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Wall Street Journal: Wrong on History, Wrong on Politics

Viguerie Speaking to VA Tea Party


In my new book TAKEOVER I cite The Wall Street Journal as one of the few remaining conservative daily newspapers in America and give the WSJ a lot of credit for the defeat of Hillarycare, but sometimes they get it wrong and they got both the history and the politics wrong in an April 14 article by Gerald F. Seib “Senate Republicans Seek Truce With Tea Party.”

You would think that after the 2012 election the national Republican leadership would be out looking for candidates that could replicate the grassroots victories of candidates like Ted Cruz and Deb Fischer. 

Yet, as the 2014 Republican primary season heats-up I can say with some authority that limited government constitutional conservatives don’t see much of a “truce” out in the trenches in the Republican primaries, Far from initiating a “truce” and letting the grassroots of the Republican Party choose principled limited government constitutional conservatives like Cruz and Fischer to carry the GOP banner in November and replicate their success, quite the reverse has occurred.

The “truce” between the Tea Party movement and the Washington Republican establishment alleged in Seib's article will result not in the nomination of more Ted Cruz-inspired candidates, but in the nomination of more establishment-type Republicans who won't rock the establishment's boat and in a claim that turns history on its head are deemed by Washington's insdiers to be "more electable."

Gerald Seib is a good man, but he appears to have cribbed his analysis from one of Karl Rove’s little white boards when he says that the GOP fell short because of the failed 2010 campaigns of “Tea Party” candidates like Sharon Angle in Nevada, Christine O’Donnell in Delaware and the 2012 blow-ups of “Tea Party” candidates Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana.

As I point out in TAKEOVER, in 2012, the Republican establishment was particularly anxious to manipulate the results of the Republican Senate primaries to avoid what it saw as a dangerous repeat of the nominations of “outsider” candidates like Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle, two Tea Party–backed candidates who lost in spectacular fashion in 2010.

To that end they pulled out all the stops to make sure that establishment Republicans, such as Texas lieutenant governor David Dewhurst, Florida congressman Connie Mack III, Wisconsin’s former governor and Bush cabinet official Tommy Thompson, and Virginia’s former Republican governor and senator George Allen, became the Party’s Senate nominees.

They also pumped millions into the campaigns of Republican establishment incumbents, such as Indiana’s six-term incumbent Richard Lugar, who were perceived to be on the bubble and subject to strong primary challenges from Tea Party–backed candidates.

The result of this attempted manipulation was a virtual wipeout of the Republican establishment’s candidates that deprived the GOP of control of the upper house of Congress for the second election in a row.

As I explain in TAKEOVER, the charge that the Tea Party cost Republicans control of the Senate in 2012 rests entirely on the implosion of two conservative Senate candidates— Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana.

But Akin and Mourdock were not “outsider,” first-time Tea Party candidates; both were experienced Republican politicians.

Akin was an incumbent Republican member of Congress who had served six terms in the House and emerged from a tough threeway Republican primary to claim the Missouri Republican Senate nomination.

Mourdock was the sitting Indiana State treasurer who ran for office several times before winning a tough statewide campaign to become Indiana’s chief financial officer. He made a name for himself opposing Obama’s extra-legal action that favored the United Auto Workers union over the Indiana State Employees’ Pension Fund in the Chrysler bailout. Mourdock defeated incumbent Republican senator Richard Lugar in a hard-fought Republican primary that saw a majority of Indiana’s Republican county chairs oppose Senator Lugar’s renomination.

What’s more, the blunders of Akin and Mourdock had nothing to do with the Tea Party’s limited government, constitutional conservative agenda—they each put their foot in their mouths dealing with the Democrats’ “war on women” campaign gambit—a line of attack that Republicans still have not realized can be countered by attacking the extreme liberal positions of the Democrats on partial-birth abortion, taxpayer funded abortions, and the Democrats’ opposition to “born alive” laws.

If the Republican Party’s failure to capture the Senate majority rests on the failure of Akin and Mourdock, that must mean that most of the Republican establishment’s favored Senate candidates all won, right?

So, how did all the candidates that were handpicked by the Republican National Senatorial Committee, the Republican National Committee, and Karl Rove’s American Crossroads PAC fare?

First Lady of the conservative movement Phyllis Schlafly summed up the results nicely in a post-election column:

Of the 31 races in which Rove aired TV ads, Republicans won only 9; Rove’s Establishment losers included Rick Berg who lost in North Dakota and Denny Rehberg who lost in Montana, even while Romney was carrying both those states. Other Establishment losers were George Allen in Virginia, Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin, Connie Mack in Florida and Heather Wilson in New Mexico.

Phyllis Schlafly also made this point: “There are two reasons why Rove and his rich donors don’t like grass-roots Republicans and Tea Partiers. The Establishment can’t order them how to vote, and the Establishment wants candidates to talk only about economic issues, never about social, moral, or national-security issues.”

Club for Growth president Chris Chocola had it pretty well right when he told NewsMax: “The question isn’t why Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock lost—we know why they lost,” said Chocola. “The question is really why did Heather Wilson in New Mexico, Rick Berg in North Dakota, Denny Rehberg in Montana, Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin, George Allen in Virginia and Linda Lingle in Hawaii—why did they lose?”

