Jeff Lord, in the post below, somehow equates the O’Donnell race with the Hoffman effort in New York. Ridiculous. First, Castle had a history of voting with the GOP on most key party-line votes. Second, Hoffman clearly had a very real chance of winning that race; O’Donnell had no chance. Third, my biggest criticisms of O’Donnell came from a conservative perspective: She actually sued our friends at the conservative standard-bearer group the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, and she did so on weird, trumped-up sexual harassment grounds — a double shot of anti-conservatism.
Fourth, she had a history of financial shenanigans, plus of course the weird witchcraft stuff and the other embarrassing TV appearances. Fifth, this was for a seat in DELAWARE, statewide, which clearly wasn’t winnable by a hardline conservative but was a shoo-in for Castle to win. Sixth, at the time it appeared a very real possibility that Republicans could actually take a Senate majority if they could win Delaware, and the differences between a Reid-led Senate and a McConnell-led Senate are, of course, immense, from blocking bad judges to passing repeals of some or all of Obamacare and forcing Obame to veto them to getting better positions in budget negotiations. Seventh, Castle was a gentleman of the old school, whereas Scozzafava was a, uh, less than a gentle-lady, with Barbara Bush once providing the word I’m looking for. Eighth, Gingrich was a major figure who actually went on TV and scolded and insulted conservatives for daring to oppose Scozzafava; I don’t think I insulted Jeff or any other supporter of O’DOnnell. Matter of fact, the insults ran the other way, with Jeff harshly attacking conservatives who didn’t jump on board the O’Donnell train. I actually advocated cooling the rhetoric.
Ninth, as weak as Castle’s voting record was on some things, he never came anywhere close to approaching the level of awfulness of Scozzafava on issue positions. Tenth, when Gingrich stepped in, the Hoffman race was THE single cause celebre for the conservative movement at the time, and indeed was THE first test of the power of the Tea Party movement, with the possibility that failure could seriously discourage the new troops plus drive a bigger wedge between them and the GOP — so the Scozzy support by the Newtster, with his prominence as former Speaker, was a far more important and devastating blow to conservative unity than anything involving the Delaware race, which was one of hundreds of simultaneous campaigns and which, by the way, served as a rallying point for the Left to paint GOP candidates as nutcases — which, by the way, almost assuredly helped the Dems frame the debates in their winning Senate races in Nevada and Colorado as well. Also, Obamacare still hung in the balance, and if Hoffman had won that race (which he might have if people like Gingrich hadn’t effectively painted him as an extremist), that one vote might have made all the difference; remember that the last several Dems all came over as a group, and only after ensuring that the final margin would be at least two votes so they couldn’t be called “THE person who passed Obamacare,” a la Marjorie Margolis-Medvinsky (spelling?) losing her seat over the Clinton taxes/budget in 1993; in other words, one fewer vote for Obamacare might have meant THREE fewer votes for Obamacare, meaning defeat for Obamacare, so we wouldn’t face this nightmare actually enacted into law).
Eleventh, just to set the record straight, I did NOT strongly support Mike Castle. Here’s what I wrote:
I make no endorsement of Mike Castle’s leftward drift over the years. I make no endorsement in the race. I love a lot of what O’Donnell says. I would still be at least tempted to vote for her if I lived in Delaware. But if I were a political consultant telling TEA Partiers and conservative leaders in general what their best purely political action would be, long term, what I would say is this: Go to Mike Castle and get pledges from him to move back rightward.
That was a very tentative “lean towards Castle, maybe” sort of stance.
Finally, here’s the perfect distinction between O’Donnell and Hoffman: It was the same conservative reporter, John McCormack, who exposed Scozzafava for the nasty woman she is who did the straight news story on O’Donnell’s suit against ISI that sent Jeff into orbit. In short, the hero of the Hoffman campaign (other than Hoffman himself) was made into the bain of the O’Donnell campaign. How, then, were the two remotely comparable?
Jeff was kind enough to note that among conservatives, I was “not alone by any stretch of the imagination” in airing reasonable concerns about O’Donnell. This is a huge distinction with Gingrich, who was almost entirely alone among conservatives, indeed was arrayed directly against almost every conservative activist in the nation and insulting them while doing so, when he came out for Scozzy. In short, there was honest debate on the first, but only total establishmentarians jumped in for Scozzy. Jeff also echoed Gingrich’s explanation that it was “local people” who chose Scozzy as the GOP nominee in New York. That is only technically true. It was local party bosses, not an open meeting of party activists, that chose Scozzy, and the little-reported truth is that they were responding to serious arm-twisting coming from the NRCC or their representatives in favor of Scozzy; had the Washington folks not weighed in so heavily, a third guy, far more conservative than Scozzy but still quite in line with the district (a businessman whose name I now forget), was, by many accounts, poised to win the official GOP nod. All of which is to say that Gingrich’s ill-informed, highly insulting intervention against Hoffman was far, far worse, and more damaging to the cause, than was anything conservatives said in worrying about O’Donnell.
Gingrich’s intervention then was a major, horrible knife in the back to the whole conservative movement. On O’Donnell, on the other hand, the movement itself, outside of a few passionate defenders like Jeff Lord, was thoroughly ambivalent.
The two cases are in no way comparable.
But Jeff’s passion for the cause remains admirable, regardless.
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