EJ Dionne: Turning Shameless Hackery Into A Paycheck For Over 30 Years
In baseball the mark of a great base stealer like Rickey Henderson isn’t that he steals a base when you don’t expect him to run but when you, the pitcher, the catcher and everyone in the stadium knows he’s going to run and you still can’t stop him. He’s just that good at what he does. No shame in getting beat by the best.
In his own way, EJ Dionne of the Washington Post is the Rickey Henderson of liberal hackery. You know his column is going to be stupid, you know he’s going to make a nonsensical argument, there’s simply no way the stupidity of it all can surprise you but…he manages to come up with something even dumber than you thought possible. All you can do is tip your hat…he’s simply the best there is at parroting liberal stupidity.
Today’s entry in the Dionne Canon of Dumb is a lament for the slim chance Jon Huntsman has to win over the extermeists who now run the Republican Party. Dionne sees Huntsman as the GOP’s chance to nominate a David Cameron type conservative (which is to say, not really all that conservative) but fears they may be too stupid to seize this glorious opportunity.
What does a British prime minister have to do with the 2012 Republican primaries? If Huntsman is lucky, quite a lot. The British Conservative Party chose Cameron as its leader in 2005 because it was sick of losing elections and realized it could no longer present itself as an old, cranky, right-wing party. Cameron was Mr. Nice, Mr. Modern, Mr. Moderate and Mr. New. And now he’s in power.
The Republican Party needs a Cameron-style correction, and the country needs a less doctrinaire, less extreme and less angry GOP.
What? The Conservative Party in the UK spent over a decade out of power (after a decade plus long run in power with Thatcher and Major). The GOP spent exactly 2 years (one election cycle) without control of either the House, the Senate or the White House. This is not exactly the longest walk in the woods in the history of politics.
Of course Dionne ignores this and the fact that the GOP comeback was led by conservative revulsion to the ultra-liberal policies of the Obama administrion and the Congress under the complete control of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.
But wait, Dionne is not done! No, the greats always have more.
Most striking about his announcement in front of the Statue of Liberty on Tuesday (other than a slew of snafus, including the misspelling of his first name on a batch of press passes) was the extent to which his speech was all about hope and promise. It offered a lot about who Huntsman wants you to think he is and little about what he’d do. With not all that many changes, it could have been a speech delivered by someone announcing a Democratic primary challenge to President Obama.
So in Dionne’s mind what the GOP really needs is to embrace a conservative Democrat? That’s going to be the salvation of the Republican Party (which as we’ve seen really doesn’t need any saving, thank you very much)?
It’s almost as if a partisan liberal like Dionne is urging a course of actions for Republicans that would hurt them and help Democrats.
No, seriously, he’s just that caring.
But he’s the only Republican waging something other than a standard-issue conservative campaign and the only one directing most of his energies toward voters who don’t take their cues from Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. This will at least earn him attention. It might even win him some votes.
Yes, as he laid out (and so did I elsewhere), Huntsman will get the votes of non-Republicans. See, it’s important to the survival of the GOP that people who aren’t in the GOP be represented in the leadership of the GOP. Media liberal types will talk Huntsman up as the great moderate hope the GOP needs right up until the moment (God forbid) he gets the nomination. Then they will turn on him like they did with McCain.
Since Dionne is clearly an important pundit, you just know he also give similar advice to the Democrats. You know, don’t get too extreme or else it might cost you votes.
Or maybe not.
Here’s Dionne writing about Ned Lamont’s primary challenge to Joe Lieberman in 2006.
Lieberman’s core problem was not even his support for the Iraq war. It was his eagerness to challenge the legitimacy of fellow Democrats who have called attention to the administration’s mistakes. Lieberman, confident of Democratic support, seemed to crave the affection of Republicans most of all.
The statement that did more than anything to power this primary challenge was a comment Lieberman made in December.
“It’s time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be the commander in chief for three more critical years,” Lieberman said, “and that in matters of war, we undermine presidential credibility at our nation’s peril.” The implication that there is something wrong with criticizing George W. Bush is unacceptable to most Democrats, who believe that Bush himself has done the most to undermine his own credibility.
And so, just as political logic pointed to the earlier downfalls of Javits, Case and Kuchel, so does political logic suggest a gloomy outlook for Lieberman.
Elections, however, are about more than logic and historical trends. If Lieberman survives this primary, it will be thanks to voters who would gladly have cast a protest ballot against him but never really wanted him to lose. Such voters — and, yes, I identify with them — are frustrated with Lieberman’s accommodationism but like and respect him and hope he might learn something from Lamont’s challenge.
A Lieberman loss next week could also create distracting problems for Democrats. Lieberman has said he would run as an independent if he lost the primary. This would divert national attention from the Democrats’ central goal of making this fall’s elections a referendum on Bush and the Republican Congress.
As for this primary, the lesson already is clear: A Democratic Party that has been on defense since the 1980s desperately wants to go on offense. Lamont understands that. If Lieberman is to survive this round, he needs to make clear between now and next Tuesday that he’s gotten the message.
So it’s ok to punish Democrats who reach out to Republicans through ideologically motivated primaries to ensure Democratic purity but letting conservatives have sway over the GOP? That’s just dangerous for everyone involved.
Stealing bases, either of the intellectual or baseball variety, requires a certain skill and arrogance. The great ones also have a short memory, an ability to forget all the times they’ve been caught. Dionne writing something stupid? That’s just EJ being EJ.