Happy New Year.
While America was celebrating the holidays, the Wall Street Journal ran a page one story the day after Christmas headlined as follows:
GOP, Business Recast Message
Republican Leaders, Allies Aim to Diminish Clout of Most-Conservative Activists
The story said this right up front:
Meanwhile, major donors and advocacy groups, such as the Chamber of Commerce and American Crossroads, are preparing an aggressive effort to groom and support more centrist Republican candidates for Congress in 2014’s midterm elections.
Karl Rove (i.e., architect of the American Crossroads SuperPAC), the Chamber of Commerce, and the Washington GOP Establishment have declared war on the Reaganite conservative base of the Republican Party.
Welcome to the 2014 election.
An election which, by all accounts, both historically and in terms of the specifics of President Obama’s sinking ratings, should be a winner — a big winner — for the GOP.
Unless there is a deliberate, willful attempt to sabotage the GOP from within. Using the GOP Establishment as a launching pad to ensure that Reagan-style conservatives — the base of the Republican Party — are defeated by Establishment, statist Republicans. Republicans who will in turn so anger the GOP base that the base simply refuses to turn out in November. Thus handing President Obama and the statist forces of Big Government a victory they should never have had and in fact would be unable to earn on their own.
The GOP Establishment wins under the ruse of being… honest, they promise, cross-their-hearts-and-hope-to-die… conservative. And then they do the inevitable… the usual… GOP version of the Socialist Deal. Being “realistic”… seeking (Margaret Thatcher’s hated word) “consensus.”
Harrumph, yada yada yada and all of that.
This isn’t rocket science.
Let’s be candid here, shall we?
This is the latest round in the GOP civil war that has been ongoing for decades.
And, while that WSJ story does not mention Mr. Rove by name, the name of American Crossroads — the Rove-created SuperPAC — is mentioned front and center in this story.
We have discussed Karl Rove and American Crossroads before (here and here).
Back in February of 2013 the New York Times ran this story on Mr. Rove’s Crossroads group, describing it as follows:
The biggest donors in the Republican Party are financing a new group to recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts who Republican leaders worry could complicate the party’s efforts to win control of the Senate.
…The group, the Conservative Victory Project, is intended to counter other organizations that have helped defeat establishment Republican candidates over the last two election cycles.”
The Conservative Victory Project, which is backed by Karl Rove and his allies who built American Crossroads into the largest Republican super PAC of the 2012 election cycle, will start by intensely vetting prospective contenders for Congressional races to try to weed out candidates who are seen as too flawed to win general elections.
The backlash against American Crossroads was considerable. The very fact of the New York Times piece signaled the Reagan base of the GOP — these days called the Tea Party — that the GOP Washington Establishment was out to undercut Reaganites as the war against GOP statists picked up steam.
Now that 2014 has arrived, the WSJ story indicates the war on Reagan conservatives by the Bush/Ford/Rockefeller wing of the GOP is on again in earnest. Over at Breitbart, Tony Lee reported another aspect of this story, headlined as follows:
Karl Rove’s Crossroads Reloading Against Tea Party
Even though Karl Rove’s American Crossroads brand has been damaged after the group declared war against conservative candidates, the group will reportedly try to influence the 2014 midterm elections by bullying campaigns and creating groups that, on the surface, do not seem to be affiliated with them.
According to the New York Times, Crossroads “appears to be testing” its “new approach” in Kentucky. The Conservative Victory Project, the group formed to take on conservative candidates, has stayed out of Kentucky’s Senate primary between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Tea Party challenger Matt Bevin. Instead, a group called “Kentuckians for Strong Leadership” is curiously backing McConnell while getting most of its cash from Crossroads donors. It is “legally separate from Crossroads”; but Stephen Law, the president of Crossroads, sits on its board, and the two groups share a treasurer.
Crossroads may set up “similar groups in races in which its brand may be less appealing to voters or donors.” The Times notes that this is an approach Crossroads may have to take because Rove’s organization has been so tarnished among the conservative base that candidates fear donors will not contribute to any group associated with him.
In other races, Crossroads has been threatening Senate candidates, saying the group and its affiliates will not support them if they accept support from other super PACs. According to the Times, Law warned a Republican West Virginia Senate candidate (Rep. Shelly Moore Capito) that if her campaign formed its own super PAC, Crossroads would not offer it support.
So even if it appears on the surface that Mr. Rove and the GOP Establishment have taken a pass on primary X, in fact Crossroads, the Chamber and other tentacles of the GOP Establishment may be well present and accounted for by another name. Actively seeking to sabotage conservative candidates exactly as the Breitbart story pinpoints in detail with the Kentucky Senate race.
Let’s be clear.
