Thursday, June 12, 2014

The fight in today's GOP is now between hardline conservatives and radical nihilists

With Cantor's implosion and Brat's rise, get ready for an even more extreme Republican Party

BY Norm Ornstein
Wednesday, June 11, 2014, 12:56 PM

There are three key questions to ask and answer about House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s stunning primary defeat Tuesday night. First, how did it happen and what does it mean? Second, what does it tell us about the policy agenda ahead for the remainder of this year? And third, what are the implications of Cantor’s defeat — the first primary defeat of a party leader ever — for the Republican Party?

On the first question, there will be dozens of answers. The new dominant narrative, of course, is that the Tea Party rose up, struck back, showed its muscle and has the party establishment on its heels. That replaces the previous narrative, that the establishment rose up, struck back, and has the Tea Party on its heels.

All this says more about narratives than it does about reality. As Ezra Klein has pointed out, a tiny proportion of voters in Cantor’s Virginia district actually voted — and of course, at the same time he was losing, establishment favorite Lindsey Graham, in the far more conservative state of South Carolina, was cruising to an impressive primary victory for his Senate seat.

Cantor did face a serious backlash from the radical forces he helped to engender in 2010; he was seen as too much a part of the crony capitalist establishment. He ran a lousy campaign, attacking his radical right opponent as a leftist fan of Democrats, flip-flopping on immigration reform and not spending his vast resources on a get-out-the-vote effort. He was highly visible as the only Jewish Republican in the House, in a district with a strong evangelical presence. And largely unnoticed until yesterday was the role of national talk show hosts and radical activists like Laura Ingraham and Brent Bozell, who went on their own jihad against Cantor.

(More here.)


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