Friday, February 19, 2010

Quote of the Day: Orrin Hatch on Tea Parties and the GOP

Sen. Hatch, quoted in The Salt Lake Tribune:

If we fractionalize the Republican Party, we are going to see more liberals elected.

What Hatch wants is for the teabaggers to sign up with the GOP, that is, for the Tea Party "movement" to be, essentially, a subsidiary of the Republican Party.

Now, of course, the "movement" is generally Republican in outlook, if well out on the extremist right, but of course the Republican Party is increasingly extremist, with the right-wing fringe becoming more and more the mainstream. 

But there is also a good deal of independence among the teabaggers, and so, like Palin, what Hatch is doing is trying to boost his party's electoral fortunes by bringing the party and the movement together. The difference is that for Palin the match would be firmly one of like and like, and she's selling the GOP as a party the teabaggers can fully get with, as her GOP is a party in line with the Tea Party "movement," party and movement with common principles, whereas Hatch, the conservative but also establishment and somewhat realist Republican, seems to be threatening the teabaggers, blaming them for dividing the GOP and advising them to get with the party, and with its electoral objectives, or else, "else" meaning more liberals elected.

I'd say they're both right:

Palin is right that Republicans and teabaggers have a lot in common and that the latter should join up with the former.

Hatch is right that Republicans can't win, or won't win as much, if they're divided, that teabagger attacks on Republicans are weakening the party, and that, basically, teabaggers should put pragmatism before principle.

And yet I can't help but think that Hatch, however conservative he may be, is out of touch both with his own party and with what is happening more broadly on the right.

He propses, for example, that "extreme conservatives," to quote the Tribune, are to blame for Sen. Gordon Smith's defeat to Democrat Jeff Merkley in Oregon in 2008: "Hatch said if the Tea Party had not backed a constitutionalist candidate in that race, Smith wouldn't have lost."

Fair enough, but what Hatch doesn't seem to get, at least here, is that the teabaggers, or many of them, don't want to put the interests of the Republican Party before their own ideological objectives. They won't want to sell out, that is, even to a party that has embraced them, that seemingly will do anything for their support, and that clearly, to them, offers the much lesser of two evils. Remember what happened in NY-23 last year? This isn't a movement that wants to compromise, and, while it may eventually come to dominate the GOP, it won't give in and won't accept establishment calculation.

Even Palin seems to get that. And that's saying something.

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