A non-ideological national media would acknowledge that both Democrats and Republicans over the last several decades have shunned centrism and embraced a bolder ideological approach. A nonpartisan press corps would report that self-identified conservatives outnumber self-identified liberals in a landslide. But our liberal media are transparently partisan. Instead we get two very differing and self-serving portraits. The Republicans are in a "civil war," on a "disastrous turn toward extremism." For Democrats, their embrace of hard-core leftists is an "opportunity" and revenge of the "moderates" upset by "deeply unmoderate" conservatives.
Conservatives have heard enough of this siren song over the years to ignore it. The same cannot be said for the Republican Party, with its Helen Keller approach to the obvious. In presidential elections, every time Republicans nominate the kind of moderation-embracing D.C. dealmaker the media would select for them -- think Bob Dole or John McCain -- they've been trounced.
Yet they continue heeding the advice of The New York Times by endorsing the likes of Scozzafava. How thoroughly embarrassing it was for them when Scozzafava petulantly left the race and endorsed the Democrat in this district. She was even less than a Republican In Name Only.
The biggest head-scratcher in this game was Newt Gingrich, who embraced this Democrat-in-GOP-clothing as the "best" the Republicans could do. Is this the way Gingrich built a majority in 1994, by identifying a "revolution" of Arlen Specter wannabes across America? No. Through his lectures and cassette tapes, Gingrich built a cadre of conservative candidates who could stand behind the idea of rolling back an overweening federal government. He didn't lead a slithering surge of centrists eager to go to Washington and stick their fingers in the wind to protect their own careers.
There can be a robust debate over the advisability of a supporting moderate, even liberal Republicans over liberal Democrats in blue-state districts. What is settled, however, is that conservatives will no longer blindly embrace "moderates" like Scozzafava when there's an open seat in a staunchly Republican district.
Every Republican should know that there are two divisive forces in the Republican Party that always threaten to break it apart and ruin its chances. The first is the insincere consultants in the "news" media that try to rule it from the outside. The second is the consultants in the party that listen to them.
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