“But Seriously–” Said the Clown

In a numbingly predictable development, a variety of Beltway Republicans are vowing to make sure the Big Boys are in charge next time the GOP has a shot at controlling the Senate, even if that means intervening in primaries and dissing Tea Party faves. The point of this talk appears to be to blame the loss of the Senate on Todd Akin, who might well have been disposed of in the Missouri primary given his close victory over two other and presumably less rape-oriented candidates, John Brunner and Sarah Steelman. In Manu Raju’s Politico piece on the Big Boy scuttlebutt, there’s some acute pushback from those noting accurately that Akin and Richard Mourdock (who had massive, virtually unanimous conservative support in his successful primary challenge to Dick Lugar) weren’t the only problems Republicans had in 2012 Senate races:

“Look at the ‘electable’ candidates in Montana, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Virginia and North Dakota this cycle,” said Barney Keller, a spokesman for Club for Growth. “All were not chosen by pro-growth conservatives. All were chosen by the party establishment because they were considered more ‘electable.’ All were defeated on Election Day.”

But this whole meme is a classic example of illusion via the necessity of plugging people into pre-established MSM categories. The guy in charge of the Big Boys, the new NSRC chairman, Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran, was himself a co-founder of the Senate Tea Party Caucus. His appointed lieutenant in this effort to “discipline” the crazy people is none other than Ted Cruz, the guy who actually campaigned on the insane Bircher-driven Agenda 21 “threat.” And even in the example supposedly driving this gambit, Akin’s primary win, it’s not as though the alternative candidates, who spent the entire campaign trying to out-conservative each other and Akin.

What this smells like is a game to convince donors It Won’t Happen Again, not some real shift of power away from movement-conservatives in the GOP. And the recasting of people like Moran, Cruz, and even Jim DeMint (quoted as expressing an interest in avoiding fractious primaries, which is sort of like a confirmed arsonist putting on a firefighter’s helmet) as “responsible” Big Boys is a prime example of how the GOP keeps managing to move Right no matter what happens.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.