Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The essential insanity of the Hoffman strategy

Farbeit for me, a Ned Lamont donor back in the day, to say that parties can never conduct ideological purges. But what surprises me about the Hoffman race is that conservatives spent so much time and money to finish "as expected" (assuming, of course, that he wins today). One would figure that an enfeebled minority would want all the help they could get, but evidently Republicans thought they could be choosers in addition to being beggars. Very well.

The crazy thing is that the millions of dollars spent by Republicans in this race could have gone to, say, contest the seat of freshman Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH). Or to defend the very marginal seat of Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA). These are areas where the Republicans stand to either gain or lose strength in the House. As a Democrat I'm pleased as punch to see the GOP wasting money replacing a moderately conservative, libertarian-type candidate with one that's all-around conservative, because that money won't be used against other Democrats. But don't Republican donors want to get the most bang for their buck? It's not like the Republican Party at an elite level is infested with moderates.

The answer, as we all know, is that the incentives for all the groups here are not the same. The Club for Growth, in particular, is making its play for power within the GOP. They have silently reorganized themselves as the financial arm of the Tea Party Movement, and if Hoffman wins they'll have a real scalp on their wall, and their power will increase. Being as the Club's record is pretty terrible anywhere outside than hard-right districts, it will be interesting to see what races they try to intervene in. Considering that they carried a great deal of blame for unseating Sen. Lincoln Chafee a few years back, I think it's safe to say that no moderate Republican will be safe.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.