My bottom line is that some imaginative policy entrepreneurship would be more important than anything else, and a lot of the current debate is besides the point:
One facet of that ongoing debate is the fight between the grass roots and establishment over Senate primaries, which has been raging for months and got more fuel when speakers at CPAC savaged the Republican consultant class. Rarely has so much heat been generated with so little light.
Some of the same grass-roots conservative leaders banging on the consultants believed, or (in some cases, I suspect) pretended to believe, that Christine O’Donnell would sweep to victory in the Delaware Senate race in 2010. Every time they are about to congratulate themselves on their electoral acuity, they should have to listen to three hours of Chris Coons floor speeches on their iPods.
On the other hand, the establishment was eager to deliver a Florida Senate seat to Charlie Crist, who is as real as a spray-on tan and as appealing as a cheesy billboard for legal services (which he appeared on after Marco Rubio unceremoniously dispatched him back to legal practice).
The important question isn’t so much establishment or grass roots as who and where? Mike Lee isn’t Christine O’Donnell and Utah isn’t Delaware, and that makes all the difference.
Consider Ted Cruz, whose smarts and fearlessness are quickly making him the most dangerous man in the U.S. Senate. He proves that you can be anti-establishment — he ran a grass-roots insurgency in the Republican primary against the well-funded Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst — and yet talented and electable.