This isn’t some petty squabble over the personality of candidate A versus candidate B. This is decidedly not about the ineptness of, say, Missouri’s Todd Akin (whom we urged to withdraw after his rape nonsense). Notice that none of the losing moderate candidates from 2012, whether Mitt Romney at the top or in various Senate or House races, are being cited by the Establishment as problems.
This is about whether the Republican Party will abandon its Reagan/conservative base — the base that elected Reagan in two landslides, Reagan’s vice president (running as Reagan’s heir) in a 1988 landslide, the Gingrich Revolution in 1994 and made John Boehner Speaker of the House in 2010 — to become Republican socialists, a paler version of the Obama/statist party. Obama Lite. Unwilling not only to challenge the President’s left-wing agenda but insisting on acceptance of that agenda — just a cheaper, better managed version of it.
This is exactly how the nation got into its $17 trillion debt in the first place — not to mention repeated GOP defeats at the polls — with too many Republicans using their time in office not to keep pledges of limited government but rather to grow the government. And the debt and deficit that went along with it.
As we have noted before, this fight is a mirror image of the battle that occurred in Britain between the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the “wets” — moderates — of her own British Conservative Party.
After the Tories lost the 1974 elections to Labour, in 1975 as she prepared to challenge Edward Heath — the Gerald Ford of British Conservatives — Mrs. Thatcher penned a column for the Daily Telegraph that said, in part, this:
Indeed, one of the reasons for our electoral failure is that people believe too many Conservatives have become socialists already. Britain’s progress towards socialism has been an alternation of two steps forward with half a step back…And why should anyone support a party that seems to have the courage of no convictions?
Americanize Thatcher’s point and this is exactly the problem posed by Mr. Rove, American Crossroads and the Chamber of Commerce.
To Americanize Mrs. Thatcher: Indeed, one of the reasons for our electoral failure is that people believe too many Republicans have become socialists already.
Again, as pointed out before in this space, Mr. Rove is a symbol of this problem. When the Ted Cruz-Mike Lee-led effort to defund Obamacare was gaining steam, the GOP Establishment was out there saying that the way to do this was not to defund Obamacare but to win elections that gave the GOP control of the White House and Congress.
Left unsaid was the fact that once upon a time, when Mr. Rove himself was the White House Deputy Chief of Staff in the Bush 43 era, the GOP did in fact have control of the House and Senate both.
Was, to pick one example, the Department of Education abolished? No. In fact, Mr. Rove boasts in his memoirs of expanding the Department with the passage of No Child Left Behind, legislation that was passed by partnering with then-Senator Ted Kennedy, the “Liberal Lion” of the Senate. And oh yes, a GOP Congressman named…John Boehner.
In other words, given 100% control of the federal government, something Reagan never had, the GOP went out of its way not to limit the growth of the federal government — but to expand it. As it were, the GOP Establishment joined hands with the other side.
This is exactly the problem Margaret Thatcher spent a career fighting. Not to mention Ronald Reagan. As Mrs. Thatcher’s ally, the late Sir Keith Joseph called it, this was the “socialist ratchet” effect. Assuming office on a so-called “conservative” platform, British Conservatives and American Republicans immediately settled in to assimilate the last spurt of government growth from the preceding Labour or Democrat administration — and then expand it.
Which brings us back to these stories in the Wall Street Journal and at Breitbart.
What these stories are exactly describing is a massive war on the conservative base of the GOP in 2014 by the people Ronald Reagan labeled the “fraternal order” or “pastel” Republicans.
And what happens if they succeed? Assuming they don’t ignite a furious backlash that costs the GOP the election?
The Republican Party can control every last seat in Congress after 2014 and the White House in 2016 — and it will not make a lick of difference. Because just as occurred when Rove was a man with clout in the White House and John Boehner was on an earlier ladder of the GOP House leadership passing No Child Left Behind with Teddy Kennedy — the Washington GOP Establishment will do everything they can to fight efforts to limit the size and growth of the federal government.
Why is this?
The answer is as simple as it is blunt. Follow the money.
The major industry — the trough, if you will — in Washington, D.C. is the big, bloated federal government.
And groups like the US Chamber of Commerce wallow in this trough. A few days before Christmas Mark Levin spent some time focusing on this issue, correctly pointing out that the Chamber, the epitome of the GOP Establishment, was “not about capitalism, they’re about cronyism.”
Over at OpenSecrets.org, one learns that the Chamber has been busy funneling its nominally conservative cash to…yes…Democrats. Specifically the Democratic Governors Association and the Democratic State Attorneys General Association. And here in the Los Angeles Times — back in 2010 — was this story headlined:
Republican-leaning U.S. Chamber of Commerce buys ads supporting Democrats
The story went on to say:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has been a powerful ally for Republican candidates in this year’s midterm campaigns, quietly moved across the aisle this week and bought ads touting nearly a dozen Democratic House members.