We could add Connie Mack in Florida and Mitt Romney nationally to Chocola’s list, but you get the point.

As I note in TAKEOVER, the three bright spots on the GOP’s 2012 Senate election scorecard: Texas senator Ted Cruz, Arizona senator Jeff Flake, and Nebraska senator Deb Fischer all won their races running as limited government constitutional conservative Tea Party candidates.

They ran against business as usual in Washington; and even if one senator, specifically Senator Jeff Flake, proved to be a disappointment once he got to the Senate, that doesn’t negate the fact that what elected all three of them to the Senate in 2012 was a promise to pursue the limited government, constitutional conservative values and legislative goals of the Tea Party.

While I think most readers understand by now that our friends at The Wall Street Journal have been suckered by Karl Rove’s re-writing of history I think we need to go back to 2010, as I did in TAKEOVER, to disprove once and for all the notion that the Tea Party movement is somehow a drag on the GOP’s prospects for recapturing the Senate.

In postelection armchair quarterbacking of the 2010 election, the defeats of Angle and O’Donnell in two potentially winnable elections were siezed upon by the Republican establishment as evidence that the Tea Party was responsible for the failure of the Republican Party to win a majority in the Senate.

This rewriting of history conveniently overlooks the fact that the Republican establishment immediately abandoned Angle and O’Donnell as soon as they won their primaries.

If the Republican establishment considered them to be “not ready for prime time,” they did nothing to help them get ready, and plenty to damage their campaigns by criticizing them and filling the media with GOP insider predictions of inevitable losses after the favored insider candidates were rejected by the voters.

But the facts are that in 2010, when voters saw the opposition to Obama and the Democrats, they saw Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Mike Lee, the Tea Party volunteers, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Mark Levin – not the Republican establishment.

And here were the results:

The Republican Party gained sixty-three seats in the US House of Representatives, recapturing the majority, and making it the largest seat change since 1948 and the largest for any midterm election since the 1938 midterm elections.

The Republicans gained six seats in the US Senate, expanding its minority.

The GOP gained 680 seats in state legislative races, to break the previous majority record of 628 set by Democrats in the post-Watergate elections of 1974.

This meant Republicans controlled twenty-five state legislatures, compared to the fifteen still controlled by Democrats going into the crucial post census reapportionment.

And finally, after the election, Republicans took control of twenty-nine of the fifty state governorships.

In reality, there was no evidence to suggest that an establishment candidate, such as liberal Delaware Republican Mike Castle, who was defeated by Christine O’Donnell in the Republican primary, was going to automatically prevail in the general election when he stood for the Big Government policies voters across the country were rejecting.

What’s more, the analysis that the Tea Party cost the GOP control of the Senate, as Seib suggests, ignores the tough 2010 Senate races that Republicans won, such as Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, in all likelihood only because of the new energy and new voters brought to the campaign by the Tea Party movement.

Contrary to the premise of Gerald Seib’s “Senate Republicans Seek Truce With Tea Party,” there’s no truce in the Republican Senate primaries. The Republican establishment continues to run content-free negative campaigns against principled conservatives like Paul Broun in Georgia, Jason Conger in Oregon, Chris McDaniel in Mississippi and Joe Carr in Tennessee and to support Big Government Republican incumbents like Thad Cochran, Lamar Alexander and Mitch McConnell.

If 2012 and 2010 were indicative of where voters will be in 2014, and Republicans fail to capture the majority in the Senate for a third straight election, it will not be because of the Tea Party movement; it will be because the GOP establishment forced the nomination of the same kind of Big Government Republicans voters overwhelmingly rejected in 2010 and 2012.

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Gop "establishment vs Tea Party

Mr. Viguerie's article is pretty conclusive proof that WE THE PEOPLE" aka the "Tea PARTY" spoke at all the polls mentioned by him
The great Republican Party simply refuses to recognize that the Citizens of this great Nation are tired of their "establishment" representation and want representatives who will llisten to THE PEOPLE.
If they continue in their "war" on us, they will certainly lose again, because WE will make our voices heard again at the polls.
IF there is truly an honest election (Sans fraud and illegals voting) WE will elect some decent representatives who will govern according to our
Constitution, as it should be.

WSJ wrong on histort,etc

Nicely written article. It expresses my sentiments perfectly about why the GOP has been losing elections by supporting candidates that support the "content free" style of campaigning.

Richard Viguerie and WSJ

Agree with Richard but would phrase it differently -- or maybe just expand somewhat on it:
One of the advantages of great wealth is that you are far better able to live in a bubble of your own or your friends making. A great many wealthy choose to do so (and that is their right in a relatively free country). But the effect is that doing so makes them rather different from "the rest of us." Think: Romney's "tin ear" such as building a house with a car elevator exactly at the same time that he's running for president.
The key to a successful politician is the opposite of a tin ear: a good sense of what the electorate wants to hear. (A statesman is a rare sub-set who says what the electorate want to hear but about policies that the country needs to pursue. A hack is a different sub-set: willing to say whatever he thinks will get him reelected.)
The WSJ tries to cater to the wealthy (their principal readership) while also, often, trying to more policies toward what is better for the country. But the wealthy are able, far better than most, to shield themselves from the ill effects of bad policies, especially bad social policies. Hence little surprise that the WSJ downplays the effects of these.
Bob Schadler