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Republican Civil War? Our experts respond.
National Review Online ^ | November 05, 2009 | An NRO Symposium

Posted on 11/05/2009 12:03:40 PM PST by neverdem

Republican Civil War?
Our experts respond.

An NRO Symposium

The NY-23 race has political commentators abuzz: Is there a Republican civil war going on? If so, who started it, and can there be a truce? If not, why is everyone saying there is one? National Review Online asked a few close observers of the Right to report in on these rumors of war.

Dede Scozzafava’s record in the New York State legislature was pro-tax, pro-abortion, and anti-marriage. She even accepted the endorsement of ACORN. But she got the local party elders’ support, based on nothing other than their calculated desire to maintain partisan supremacy, regardless of conviction.

Doug Hoffman’s defeat was not about forcing the Republican party to take an “extreme” position. Hoffman was and is clearly in line with the GOP national platforms that gave Ronald Reagan national leadership victories. Reagan, it should be remembered, was the last Republican to carry New York State for president — and he did so twice.

President Lincoln once said, “moral principle is all that unites us.” The Republican party is not a private club with an admissions test but rather a coalition built on principle. GOP leaders can’t stiff-arm their conservative grassroots and expect not to have a fight for the soul of the party. Dede’s effort was not about party-building or coalition politics. It was about political suicide or death.

Sometimes a little bloodletting can save an ill party’s life. Conservatives have contributed to a GOP mid-course correction. We will take the seat back next year a stronger party.

Ken Blackwell, a former Ohio secretary of state, is a senior fellow at the American Civil Rights Union.

While pundits may say the NY-23 race pitted one conservative faction against another, it simply is not the case. Conservatism has never been stronger, or more unified. The war isn’t among the Right but against the disastrous habits of the Left, and one dysfunctional race won’t change that.

Poll after poll shows that the conservative philosophy is more popular than ever, crossing party lines. Even President Obama did his best to run as a center-right candidate in 2008. He promised to address jobs, a necessary war in Afghanistan, even a tax cut. These are conservative principles, and voters are now seeing the difference between rhetoric and reality. The Left yearns for conflict on the Right, so their moderate members aren’t tempted to vote their conscience. We cannot fall into that trap.

The lesson to be learned here for anyone involved in the limited selection process in New York or elsewhere across the nation is that conservatism can come in many forms, but it requires some core elements. It requires job creation through private incentives, not government growth. It requires a robust national-security policy that includes a strategy of success in Afghanistan and American global leadership. It requires health-care solutions that empower individuals, not reckless expansions of entitlements. It requires empowering small businesses, not using arbitration or union ballots to end enterprise entirely.

Conservatives can have regional priorities. They can differ on solutions. That isn’t a civil war, that’s a debate. And conservatives have never wanted to be a part of the debate more. Families are divvying up 2,000-page bills from Capitol Hill to hold elected officials accountable. And, yes, they are asking to see reality versus rhetoric out of their candidates. Conservatives have a destiny. And it isn’t rooted in just one congressional district.

—Rory Cooper is director of strategic communications at the Heritage Foundation.

There is no civil war, but there is much confusion, caused by outside bud-inskies on all sides. Those who consider rural districts of this kind as mere “fly-over” country should let the locals fight it out. They used to call it devolution. The true winner in New York yesterday was Mike Huckabee, who stayed out. A conservative will defeat Owen in McHugh’s old district if Washington keeps its paws inside the Beltway.

(The overall winner last night was Haley Barbour, whose Republican Governors Association now has two more members.)

Words to the wise at the congressional campaign committees: Don’t treat non-incumbents as incumbents. Let the primary voters decide. Place to start: Florida. I miss those hanging chads already.

Alvin S. Felzenberg is author of The Leaders We Deserved and a Few We Didn’t: Rethinking the Presidential Rating Game.

We are not seeing a Republican civil war. We are seeing a rebellion of the middle class against the incipient socialism of Democrats in Washington, D.C.

What happened in New York’s 23rd is that a small group of party leaders made the mistake of thinking it is easier to expand the GOP by abandoning conservative principles than by doing what Ronald Reagan did: Persuade people in the middle that conservative principles are right. Had the bosses nominated Doug Hoffman in the first place, he would be on his way to D.C. today to be sworn in and vote against Obamacare.

