“Buckley Rule” In Action?

No sooner did I finish my last post than I ran across a little item that might provide a good test for the “Buckley Rule” in action, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Jim Galloway, who shared portions of a fundraising letter from 2014 Senate candidate Paul Broun, Jr.:

As a Member of the House of Representatives for the last few years, I have fought tooth-and-nail against President Obama’s agenda at every turn.

I was the first Member of Congress to call him a socialist who embraces Marxist-Leninist [sic!] policies like government control of health care and redistribution of wealth….

Truth be told, except for foreign policy, Ron Paul’s voting record and mine are virtually identical and I wear it as a badge of honor when I’m accused of being a strict constitutionalist who doesn’t bend or break when it’s tempting to do so….

In Congress last session I was honored to enjoy a close friendship with TEA Party favorite Lt. Colonel Allen West from Florida.

On the Senate side, I’m a staunch ally of now retired Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina — and of course, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky….

I am a constitutional conservative FIRST — and yes, I proudly belong to the limited-government wing of the Republican Party.

Now it’s possible that polls will show Broun being too wacky for Georgia general election voters. But suppose Democrats aren’t able to mount a credible candidacy, and it thus becomes just a matter of Republicans picking whoever the hell they actually want to serve in the Senate? If the “Buckley Rule” holds that the “rightwardmost viable candidate” should always be favored, it’s kind of hard imagining anyone getting to the starboard side of Paul Broun.

To put it another way, if the big argument within the Republican Party right now is whether or not Paul Broun is electable, as opposed to insane, frightening and incredibly ignorant, then it’s not a big enough argument.

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.