Peter Beinart took a break from bashing Israel today to argue in the Daily Beast that “the GOP is blowing it” by nominating candidates like Carly Fiorina to challenge Barbara Boxer for U.S. Senate this fall. Beinart’s brief: Republicans are “not willing to submerge their anger for the sake of winning elections. They either don’t think they need to compromise their ideological purity to beat Democrats this fall or they don’t care. In either case, they may be blowing their shot at a midterm landslide.” Specifically, in Beinart’s telling, Fiorina’s “combination of conservatism and inexperience gives Boxer a chance to sneak back into office.”
Beinart’s analysis unravels upon closer inspection, as Republicans, especially in California, have exhibited a highly pragmatic streak in electing candidates like Fiorina and gubernatorial hopeful Meg Whitman. Fiorina, as Beinart must know (or doesn’t care), wasn’t the “ideologically pure” candidate in the race; Assemblyman Chuck DeVore was. But state and national Republicans backed Fiorina because, as one told Human Events’s John Gizza, they “believed Carly could raise the money to overtake Campbell and then have the resources to beat Boxer in a close race.” Pace Beinart, too, Fiorina tied Boxer in several polls before negative primary ads diminished the former Hewlett-Packard CEO’s numbers. Boxer has never before faced a female Republican, let alone one who can self-fund.
Likewise, Whitman is anything but a full-spectrum conservative, despite vigorous (and expensive) efforts by her and her rival, Steve Poizner, to discredit each other during the primary as “liberal.” Whitman’s socially moderate views blunt the typical California Democrat’s advantage, and massive primary spending against her by the California Democratic party itself strongly indicates that Democrats dreaded her nomination. Their nightmare — a sunny, business-savvy female Republican from outside the Sacramento bubble — is now made flesh.
Even in Nevada — where tea party favorite Sharron Angle captured the nomination, defeating the more moderate Sue Lowden in the race to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid — Republicans didn’t act impetuously, as it appears even a Justin Bieber bobblehead doll could take down Reid in this poisonous-for-Democrats environment. The GOP simply nominated the most conservative candidate it could find with a reasonable chance of winning.
So desperate is Beinart to further the false narrative of an irate, scattershot Republican overreaction to the Democrats’ myriad failings that he ignores the signal moderate GOP recruiting triumphs that have characterized 2010, such as Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts, Rep. Mike Castle, the prohibitive favorite in Delaware’s Senate race, and Rep. Mark Kirk, currently leading the Senate contest in Obama’s home state. Irresponsible anger? Hardly.
– Michael M. Rosen is an attorney and Republican activist in San Diego.