Reagan Was Wrong
As GOP primary fights continue to pop up there’s going to be a lot of talk of who is sufficiently conservative and who isn’t. Like many things involving the GOP people will often seek to invoke the authority of Ronald Reagan.
Senator John Cornyn fresh off finding himself in a primary against longshot opponent Congress Steve Stockman, does just this.
I don’t know how we got off on this track, where some people are welcome in our party and some people are not. Hence my reference to Ronald Reagan’s line, “What do you call someone who agrees with you eight times out of ten? An ally, not a twenty-percent traitor.” Well, we’re at a point where you can agree with someone 98 percent of the time, but they think of you as a 2 percent traitor, which is just an impossible standard.
Put aside Cornyn’s implied purity for a moment, the underlying Reagan position is just wrong.
The Supreme Court issues a lot of 9-0, 8-1, 7-2 decisions. It’s the 20-30% of cases that are 5-4 that are the ones that generally hold the greatest importance to most people.
Am I supposed to consider that because 70 or 80% of the time Justice Scalia and Justice Kennedy agree that they are equally reliable and useful to conservatives? Of course not.
It’s when and how you break ranks that determines if you are an ally or someone who needs to be replaced. Someone like Lindsey Graham who goes out of his way to make life difficult for conservatives may vote with them 80 or even 90% of the time but the damage he does on those other occasions outweighs the rest. The same goes for Senators like Alexander and Corker who openly work with Democrats against to interests of the majority of Republicans on many issues.
And sometimes a single vote carries so much weight, that yes, it can be the basis of a primary challenge.
I don’t know that primarying Conyers is a wise choice (I also don’t think it will come to much) but let’s not pretend that meeting the bare minimum standards of acceptability should be enough if you can do better.