That famed confederacy of dunces apparently had a bit of a confab this week, as former NRO and now Washington Post GOP beat reporter Robert Costa explains. It seems the culture warriors and Tea Party darlings aren't going out without that brutal internal GOP civil war I've been talking about, and the situation just got "serious".
Thursday’s gathering at the Ritz-Carlton in Tysons Corner, Va., was coordinated by Reagan-era attorney general Edwin Meese III and former congressman David McIntosh (Ind.) as part of an initiative called the Conservative Action Project.
It included dozens of leaders from across the conservative movement, including tea party organizer Jenny Beth Martin and interest group executives such as Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. The meeting, which featured speeches from Sens. Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Mike Lee (Utah), marked the first time this year that prominent national conservatives have come together to candidly assess the GOP and their strategy for shaping it.
The day-long session underscored how simmering tensions between rival factions in the Republican Party appear to be growing, even as polls point to the potential for a major GOP victory in midterm elections in the fall.
Congressional Republicans have been grappling over whether to compromise on immigration, some Republicans are calling for a smaller military, and same-sex marriage is fading as a top issue in this year’s campaigns.
It seems that the establishment GOP isn't going to put up with more Todd Akin-style "legitimate rape" gaffes and want to win enough seats to seriously damage the Democrats, oh and throw aside the Tea Party for good.
Many GOP strategists and party leaders think that tea party activists’ successes in recent years nominating ideological purists resulted in weak candidates and crippling general-election losses. They worry that efforts to revive the base could threaten Republican hopes again.
“What’s clear is that we ought to be focusing on economic security for the future, not divisive social issues. That’s how we lost several key Senate races last cycle and plays into the Democrats’ hand,” said GOP consultant Brian Walsh, a former communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
But the bigots, the misogynists, and the god-botherers won't be denied.
But even in the tightknit room, there was not universal agreement. Norquist, for example, supports legalization for many illegal immigrants and has pushed for more scrutiny of the defense budget. In an interview, he said he attended Thursday’s meeting to back the broad efforts on the right to unite, rather than endorse the document line by line.
Most activists expressed dismay that they seemed to have a diminished voice in the party.
“What we’re doing and saying is not resonating, so we are trying to come to grips with that,” said Grace-Marie Turner, the president of the Galen Institute, a conservative research group. “We have to learn to relate our solutions to people’s struggles.”
What they all have in common is that they're already counting their Senate and House victories six months ahead of time and are already fighting over who will be driving the clown car when it crosses the finish line.
Perhaps they need a rude awakening at the polls in November.