Near the end of the first act of the Broadway musical “The Phantom of the Opera,” the phantom grows increasingly agitated because Christine is not fully under his control. His reasons are selfish — he wants her to himself. In the stunning climax the Phantom screams “So it shall be war between us,” and drops the chandelier on the opera house audience.
Karl Rove has decided he is the Phantom of the Republican party, angry that he cannot control the tea party and maintain his relevance as a party broker, so he has decided to drop a chandelier on the party.
Yesterday, the New York Times reported that the ‘biggest donors in the Republican Party’ have joined forces with Karl Rove and Steven J. Law, president of American Crossroads, to create the Conservative Victory Project. The Times reports that this new group will dedicate itself to ‘recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts who Republican leaders worry could complicate the party’s effort to win control of the Senate.’ The group points to candidates like Christine O’Donnell in Delaware and Richard Mourdock in Indiana as examples of Tea Party primary picks going sideways in major Senatorial battles.
But it is American Crossroads and its ilk that have run the GOP into the ground. Spending millions of dollars on useless 30,000-ft. advertising campaigns during the last election cycle, training candidates to soften conservatism in order to appeal to ‘moderates,’ blowing up the federal budget under George W. Bush as a bipartisan tactic — all of those strategies led the party to a disastrous defeat in 2012. The Tea Party, which may nominate losers from time to time, also brought the Republicans their historic 2010 Congressional victory. If Tea Party candidates lose, it’s because they weren’t good candidates; if GOP establishment candidates lose, it’s because they weren’t good conservatives. The choice for actual conservatives should be easy.
But it isn’t. The Bush insider team that helped lead to the rise of Barack Obama insists that they, and only they, know the path to victory. As the Times reports, Conservative Victory Project won’t merely protect incumbents — it will challenge sitting Congresspeople of the Tea Party variety, including six-term Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King, who may run for Senate. ‘We’re concerned about Steve King’s Todd Akin problem,’ Law told the Times – with whom he seems far too friendly. ‘This is an example of candidate discipline and how it would play in a general election. All of the things he’s said are going to be hung around his neck.’
If Rove spent the money taking those conservative candidate under his wing and schooling them on how to be better candidates, it might be a worthwhile endeavor. Instead he is trying to split the party because those newly active “tea partiers” are not listening to his orders, thus making him irrelevant.
Rove forgets that it was the “tea party” that gave the GOP its house majority in 2010. What’s more, tea party activists are more loyal to the ideals they believe necessary to save the country than they are to any specific party. In other words they are very willing to go elsewhere … so be very careful.
Jeff Dunetz is Editor/Publisher of the Political Blog, The Lid