Political Hay

The Sabotage Republicans

Ken Cuccinelli was betrayed by the Establishment.

By 11.8.13

UPI
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Call them the Sabotage Republicans.

They have been busily at work in Virginia these last few weeks, sabotaging the gubernatorial campaign of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

But first?

Remember these headlines?

  • From 2012: Romney Loses; Conservatives Weigh Limiting Clout of GOP Establishment
  • From 2008: McCain Loses: Conservatives Call for GOP Reform 
  • From 2004: Bush Narrowly Beats Kerry; Conservatives Call for Rove Resignation
  • From 2000: Bush wins by Supreme Court vote: Conservatives Call for End of “Compassionate Conservatism”
  • From 1996: Dole Loses: Conservatives Demand End to Moderate Nominees
  • From 1992: Bush Loses to Clinton: Conservatives Weigh Restrictions on GOP Establishment 

If you don’t recall these headlines, no, your memory isn’t failing. They were never written. And if you saw these headlines yesterday your eyes weren’t failing you either. They were written:

  • From the New York TimesGOP Weighs Limiting Clout of Right Wing
  • From the Washington PostClose Result in Va. Governor’s Race Hardens GOP Divisions
  • From Karl Rove in the Wall Street JournalLessons for 2014 From a Virginia Defeat

While we’re at it, let’s throw in one more headline, like the last three from yesterday, this headline too is a real one:

  • From 1976 in the New York TimesReagan Urges His Party to Save Itself By Declaring Its Conservative Beliefs

Now, notice anything here?

Every time some Establishment GOP nominee loses the White House or a hot gubernatorial, Senate or other race — conservatives have been silent about this unending ability of Establishment Republicans to lose either close elections or win them by unnecessarily close margins.. 

Yet if one conservative — that would be Ken Cuccinelli this week — loses a race, Katie bar the door. 

Worse, up until now not much has been made of the long, disgraceful trait of Establishment Republicans to demand party unity — unless they lose a primary or a convention. In which case they simply refuse to unite behind the winning conservative. And deliberately, with malice aforethought — actively seek to sabotage that conservative.

There was one notable exception to this, captured in that 1976 New York Times headline which we have cited in this space many times. Ronald Reagan had finally had enough — and in the aftermath of yet another Establishment GOP presidential crash he made clear what path the GOP had to follow if it really wanted to win. Losing to Gerald Ford in the battle for the 1976 nomination, Reagan made a rallying speech for Ford at the convention and campaigned for him that fall. Ford lost. A month after the 1976 election, Reagan made a point of breaking the traditional conservative silence on losing Establishment races and turned the tables. A political party was not a “fraternal order” he said tartly to the Times, and that was the real problem with moderate, Establishment Republicanism. Which is why they kept setting the party up for repeated defeats.

In fact, one of the real problems here — as exemplified by the Cuccinelli defeat — is that moderate Republicans not only refuse to pull together. They go out of their way to sabotage the conservative.

Say it again? That word is sabotage. Betrayal. The Establishment GOP goes out…of…its…way to sabotage. Spelled s-a-b-o-t-a-g-e.

Let’s name some names here, shall we? Present and past to illustrate the point.

We’ll start here with this story in Breitbart by Matthew Boyle. The headline?

Cantor’s Ex-Chief of Staff Helped McAuliffe to Victory

The story begins thusly:

The ex-chief of staff for House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) helped Democrat Terry McAuliffe beat Republican Ken Cuccinelli in Virginia’s gubernatorial election race. 

Boyle goes on to detail how GOP House Majority Leader’s ex-chief of staff Boyd Marcus, who had supported the GOP moderate Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling over Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for governor. Cuccinelli won the day — so what to do? Why but of course! Marcus was out the door to help defeat Cuccinelli by actively working to elect Democrat Terry McAuliffe. 

Marcus is quoted as saying — and I have supplied the bold print for emphasis:

“I was looking at the candidates, and I saw Terry McAuliffe as the guy who will work with everybody to get things done… Virginia needs an experienced businessman who will put the practical needs of our people ahead of political ideology. I’ve never before supported any Democrat, but this election Terry is the clear choice for mainstream conservatives.I am excited to work with him to grow the already-long list of prominent Republican leaders who are supporting his campaign.”

Got that?

Terry McAuliffe — your basic left-wing liberal, huge supporter of Obamacare, abortion on demand, high taxes and big government among other things (does the name Hillary Clinton ring a bell?) — and Boyd Marcus the Cantor/Bolling guy, plus an “already-long list of prominent Republicans,” see Ken Cuccinelli as the ideologue. And these guys are, they say, the “mainstream conservatives.”

Scratch a “mainstream conservative” on Eric Cantor’s staff, apparently, and what you really have is a left-wing liberal.

Is there any wonder why the GOP House Leadership has had so many problems dealing with conservative members? Clearly there is reason to believe the Leader’s staff of the supposedly conservative party isn’t even close to being “mainstream conservative.” In the case of Marcus, he has vividly illustrated that in fact he was all too willing to go over the side to a far-left ideology.