It was the New York Times that in a June 3 front-page story — the day after New Jersey Republicans nominated Chris Christie — defined what this election was about: “The fall campaign, one of only two for governor this year (the other is in Virginia), promises to be treated to varying degrees as a referendum on President Obama’s momentous first year or on Republicans’ continued viability — in New Jersey, if not nationally.”

PAGEChristie, said the Times, “did take plainly conservative positions on school vouchers, restrictions on abortion rights, and rolling back regulation, particularly on the environment. At his rally, Mr. Corzine made clear he would go after Mr. Christie on social issues as well as pocketbook ones, saying Republicans indeed wanted smaller government — ‘small enough to slip under your bedroom door’ or to ‘dictate their own religious beliefs to the rest of us.’”

As the Times framed it five months ago, this election was a referendum on Obama and on the viability of socially conservative Republicans. Pro-life Republicans won governorships in New York and New Jersey and a pro-life Conservative party candidate drove a pro-abortion Republican right out of the race in New York’s 23rd. That’s the story.

— Terry Jeffrey is editor-at-large of Human Events.

Speaking of a civil war, it is helpful to recall that the Republican party was founded in opposition to “those twin relics of barbarism — Polygamy, and Slavery.” True to its heritage, the Republican party now stands as the bulwark against the Democratic party’s totalizing impulse to assert control over American life from birth to death and the residual zones where life and property remain private.

With a twinkle in his eye, Bill Buckley used to characterize a liberal as someone who wanted to reach into your shower and adjust the temperature of the water. He was, as usual, onto something, as we see in this liberal hour.

There aren’t many conservatives or Republicans who don’t understand the imperative of resisting the project in which Obama and the Democrats are engaged. Republican party leaders in New York’s 23rd unfortunately found one, but congressional Republicans have maintained a remarkably united front in opposition to Obama. Rumors of a civil war among Republicans have been sown mostly by the media adjunct of the Democratic party with the intent of dampening opposition to the liberal project by stigmatizing it as extreme. 

Buckley’s rule of prudence dictated the support of the rightward-most viable candidate in any given race. Once Republicans learned that Scozzafava was a liberal, and that they had a viable conservative alternative in Doug Hoffman, they left Scozzafava in droves. In my view, the wish is father to the thought that the story of New York’s 23rd congressional district special election represents a civil war among Republicans.  

— Scott W. Johnson is a Minneapolis attorney and contributor to the Power Line blog.

The most insistent claimants of a GOP civil war are those who have the most to gain by (mis)defining the party as extremist-excluders. Though Democrats outnumber Republicans, independents outnumber Democrats. Neither party can win without independents. The problem for Democrats is that indies consistently self-identify as conservative, intensely oppose Obama’s general big-government worldview, and also oppose his individual priority policies (stimulus, health care). Because Democrats repel indies on policy, they must attract them on politics, that is, the politics of destruction of the opposition.

PAGERepublicans should resist taking the bait. Don’t get distracted defending our honor against the myriad Democratic definitions of extremism: homophobia, misogyny, racism, sophism, philistinism, greed, warmongering, mean-spirited hyper-partisanship, etc. Promote our commonsense, time-honored principles, which are irrefutably inclusive and mainstream. Independents side with conservatives on principle and policy, and do not see themselves or their beliefs through the Democratic/liberal prism. Extremism to these critical voters is a record like Dede Scozzafava’s — stimulus, card check, and high taxes — which is why they flocked to Hoffman. So when liberals call candidates like Hoffman or the policies he advocated extreme, indies get offended and, yes, angry.

Hoffman may have lost the battle, but he won the war. There is now one more conservative Democrat to stop Obama statism, while Republicans keep working their way back home. Indies will naturally gravitate to the GOP if we just stay on point calling the liberals out for who they are and what they stand for. We must reassert the principles of constitutionalism and the practical policies that flow from them, and we must do so in confident — not strident — voices, with smiles on our faces. We need not embark on a cross-country primary-ing crusade, but we also don’t need to support Dede-Republicans.

— Mary Matalin is a Republican strategist and consultant.

There is no civil war going on in the GOP. Even the brush fires we see are pretty tame.

In fact, during the last year in the political wilderness, Republican recriminations have been, for the most part, fairly minor and certainly manageable. There is no broad-based effort to tear down the pillars of the modern GOP. The GOP remains a center-right party — and any effort to make it otherwise would be silly and suicidal.

