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The GOP's primary-night putsch

If the United States had a slightly different political tradition -- and possibly some more palm trees -- what happened Tuesday night would have been called a putsch. With something like 350 million people in the country, only a handful of them went to the polls and in only two states took over the Republican Party. In both Delaware and New York, where the Tea Party won big, the scene was set for a GOP debacle in November. With a little more Sarah Palin, the Democrats could rule forever.

In New York State, the GOP's establishment candidate, the oozy Rick Lazio, was whipped by an upstate real estate tycoon named Carl Paladino. Lazio is a former congressman who lost a senate race to Hillary Clinton, and although he is not much of a politician, he tried his demagogic best to win this race. He mounted commercial opposing the Islamic center proposed for near Ground Zero and came as close as possible to drawing his sword and marching to slay the wicked Saracen. It was all -- goody, goody -- for naught. Of the 19 or so million people in New York State, Lazio got the votes of about 167,000 of them.

As for Paladino, he is, of course, angry as hell, not going to take it anymore and out to destroy the establishment -- as long as his real estate business does not lose any government contracts. He got about 273,000 votes, which is somewhat short of impressive. It is sufficient, however, to put the party of Theodore Roosevelt, Tom Dewey, Jake Javits and, pardon the sacrilege, Al D’Amato into the hands of a man who is probably best known for sending pornographic/racist jokes to some lucky people on the Internet. In November, he will face Andrew Cuomo, the son of the former governor. If Cuomo loses this race, pigs really will fly.

The same thing happened -- and will happen -- in Delaware.

There, the Tea Party mounted another coup with the victory of Christine O'Donnell over Michael Castle. O'Donnell is yet another fringe figure who has the distinct honor of being denounced by her former campaign manager for being a faux conservative and for using funds from a previous campaign for personal expenses. This was denied, but no matter what the truth, O'Donnell seems a bit too reactionary for Delaware, which few people noticed was even a state until the recent prominence of Vice President Joe Biden, a former senator. O'Donnell's victory is almost sure to give the senate seat to the Democrats, thus helping to ensure continued Democratic control of the Senate.

The Republican Party is in pretty much the same position that the Democrats were in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The Democrats had a zealous leftist minority -- even some communists -- who were unacceptable to the electorate but had achieved a certain prominence. Mainstream Democrats mounted a purge, and the leftists split off into the Progressive Party. (Racists and others formed yet another party and chose Strom Thurmond as their standard bearer. Harry S. Truman threaded this needle and won.)

The GOP needs to do what the Democrats did. Their Tea Party candidates are unacceptable to the American electorate. They have put forward a procession of candidates whose only qualification is anger. They are against almost anything you can name, including the 21st century. They proudly sport the endorsement of Sarah Palin, who cares not one whit about her party and the electability of its candidates. Despite the apparent unpopularity of Barack Obama and hostility to Washington, she will ensure the viability of exactly the system she professes to abhor. Watch those Mamma Grizzlies. They’re gonna eat the GOP.

By Richard Cohen  | September 15, 2010; 10:01 AM ET
Categories:  Cohen  | Tags:  Richard Cohen  
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Next: Mitch McConnell better beware Jim DeMint


Clip this column.
Only thing gonna be eaten are these words by their author.

Posted by: happyacres | September 15, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Cohen, another sign of WaPo's commitment to becoming the latest hate-filled leftist rag.

Posted by: anna_78750 | September 15, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, ok. Please congratulate future Senator O'Donnell and Governer Paladino.


Facts are true whether you like them or not. Sarah Palin is destroying the Republican party.

Posted by: chad6 | September 15, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Cohen is right on this one. Dems were cheering loudly with O'Donnell's victory.

Posted by: wmwilliams14 | September 15, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

I think you are right. I HOPE you are right. And I hope that President Obama has the good sense to LOL privately.

God Bless America.

Posted by: bloommarko4 | September 15, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Lazio is still on the Conservative line in New York so the right wing vote will be split in the General election. If Cuomo can't win under these conditions, no Democrat will win anywhere. Delaware may be a different matter.

Posted by: publius1 | September 15, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

"Clip this column.
Only thing gonna be eaten are these words by their author."

No, I'm going to clip your delusional, arrogant comment, which is precisely the attitude that confirms every point the author made.

Posted by: Koko3 | September 15, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse


actually, i have a longtime friend in DE, who told me last evening (about midnight) that Mike Castle is about to announce as an INDEPENDENT.
IF he is correct, this means that "the nobody", that is representing the LEFTIST lunatic fringe of the DIMocRAT party may run THIRD!

IF that happens (and Tom has been active in state politics for over 3 decades & KNOWS the voters of DE far better than i do), the DIMocRATS are DONE in DE, just as they are IRRELEVANT in the Mountain West, the South & the Midwest.

tell me, "OH GREAT ORACLE", exactly HOW will the DIMocRATS ever WIN the WH or a MAJORITY of Congress with New England, the "Rust Belt" & the Left coast states and nothing more than those FEW states?


yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | September 15, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

tea party candidates talk about restoring the constitution and lost rights. exactly what rights did they lose and what parts of the constitution are usurped? they talk about cutting spending, but where would they cut it? all i hear are platitudes from them and the words are followed like some new religion. the party is not diverse but made up of angry (dare i say) white individuals who fear losing control of the establishment. name one instance in history where a hit squad focused all of its attention on proving a sitting potus is not an american? they complain about socialism but want their medicaid and social security. yet the new crop of politicians want to end not only those but employment insurance, dept of education, restore rights for businesses discriminate, get rid of the 14th and 17th amendment, threaten violence on members of congress when they don't get their way, and to blow up the deficit by $700 billion, fighting for the wealthyist 2-5% of the country while screwing the middle class. these are truly the people you want to govern

be careful what you wish for.