Marcus isn’t alone in the Sabotage Republican category. In fact, he is merely typical of the breed.

Here’s the difference between conservatives and Establishment Republicans.

Back in the paleo-days of American political history — 1960 — Barry Goldwater’s name was placed in nomination for the presidency. He lost — he actually never ran a real campaign — but be that as it may, when he went to the podium of the 1960 GOP convention to withdraw his name and endorse Establishment winner Vice President Richard Nixon he said this, bold print added for emphasis: 

Now you conservatives and all Republicans, I'd like you to listen to this. While Dick and I may disagree on some points, they're not many. I would not want any negative action of mine to enhance the possibility of a victory going to those who by their very words have lost faith in America….. And you conservatives think this over—we don't gain anything when you get mad at a candidate because you don't agree with his every philosophy. We don't gain anything when you disagree with the platform and then do not go out and work and vote for your party. 

…I know what you say. You say, "I'll get even with that fellow. I'll show this party something!" But what are you doing when you stay at home? You are helping the opposition party elect candidates dedicated to the destruction of this country!

Now I implore you. Forget it! We've had our chance, and I think the conservatives have made a splendid showing at this convention! 

We've had our chance: we've fought our battle. Now let's put our shoulders to the wheels of Dick Nixon and push him across the line. Let's not stand back. This country is too important for anyone's feelings: this country in its majesty is too great for any man, be he conservative or liberal, to stay home and not work just because he doesn't agree. Let's grow up, conservatives. 

Let's, if we want to take this party back—and I think we can someday—let's get to work. 

I'm a conservative and I'm going to devote all my time from now until November to electing Republicans from the top of the ticket to the bottom of the ticket, and I call upon my fellow conservatives to do the same. Just let us remember that we are facing Democrat candidates and a Democrat platform that signify a new type of New Deal, far more menacing than anything we have seen in the past.”

Then comes 1964. Barry Goldwater and his conservatives defeat liberal Republican New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Like Goldwater the loser fours earlier, Rockefeller the loser this time gets his five minutes to address the delegates and the nation via television. 

Unlike the conservative loser Goldwater in 1960, the Establishment loser Rockefeller took a very different approach to losing.

Said Rockefeller, and we will leave in the notations of “Crowd Boos” as they happened in the original, with bold print supplied for emphasis: 

During this year I have criss-crossed this nation fighting--to keep the Republican party the party of all the people and warning of the extremist threat, it’s a danger to the party. 

--It's danger to the party and it's danger to the nation. The methods of these extremist elements, I have experienced first hand. [Crowd boos.] That's right. Their tactics have ranged from cancellation by coercion of a speaking engagement before a college to outright threats of personal violence.

This is still a free country ladies and gentlemen. [Crowd boos.] These things, ladies and gentlemen have no place in America, but I can personally testify to their existence. And, so can countless others who have also experienced anonymous mid-night and early morning telephone calls. That's right. [Crowd boos.] Unsigned and threatening letters. Smear and hate literature, strong-arm goon tactics, bomb threats and bombings. Infiltration and takeover of established political organizations by Communist and Nazi methods! [Crowd boos.]

Some of you don't like to hear it ladies and gentlemen, but it's the truth. These extremists feed on fear, hate and terror...There is no place in this Republican party...for such hawkers of hate, such purveyors of prejudice, such fabricators of fear. [Crowd boos.] Whether Communist, Ku Klux Klan or Birchers! [Crowd boos and begins continuous cheer of "We want Barry!] There is no place in this Republican Party for those who would infiltrate its ranks, distort its aims and convert it into a cloak of apparent respectability for a dangerous extremism. And make no mistake about it, the hidden members of the John Birch Society and other like them are out to do just that.

Lovely. Not a word there about the real opponent in 1964 — Lyndon Johnson, the Great Society, the impending deluge of Big Government that would swamp the country and set it on the road to fiscal disaster. No, Rockefeller’s approach was to go after conservatives and trash them. They were Nazis. Klan members. Haters.

Then there was this jewel.

In the closing hours of that 1964 nomination battle, when it was abundantly clear to all that Goldwater had well-more than a majority of the votes, out came this charming missive over the name of Rockefeller’s last minute replacement as the liberal GOP hope to defeat Goldwater. Pennsylvania Governor William Scranton. Tellingly, it was written by Scranton’s staff and not seen by their boss, but it reflected the liberal GOP mindset. The letter was, as presidential campaign chronicler Theodore H. White described it, theoretically a debate challenge. But in fact it read “less like a challenge to debate than an indictment, a summons to Goldwater to stand trial before the Convention delegates.” The letter read, in part, with bold print added for emphasis:

Your organization…feel they have bought, beaten and compromised enough delegate support to make the result a foregone conclusion. With open contempt for the dignity, integrity and common sense of the convention, your managers say in effect that the delegates are little more than a flock of chickens whose necks will be wrung at will…

You have too often casually prescribed nuclear war as a solution to a troubled world.