The reasons a lot of people are saying NY-23 was evidence of a coming crack-up within the party are that (a) they don’t know what actually happened on the ground and (b) they have an interest in pushing such a narrative.

What happened in NY-23 was sui generis. A very bad nominee was replaced by a novice who did not have the benefit of the imprimatur of the party at a time when it would have helped. If he’d had that, he probably would have won.

The only important lesson, I think, is that Republicans should select as their nominees people who reflect the basic principles of the party. When they don’t, they’re asking for trouble.

I understand that what voters in Vermont are looking for is different than what voters in Mississippi are looking for. The same model doesn’t sell well in every state. But Dede Scozzafava held views that made it difficult to take her Republican bone fides seriously, and the fact that she dropped out and endorsed a Democrat simply highlighted that fact.

What happened yesterday in Virginia and New Jersey dwarfs what happened in NY-23. It was a very good night for Republicans — and a very bad night for Democrats, Obama, and his entire statist agenda.

Peter Wehner, formerly deputy assistant to President Bush, is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Editorial; Politics/Elections; US: New York
KEYWORDS: gopcivilwar; hoffman; newyork; republicancivilwar; rinos

1 posted on 11/05/2009 12:03:41 PM PST by neverdem
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To: neverdem

MARY MATALIN, after she married James CarEvil I lost respect for her, and don’t trust her.

2 posted on 11/05/2009 12:08:09 PM PST by stockpirate ("if my thought-dreams could be seen. They'd probably put my head in a guillotine" Dylan)
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To: neverdem

There is no civil war. The grassroots exposed and eliminated the traitor that had infiltrated our ranks. That RINO from NY-23 was a backstabbing double agent.

3 posted on 11/05/2009 12:09:17 PM PST by Truth is a Weapon (Truth, it hurts soooo good!)
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To: neverdem

There will be nothing civil about it as long as the RNC continues to try to eviscerate or water down the conservative heart and soul of the Grand Old Party.

4 posted on 11/05/2009 12:10:39 PM PST by John 3_19-21 (Count the cost, freedom is not free.)
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To: neverdem
The “civil war” is just wishful thinking by Dims and MSMers, so they can deny what's coming in 2010.
5 posted on 11/05/2009 12:21:00 PM PST by colorado tanker (What's it all about, Barrrrry? Is it just for the power, you live?)
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To: neverdem
The “civil war” is just wishful thinking by Dims and MSMers, so they can deny what's coming in 2010.
6 posted on 11/05/2009 12:21:15 PM PST by colorado tanker (What's it all about, Barrrrry? Is it just for the power, you live?)
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To: neverdem

Tuesday was just part 1 in NY23. Owens, like every other member of the House, is up for re-election in 2010. In 2010 there will be a GOP primary. Hopefully, Hoffman or some other conservative wins that and it’ll be bye, bye DeDe in 2009...bye, bye Owens in 2010.

7 posted on 11/05/2009 12:24:39 PM PST by RonnieFan
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To: neverdem

IT proved that a conservative political newbie, from outside of the district, will pull twice as many votes as a liberal political insider.

And this noob didn’t even have good answers for local issue questions. From the accounts on the ground there, that is what hosed him, not any endorsement.

Palin and NY23 both prove that the message is very powerful, even if the messengers aren’t quite ready for prime time.

8 posted on 11/05/2009 12:31:40 PM PST by TWohlford
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To: colorado tanker

“The “civil war” is just wishful thinking by Dims and MSMers, so they can deny what’s coming in 2010.”

Well, kinda. The MSM just wanted to juice up the story to get better ratings and higher circulation. As you might seen in the TV ratings, it didn’t work.

9 posted on 11/05/2009 12:33:37 PM PST by TWohlford
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To: neverdem

I understand that these guys want to refute the idea that there is a civil war in the Republican Party that benefits the Democrats. But most of them go too far in insisting that there’s no real problem. There is a serious problem. The leadership is broken, and has been broken for decades, although Reagan brought them partway back for a time.

These guys are on the cocktail circuit, so they don’t want to distress the big givers of cocktails. But the fact remains that there is a serious problem. Not the conservatives who are revolting, but a leadership that is effete, rudderless, corrupt, and decadent.

If they don’t straighten out—and I’m not sure if they even understand what he problem is—then the Republican Party is finished, and will be replaced by something better.

Civil war? No. Suicide at the top of the party through decadence and senescence? Possibly.