Posted by: ttanner509 | September 15, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

sorry, that should read wealthiest...

Posted by: ttanner509 | September 15, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

The GOP needs to do what the Democrats did.


How? The establishment politicians like Castle lost because the base (as well as the Tea Partiers) hold them just as responsible for our current mess as they do the Democrats.

Perhaps the GOP are already started when Dick Armey of Freedomworks didn't endorse anyone in Delaware.

Posted by: bbface21 | September 15, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Republicans embrace another no-nothing candidate who espouses simplistic, dogmatic ideology while Democrats have their sleeves rolled up fixing the mess that Republicans made.

Further to the Right? Further into permanent minority irrelevance!

Posted by: thebobbob | September 15, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse


As in Saturday Night Live speak: Really? Really Richard? Not acceptable to the AMERICAN PEOPLE! As in you, Mr. Cohen now speak for the American people from your perch in Washington, DC? Good luck with that!

Posted by: JackReacher | September 15, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Also, Putsch? Sounds like you are equating Tea Party people with Nazis, Fascists and other not so nice people. Tread lightly my friend. The general rule nowadays is the loser is the one that screams nazi/fascist first. Looks like you lost, you old fool.

Posted by: JackReacher | September 15, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

In 2006 and 2008, people were mad at the Republicans for wrecking the country. They still are. Now they are mad at the Democrats too, for doing too much of what the Republicans did. The Republicans thought that meant they were automatically forgiven and made winners. Wrong. They are both fired. That is what is most important here. Exactly what these particular candidates will do or who they are is less important than the rejection of both Democrats and Republicans. We hate them both. They are both fired.

Posted by: MarkThomason | September 15, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Also, Putsch? Sounds like you are equating Tea Party people with Nazis, Fascists and other not so nice people. Tread lightly my friend. The general rule nowadays is the loser is the one that screams nazi/fascist first. Looks like you lost, you old fool.

Posted by: JackReacher


Why not? Liberals have been trying to use the Nazi smear on Tea Partiers for months and will continue to do so.

Posted by: bbface21 | September 15, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

JackReacher; bbface24; all,

over the last 4 days, a half-dozen LEFTIST lunatics have called me a racist, a fascist, a nazi & one called me a communist.

frankly, i have to say that the LIBs on this site are the biggest collection of misfits, bigots, bedwetters, weirdos, thumbsuckers, IDIOTS & kooks that i've lately seen.

to ALL of you DIMocRATS: fyi, i'm NOT a "white person" & YOUR own LEFTIST propagandists say that "minority group members" CANNOT be racists.

also don't you think that fascist/communist/nazi labels make the person doing the "name-calling" (at least in my case) LOOK really STUPID & clue-LESS?

the TRUTH is that i'm a small county TP coordinator, who is retired from the Army & these days, a part-time teacher at a small college. - thus, i'm NOBODY "important".

like most of our TP members, i'm also over 50YO & ANGRY at the MESS that the fools/bigots/half-wits/radicals/lunatics/union bosses & other similar creatures, who are members of the DIMocRATS coalition of IDIOTS & HATERS, have made.

finally, the TEA PARTY is growing at a rate of 6-8% a WEEK & we soon will be larger than the DIMocRATS & the GOP are combined.
furthermore, we TP folks are going to get people elected, who will TRY to fix the MESS that BHO & his coven of radicals have made of our economy/country.

yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | September 15, 2010 10:39 PM | Report abuse

to ALL,

btw, those who constantly try "to play the race card" should find & read the child's story called THE LITTLE BOY WHO CRIED WOLF.

the blunt truth is that NOBODY in the TP movement CARES any more what names that you call us, as we all regard you as FOOLS, LIARS, IRRELEVANT & "not bright enough to come in out of the rain"
our candidates are going to DESTROY the DIMocRATS on 11/02/10 & in the election years to follow.

yours, TN46

Posted by: texasnative46 | September 15, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

'Their Tea Party candidates are unacceptable to the American electorate.' Interesting. Rubio +16 in FL, Paul +7 in KY, Angle +! in NV, Fiorina +3 in CA, Martinez +8 in NM, Miller +12 in AK..TP candidates are leading in every big race..Though as a conserv NY Republican, I supported Castle..Im quite confident Christine will beat Harry Reid's 'favorite candidate' Chris Coons in Deleware.

Posted by: arod2012 | September 16, 2010 12:55 AM | Report abuse

As usual, Richard Cohen sees this from the right historic perspective. The tea-baggers will burn themselves out (they have no other alternative; they are not actually ADVOCATING anything real, as the Communists weren't), but not til they destroy the Republican Party from within -- UNLESS the so-far timid or non-existant Republican "leadership" starts acting like adults and patriots with a stake in actually governing this country.

Posted by: mylesgordon | September 16, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse


WHAT sort of beverage have you been imbibing? = it must be 150+ proof.

i'm a TP county coordinator & we HAVE a VERY specific set of goals in written form, that is EASY to find IF you are truly interested in what we want done in both the short & long term.

shall i type the main points of our proposals here for you to read?

yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | September 17, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

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