The Corner

That Last Post Was for E. J. Dionne

who writes today that:

It demonstrates just how right-wing some Republicans have become that former House speaker Newt Gingrich is on the moderate side of this civil war against his old nemesis Dick Armey, who served under Gingrich as majority leader.

Gingrich, who backs Scozzafava, always understood that he would never have become speaker without help from Republican moderates. Armey prefers ideological purity and, like fellow members of the Tea Party movement, is supporting Hoffman.

These things can be very prudential matters, pitting friends and allies on opposite sides, both with sensible reasons for their positions. But this one isn’t as hard a choice as some others.

I’ll repeat Steyn from yesterday because he (natch) makes the point perfectly:

Newt really needs to re-think his support for Dede Scozzafava. This isn’t RINO but DIABLO – Democrat In All But Label Only. It’s not one of those “socially liberal, fiscally conservative” bi-swinger deals — not when you’re pro-”stimulus”, pro-cash-for-clunkers. And the reductive argument that her sole redeeming value – a willingness to vote for John Boehner as Speaker — is reason enough to support her is silly in a special election. If he’s ever Speaker, Boehner won’t be till January 2011, and it’s 12 months premature for Newt to be telling voters they need to suck it up and accept that a handful of Jim-Jeffords-in-embryo-form are necessary for the Republican tide.

But beyond all that there’s now a competence issue: Since the cop-calling and its aftermath, the candidate has demonstrated that there is no case for her whatsoever. At this stage in the nation’s affairs, Washington doesn’t need another incoherent buffoon insulated by a phalanx of thin-skinned twerps already guarding her like a 30-year incumbent for whom routine questions are an outrageous form of lèse-majesté. By any reasonable measure, this candidate is unworthy of a seat in the national legislature.

The tea parties and town halls were a response not just to Obama but to the 2006/2008 GOP. If Dede Scozzafava wins, it’s a loss — a serious loss — for those voters who believe irresponsible spending by feckless federal mediocrities will deny future generations any shot at the American Dream. If Doug Hoffman wins, as I believe he can, great. But, if he doesn’t and the seat falls to the Dem, it will be a cautionary tale for party leaders who, as in NY-23, make choices that confirm everything a disgruntled base thinks of them.

Making the Hoffman choice in NY-23 isn’t about ideological purity. It’s about integrity.