelling--the entire story is a must read.
But as Cummings writes,
Recruitment of so-called straw candidates or spoilers is a time-honored, if less than reputable, tradition in American politics. But in this case, some Democrats appear to be in cahoots with ideological adversaries whose ideas they hope to use as weapons against Republicans in the fall.
Now, seven House seats are the subject of controversies that are spawning threats of lawsuits and criminal complaints and even pitting conservative tea party activists against one another.
Stipulating that any criminal activity would be wrong and should be punished ... conservative activists have been pitted against one another? The horror!
This is the problem with mentality that's driving a lot of Tea Party activists (and a disturbing number of progressives, including, apparently, Rep. Henry Waxman who recently suggested he wouldn't miss some conservative Democrats likely not to be returning): an emphasis on ideological purity that makes losing nobly preferable to winning but achieving less than 100 percent of one's objectives. When you get into that mind-set, sabotaging a party nominee in order to "send a message" seems pretty reasonable. And by extension it's better to be a pure minority in Congress than a broad majority.
So don't blame the Democrats for handing over bullets when conservatives are forming up into the proverbial circular firing squad.