"Sometimes party loyalty asks too much," said JFK.
For Sarah Palin, party loyalty in New York's 23rd congressional district asks too much. Going rogue, Palin endorsed Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman over Republican Dede Scozzafava.
On Oct. 1, Scozzafava was leading. Today, she trails Democrat Bill Owens and is only a few points ahead of Hoffman, as Empire State conservatives defect to vote their principles, not their party.
Newt Gingrich stayed on the reservation, endorsing Scozzafava, who is pro-choice and pro-gay rights, and hauls water for the unions.
Scourged by the right, Newt accused conservatives of going over the hill in the battle to save the republic, just to get a buzz on. "If we are in the business about feeling good about ourselves while our country gets crushed, then I probably made the wrong decision." How Scozzafava would prevent America's being "crushed" was unexplained.
The 23rd recalls a famous Senate race 40 years ago. Rep. Charles Goodell was picked by Gov. Nelson Rockefeller to fill the seat of Robert Kennedy in 1968. To hold onto it, Goodell swerved sharp left, emerging as an upstate Xerox copy of Jacob Javits, the most liberal Republican in the Senate.
In 1970, Goodell got both the GOP and Liberal Party nominations, and faced liberal Democrat Richard Ottinger. This left a huge vacuum into which Conservative Party candidate James Buckley, brother of William F., smartly moved.
Assessing the field, the Nixon White House concluded that, with liberals split, Goodell could not win. But Buckley might. Signals were flashed north that loyalty to the president was not inconsistent with voting for Buckley. To send the signal in the clear, Vice President Agnew described Charlie Goodell to a New Orleans newspaper as "the Christine Jorgensen of the Republican Party."
The former George Jorgensen, Christine had undergone the most radical sex-change operation in recorded history.
Liberals went berserk, calling on New Yorkers to rally to Goodell, who began surging, at Ottinger's expense. Buckley scooted between them both to win. Hoffman may also. But even if he does not, Palin, a conservative of the heart, did the right thing.
And the GOP has been sent a necessary message.
For, according to Gallup, 40 percent of Americans now identify as conservatives -- only 20 percent as Republicans. If the GOP is not the conservative party, it will never be America's Party.