The Problem With The Republican Revolution Redux: It's The Crazy, Stupid
I keep seeing these expert handicappers arguing that Democrats will take significant losses in 2010. And I think they could be right, especially if the President doesn't take control of the debate on a number of issues and deliver the policies Democratic partisans thought they voted for last November.
But in the back of my mind, I have this nagging feeling that Republicans are simply too completely crazy to compete seriously with any halfway decent political party for the votes of independents. People have short memories, but not that short, and they well remember the disaster of the Bush years. And the Republican bench is filled with avowedly insane or unspeakably corrupt people.
Take the Virginia Governor's race, for example. GOP candidate Bob McDonnell, who until now had been atop the polls, is a Regent University type (Monica Goodling's alma mater) whose worldview in his mid-30s was completely out of the mainstream of American life (but right at home in the Republican Party):
At age 34, two years before his first election and two decades before he would run for governor of Virginia, Robert F. McDonnell submitted a master's thesis to the evangelical school he was attending in Virginia Beach in which he described working women and feminists as "detrimental" to the family. He said government policy should favor married couples over "cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators." He described as "illogical" a 1972 Supreme Court decision legalizing the use of contraception by unmarried couples.
The 93-page document, which is publicly available at the Regent University library, culminates with a 15-point action plan that McDonnell said the Republican Party should follow to protect American families -- a vision that he started to put into action soon after he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.
During his 14 years in the General Assembly, McDonnell pursued at least 10 of the policy goals he laid out in that research paper, including abortion restrictions, covenant marriage, school vouchers and tax policies to favor his view of the traditional family. In 2001, he voted against a resolution in support of ending wage discrimination between men and women.
The campaign for Creigh Deeds, the Democrat in the race, is all over this document and for good reason. It wasn't a youthful indiscretion, but a blueprint for radical theocratic governance, upon which McDonnell acted in the House of Delegates.
Another example: New Jersey GOP candidate Chris Christie, a Rove protege who used his US Attorneys office in New Jersey for partisan ends and held himself to a different standard of ethics than those he prosecuted:
My point is this: Republicans can't hide their crazy. In fact, they have to let little bits of it out to win their primaries. And yet these ethical lapses and statements of radical views massively turn off independent voters. In the abstract, on the generic ballot, Republicans might look good to those swamped by the anti-Obama lies of the noise machine. Up close, Republicans still have major problems with the electorate. So I'm not convinced that the losses next year will even hit double digits in the House, especially if Democrats get their act together and do something tangible for the American people.
...That said, I do think the Democrats will lose seats next year, mainly because most Presidents lose seats.