10 posted on 11/05/2009 12:49:25 PM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: neverdem
Dede Scozzafava’s record in the New York State legislature was pro-tax, pro-abortion, and anti-marriage.

I was heartened when Scozzafava dropped out of the race. I was appalled when she turned her back to the Republican Party and threw her support to a Democrat Marxist. It demonstrates the lack of integrity and character typical of the Marxist party, and lack of loyalty to the Party that sponsored and paid for her campaign. Personally, I want nothing to do with such low class people. She is typical of the Democrat party. What kind of morons would support someone so clearly devoid of character in the first place?

11 posted on 11/05/2009 12:53:23 PM PST by olezip
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To: neverdem

Democrat civil war if they stand with Joe Liberman.

Call Lincoln of AR, Landreau of LA, Nelson of NE, Pryor Of AR, Dorgan and Conrad of ND, Tester and Baucus of MT and Bennet of Co. They are running scared.

12 posted on 11/05/2009 1:30:26 PM PST by CPT Clay (Pick up your weapon and follow me.)
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To: neverdem

This Republican doesn’t want anything except for the leaders in Washington to stick to the platform.

I am putting them on notice that if they run a candidate that isn’t conservative that I will not vote for that candidate just because they are Republican. I will vote third party or Democratic if the candidates are conservative.
The most dangerous candidate - more dangerous than a lefty Democrat is a Rhino Republican.

13 posted on 11/05/2009 1:44:33 PM PST by ODDITHER (HAT)
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To: Truth is a Weapon
There is no civil war. The grassroots exposed and eliminated the traitor that had infiltrated our ranks.


.....The RINOS are infiltrators just like Iran was/is in Iraq.

There is no Republican civil war just like the "civil war" the press was having orgasms about was in truth an infiltration.

The RINOs are not Republicans, they are RATS in disguise. They must be thrown out.

14 posted on 11/05/2009 4:29:10 PM PST by SteamShovel (When hope trumps reality, there is no hope at all.)
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To: AdmSmith; Berosus; bigheadfred; Convert from ECUSA; dervish; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Fred Nerks; ...
Thanks neverdem (grabbed this off nd's "my comments" page).
15 posted on 11/06/2009 4:06:37 PM PST by SunkenCiv ( Jan 3, 2004__Profile updated Monday, January 12, 2009)
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To: stockpirate
MARY MATALIN, after she married James CarEvil I lost respect for her, and don’t trust her.

Carville/Matalin keep politics out of the home. I saw an "alternative press" article about them a few years ago, they granted total access to a guy who followed them around and mapped out their deal. They run a decent home, and they keep their politics at the office (which includes media, of course).

Politically, you're right not to trust Matalin. She's very Bushy, ran 41's 1992 campaign, and in 2000 at the GOP Nat'l Convention she was Bush 43's advance woman when he went to the Log Cabins and politicked them very heavily over a closed dinner while simultaneously the Christian Coalition got Karl Rove as the Bush campaign's stand-in. Which should have told everybody in politics something right there.

At that dinner, Matalin went on the record with gay media who were present (the only media who were there, AFAICT) as saying that she, and by implication Gov. Bush, was in favor of "gay marriage" </oxymoron> as being "fair", and opposition to same as being "so unfair". Fact. Look it up on, which is where the account of the dinner ran. I kept a copy on media.

This handholding between Gov. Bush and the lavender Left went on until the GOP base held Pres. Bush's feet to the fire over DOMA. Then the Republican Unity Coalition (a grown-up version of GLSEN and PFLAG) broke up and the phones finally went dead between Gay RNC Central and the White House.

Keep in mind that Bush appointed gays to responsible positions as a political signal, and a lot of top GOP people were and still are gay -- incl. Ken Mehlman, recent RNC chairman. Oliver Stone either outed or smeared Karl Rove as gay in his movie "W.", and of course House Speaker (and Illinois Republican -- I mention them because they were the supine, spineless bunch who let Barack Obama waltz unmolested into the U.S. Senate) Denny Hastert never touched the ephebophile Pubbie Representative Mark Foley until the Gay 'Rats outed him in 2006 as their conservative-base-suppression October surprise that year. (Foley's sudden outing was totally a "lavender underground" political move, executed by a gay ex-staffer of Foley's in coordination with various gay and Soros-related [but perhaps I repeat myself] groups.)

16 posted on 11/06/2009 6:46:45 PM PST by lentulusgracchus
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