Bob Bartley, where are you?
When Robert Bartley was in charge, The Wall Street Journal editorial page was the gold standard of conservative thought. It can still be good, sometimes quite good -- but it is no longer true north for the movement. Too many times it has delivered product that makes conservatives shake their heads in confusion, even disbelief.
Their post-election analysis on Tuesday evening was one such moment.
The editors declare that while a Democrat won in Virginia and a Republican in New Jersey, "the party that should do the most soul-searching is the GOP." Agreed.
They state that it is "embarrassing" that Ken Cuccinelli lost to Terry McAuliffe, "a carpetbagger and crony capitalist from central casting." Correctomundo.
"The defeat has many fathers," they write, "including incumbent Republican Bob McDonnell, who ... got himself into a political-gift scandal that made it hard for the GOP to run an ethics campaign again McAuliffe." Yes, and I'd go further. Even if he weren't mired in scandal, McDonnell would have been useless. As his "goodbye" present to Virginia, he delivered the single largest tax increase in state history: No one wants anything to do with him now.
If only The Wall Street Journal had stopped there, but no. "Mr. Cuccinelli's supposed friends in the tea party also stabbed him in the back by pushing the government shutdown."
Ad hominem ("supposed friends"), ad hominem ("stabbed him in the back"), untrue ("pushing the government shutdown"). That's one doozy of a butchered sentence.
But what comes next is even better. "About 30 percent of Virginia voters live in the Washington, D.C., suburbs that are packed with government employees, and the Democrat won that suburban vote by 62 percent to 33 percent according to the exit polls."
My first reaction is to ask: So what? For many years Northern Virginia has trended Democrat because of government workers. How did the shutdown affect the vote?
My second reaction is different.
You see, that's the sentence you'll read if you go on the site now. But that's not what the editors wrote Tuesday night.
"About 30 percent of Virginia voters live in the Washington, D.C., suburbs that are packed with government employees, (SET ITAL) and nearly 90 percent of voters in exit polls blamed Republicans for the shutdown (END ITAL)."