Mind you, 2010 was the year of the Tea Party rebellion that gave the House GOP its majority and produced Speaker Boehner. And the Chamber of Commerce was out there giving some $1,899,772 for those “nearly a dozen Democratic House members” — all of whom had cast their votes to make Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House.
This kind of thing is exactly why Mark Levin said the Chamber is “not about capitalism, they’re about cronyism” and continued:
We need to shake up that place like it’s never been shaken before. And the problem with groups like the United States Chamber of Commerce is they’re not conservative, they’re about business. They’re not about capitalism, they’re about cronyism. The reason there is a United States Chamber of Commerce is so they can get Congress to cut deals for them, or the White House to cut deals for them, or the bureaucracy to cut deals for them. That’s what they’re there for.
Mark went on to say of the Chamber:
They’re part of the problem. The idea that big companies are necessarily conservative is absurd. Who do you think funds the left? Who do you think funds the Democrat Party? Or, all their little organizations? Big businesses do. Corporatists do. They’re trying to buy favors. That’s what they do…
Mark is correct.
But it would be considerably wrong to leave the impression this is simply about the Chamber of Commerce and American Crossroads.
The fact of the matter is that Washington is laced with Republican lobbyists who are paid big bucks to lobby the federal government for client A or B. They may even give lip service to the idea of “limited government.” But to seriously limit the government would be to cut off a very handsome way of living for these GOP lobbyists. Which is why when serious conservative Republicans — today’s Tea Party members for example — actually make it to Congress, the GOP Establishment gets the cold sweats.
Which brings us back full circle to the real problem, as seen in this story in the New York Times from the period of the 2013 government shutdown headlined:
Business Groups See Loss of Sway Over House G.O.P.
Reports the Times:
WASHINGTON — As the government shutdown grinds toward a potential debt default, some of the country’s most influential business executives have come to a conclusion all but unthinkable a few years ago: Their voices are carrying little weight with the House majority that their millions of dollars in campaign contributions helped build and sustain.
This kind of reality terrifies the GOP Establishment. Listen to this quote from — shocker — the top lobbyist for the Chamber of Commerce, Bruce Josten. The Times quotes him this way, bold print for emphasis supplied here:
“What we want is a conservative business person, but someone who in many respects will be more realistic, in our opinion,” said Bruce Josten, the top lobbyist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the single biggest lobbying organization in Washington.
….“The name calling, blame gaming — using slurs like jihadist, terrorist, cowards, that kind of language — it does not get you to a deal,” Mr. Josten said of the advice he is giving to Democrats and Republicans.”
Catch the phrases? The words “more realistic” and “deal”? This isn’t simply Inside-the-Beltway language — this is the coded language of what Reagan once disparaged as the “fraternal order” Republicans. It is exactly what Margaret Thatcher was referring to when she said “too many Conservatives have become socialists already.”
Mr. Josten, Mr. Rove, the groups they are connected to are speaking the language of Republican socialists.
What Mr. Josten is saying in his own fashion is that he has accepted the “socialist ratchet” method of governing. He wants — and the Chamber he represents wants — no part of reversing this Leftist governing assumption. Josten’s job, the Chamber’s role, is simply to be in Washington and make “deals,” to be “realistic.”
The $17 trillion debt? The $90 trillion in unfunded liabilities? Hey, no big deal. Let’s manicure the next budget deal a tad and move on.
And ever further into the hole.
This was exactly the method of government Ronald Reagan — perhaps one of the first modern Tea Party activists before there was a modern Tea Party — saw as the problem. And that problem is now getting worse by the day, setting up Americans for a massive economic free-fall.
Let’s cut to the chase, shall we?
These various stories that popped up in the Wall Street Journal and at Breitbart over the holidays about Karl Rove, American Crossroads, and the Chamber of Commerce are about, to Americanize Thatcher, nothing more-or-less than Republican Socialism.
They are not about changing Washington — they are Washington. They talk a great game about limited government, but as noted, when they had 100% charge of the federal government in the Bush years they set about not limiting government but expanding government.
The real reason these people will be out there trying to defeat Reaganite conservatives/Tea Partier candidates is precisely because these candidates in victory have shown themselves to be a direct threat to the Washington way of doing business. So job one for the GOP Establishment is to deliberately pick Republican socialist candidates — candidates who are perfectly happy to talk the talk but once in Washington will refuse flatly to do what they promised to do.
As the 2014 election year proceeds, we will have many opportunities to spot these Republican Socialist candidates and their backers at work out there, just as our friends at Breitbart put a spotlight on the behind-the-scenes machinations of American Crossroads in the Kentucky Senate race.
The 2014 elections should be a bumper year for the GOP.
But it will quickly turn to disaster if those who are intent on making this year a victory for Republican Socialism get their way — and in turn drive the Reagan conservative base away from the polls.
Suffice to say?
The battle is on.