You have too often allowed the radical extremists to use you.

You have too often stood for irresponsibility in the serious question of racial holocaust.

You have too often read Taft and Eisenhower and Lincoln out of the Republican Party.

In short, Goldwaterism has come to stand for a whole crazy-quilt collection of absurd and dangerous positions that would be soundly repudiated by the American people in November. 

Got that? The winner of the GOP nomination was “absurd,” his positions “dangerous.”

When the 1964 convention was over, instead of uniting behind Goldwater as Goldwater had done with Nixon — and asked his supporters to do the same — the Establishment/Rockefeller wing of the GOP took a walk. They sat on their hands — or went out of their way to sabotage Goldwater.

Decades later, moderates were still at it. In 2010 Delaware, GOP moderate Congressman Mike Castle was filled with soothing calls for party unity — until he lost the GOP Senate nomination to the conservative Christine O’Donnell. And promptly sat on his hands along with the Delaware and Washington GOP Establishments. Which spent their time shorting her on funds and attacking her.

Now the same stunt has been pulled in Virginia with the GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli. The moderates, led by moderate Lieutenant Governor Bolling and Eric Cantor’s ex-chief of staff, lost in a convention to the conservative Cuccinelli. So Bolling spends his time, like Nelson Rockefeller and liberal Republicans all the way back in 1964, and does the minimal. With Cantor’s friend Marcus simply going over to the other side, period.

What, pray tell, was going on with Reince Priebus and the Republican National Committee? With the Chamber of Commerce? Here’s this from Politico:

McAuliffe outraised Cuccinelli by almost $15 million, and he used the cash advantage to pummel him on the airwaves. A lack of resources forced the Republican to go dark in the D.C. media market during the final two weeks.

The Republican National Committee spent about $3 million on Virginia this year, compared to $9 million in the 2009 governor’s race.

The Chamber of Commerce spent $1 million boosting McDonnell in 2009 and none this time.

“If the Republicans would have rallied around the nominee instead of refusing to support Cuccinelli, he would have won,” said a GOP source involved in the race.

Then there is Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and the Republican Governors Association deciding to take their money and, instead of giving directly to Cuccinelli, going off on their own to do commercials talking about… China. That’s right…not Obamacare, but China.

Here’s Matt Lewis on this over at the Daily Caller:

“Bobby Jindal’s presidential campaign is over,” said the Cuccinelli advisor. “He screwed this up so bad. And I don’t know why. The campaign knew it was moving numbers over ObamaCare. And the RGA was not very far from that information, they could have obtained it themselves,” the advisor continued. “They should have given the money to the campaign to spend as opposed to running these stupid China ads. They just blew it.” 

About the only thing one can say for Jindal is that this was political incompetence as opposed to political sabotage.

And who will forget Chris Christie? Last year, as the key moment of the presidential campaign arrived along with Hurricane Sandy, Christie went out of his way to put his arm around Romney opponent President Obama. This year….cruising to a 60% percent victory and asked to spare a few hours for Cuccinelli, Christie refused. Once again, it was all about Christie..

And this is the guy who is supposed to be the new leader of the party?

The fact here is that sabotaging conservatives is built into the DNA of the GOP Establishment. Unable to win themselves a considerable bit of the time — and then continuing to move the country left when they do win, just not as fast and so much better managed don’t you know — they have never ever changed.

Governor Christie is being touted as some sort of inevitable nominee in 2016. The next Tom Dewey, the next Gerald Ford, the next Bob Dole and John McCain and Mitt Romney.

And if by chance he flames out? With the conservative base in open rebellion in the 2016 primaries, awarding the nomination to, say, Texas Senator Ted Cruz? You can bet that America will be treated to yet another knee-jerk, reflexive response from the quarters of the GOP Establishment.

Sabotage.

The GOP Establishment will find a way — quietly or not so quietly — to sabotage the conservative nominee if there is a conservative nominee in 2016. This is what they do. They did it to Barry Goldwater in 1964, they tried to do it to Ronald Reagan in 1980 with liberal GOP Congressman John Anderson. Anderson who lost in the primaries to Reagan, running as a third party candidate in a deliberate attempt to sabotage Reagan. Anderson failed — but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.

The Republican Party has two serious problems on its hands.

The first is with those like Eric Cantor’s ex-chief of staff who are invited into leadership positions in the party — when they in fact are not conservatives at all and quietly or openly seek to sabotage the party.

The second is with those Establishment Republicans who do manage to win — and then see their job as merely managing the leftist status quo. 

This time around the target was Ken Cuccinelli. 

But Ken Cuccinelli wasn’t the first — and he isn’t going to be the last.

That is the Republican Party’s real problem. And it’s a big one.

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About the Author
Jeffrey Lord is a former Reagan White House political director and author. He writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com.