Is this a Reagan moment or a Goldwater moment?
David Plouffe was on “Meet the Press” this weekend, and his analysis of the mess in New York's 23rd District was pretty spot-on:
DAVID GREGORY: [Sarah Palin] endorsed the -- the independent, more conservative candidate. And now we've got the Republican candidate who stepped aside.
PLOUFFE: So, a centrist Republican has been ridden out of that race. And I think what you're gonna see in the coming months -- if not years is -- Sarah Palin -- you know, by the way, she's kind of playing the role of Pied Piper in the Republican Party, which is something I'm quite comfortable with. So, Sarah Palin, the other Republican candidates -- who are likely to run. The Limbaughs and Becks of the world are basically hanging a "Moderates need not apply" sign outside the Republican National Committee headquarters.
Nancy Scozzafava's decision to drop out of the race isn't so important in terms of New York's 23rd. It's important in terms of the composition of future candidates in the Republican Party. Bill Kristol has a wan effort to look on the bright side -- people thought Ronald Reagan represented a schism, too! -- but this is happening in context of a popular Democratic president, an electorate where the young are trending monolithically Democrat, a country where Latino immigrants are becoming an ever more important political force, and a Republican Party that's staggeringly unpopular.
Radical convulsions in a political party can represent one of two things. Either reformers are pushing the party towards the center of the electorate -- and that can mean a rightward push, as with Reagan, or a centrist push, as with Clinton -- or they are capturing it and taking it further away. This looks like the latter, to me. It's not so much that Republicans are mistaking the enthusiasm of a rump faction for the preferences of the electorate -- the Republican Party tried to back Scozzafava, after all -- as they're powerless to resist.
All of which suggests that the right historical analogue may not be Ronald Reagan but Barry Goldwater. And though Goldwater's campaign led to Reagan's later rise, it also led to a historic pickup for the Democrats and the creation of Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, PBS, food stamps, welfare ...
Photo credit: By Frank Johnston/The Washington Post. Michael Jackson may not have a role in this post, but that was too good a photo to pass up.
November 2, 2009; 6:14 PM ET
Save & Share: Previous: Budget context
Next: Massachusetts provides evidence that health-care reform lowers insurance premiums
Posted by: bmull | November 2, 2009 6:38 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: MrDo64 | November 2, 2009 6:45 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: spiffymcbang | November 2, 2009 7:03 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: davestickler | November 2, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: shanehuang | November 2, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: scarlota | November 2, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: HerooftheBeach | November 2, 2009 9:00 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Jasper99 | November 2, 2009 9:30 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Jasper99 | November 2, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: rjw88 | November 2, 2009 9:53 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: NS12345 | November 3, 2009 1:24 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: colby1983 | November 3, 2009 7:21 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: bakho | November 3, 2009 8:18 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: truth5 | November 3, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: ashimm | November 3, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.