On the matter of actually listening to the grassroots and ending the obnoxious “Washington leaders know best” model of poitical party management, where does U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, really stand? Well, despite talking a good game now (in response to justifiable grassroots anger at Cornyn’s horrible decisions to endorse Crist over Rubio in Florida and repeatedly favor Washinton-chosen moderates rather than letting primaries take their own course), it turns out that Cornyn not only continues to “go native” inside the Beltway, but he does so in a two-faced fashion.
On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace asked him about this issue. Here’s the relevant part of the transcript:
WALLACE: Well, I’m talking about the Tea Party Movement, which…
WALLACE: … was upset with your organization for endorsing people like in Florida and saying let the voters decide.
CORNYN: Well, we try to listen to what they’ve told us, and that is we’re going to have competitive primaries in Florida and elsewhere, and let the primary voters choose. I think that is — and then nominate the strongest candidate to run in November.
Sounds good, right? Too bad his words can’t be trusted. There is a big primary election in Illinois on Tuesday, Feb. 2. The establishment candidate is U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk. The general election is seen as winnable, and for all I know, Mr. Kirk may well be by far the Republican with the greatest ability to win. But there ARE other candidates, five of them, including conservative favorite Patrick Hughes. Judging from Cornyn’s words on Sunday, one would assume — would one not? — that the NRSC is NOT playing favorites in that race, and that it will stay neutral until the Republican voters of Illinois themselves sort it out. But one would assume wrongly. Go to the NRSC web site, to the page dedicated to the Senate race, (click on the state of Illinois on the map) and, voila, the ONLY GOP candidate mentioned is Mark Kirk. This is outrageous, and it is unacceptable. And it makes Sen. Cornyn a liar.
The NRSC has been more problem than solution for most of the past 24 years, at least. As long as it continues to try to play favorites within Republican primaries, rather than to concentrate on beating Democrats, it will continue to be part of the problem. It is a counterproductive, insider-enriching, bed of Beltway egos with no more idea of what makes the hinterlands tick than Bill Clinton has an idea of what maritel fidelity entails.
Again, this is not to endorse Hughes over Kirk, or to say that the NRSC should do so. Instead, this is to say that national party committees should keep their friggin’ paws out of this primary, and all primaries. Let the people decide. Listen to the home-state voters rather than dictate to them. And don’t just check their Washington egos at the door, but relegate those egos to one of Dante’s deeper circles, where such egos belong.