I Don’t Really Care If GOP Takes Back The Senate

I was never particularly hopeful that the GOP would retake the Senate, but even if it turns out that O'Donnell's nomination prevents it from happening, I can't bring myself to care all that much.

There, I said it. Christine O’Donnell’s victory in yesterday’s Delaware primary is already considered to be the nail in the GOP’s chances of taking back the Senate. I was never particularly hopeful that that would happen anyway, but even if it turns out to be true, I can’t bring myself to care all that much. In fact, Castle’s prompt refusal to back her after she defeated him serves mainly to reinforce my lack of concern.

First, all spending bills originate in the House, and all bills must pass both, so we have plenty of leverage to keep Obama in check with just the House. Second, even with only 40/41 Senators, the spin that GOP “obstructionism”* is what has really prevented Obama from succeeding has a lot of traction. I remain convinced that Obama is no Bill Clinton; he won’t triangulate to shore up his popularity. Rather, he’ll double down again and again on the theme he’s already fallen in love with: Blaming Republicans. With actual Congressional majorities in both Houses, we’ll get a replay of 1995, with John Boehner in Gingrich’s role, hurting our chances of retaking the White House in 2012.

I’m a libertarian, but not one of the hard core that seems to exist mainly to make any perfect the enemy of every good. As such, despite his mushiness on some issues I care about, I could say that I had a mild preference for Castle and a GOP Senate over O’Donnell and no GOP Senate. But, as I’ve already said, nothing I’ve seen convinced me that Castle was the key to a GOP takeover. And there’s plenty to like in O’Donnell’s victory.

While it would be nice to control committees and have some power over what does and doesn’t get to the floor, the medium- and long-term benefits of the message sent to the GOP establishment that their return to power is contingent on their embracing fiscal sanity and governing in a manner acceptable to the Tea Party wing of the party far outweighs any such advantage.

This is not to say that Tea Partiers are entitled to everything they want or that the ones who have poisoned the Delaware well with such obnoxious falsehoods as that Castle voted to impeach Bush should be given a pass. Coalition politics requires everyone to compromise.

I’ve seen little to suggest that the GOP leadership thinks it needs to placate the base, though. Rather, we’ve had the party organs throwing support and money behind one “establishment” candidate after another. Democrat or Republican, it annoys me greatly when the party interferes with the membership’s chance to decide who should represent the party in an election. Even on those occasions when they support my candidate of choice, I think they should stay out of it and support the candidate primary voters nominate.

At the risk of being a broken record, the real annoyance this year is their apparent belief that they can just coast to victory on not being the Obama-Pelosi-Reid crew and get the perquisites of power without any of the responsibility of having an agenda to roll back that crew’s work. The last thing we want is another profligate, Democrat-lite GOP Congress like the last one that blows up the budget without anything other than their own re-election (for a while, anyway) to show for it. Everything I’ve seen of Castle suggests he would have been just a cog in that machine. There’s plenty of reason to want a GOP Senate instead of a Democratic one, but if O’Donnell losing the general helps shake McConnell & Co. up to the need for real change, this lemon could make some lemonade after all.

UPDATE: Den Domenech at RedState adds a point: I hadn’t considered

Conservatives should not tolerate the likes of Mike Castle because of the simple fact that a 51 member Senate with Mike Castle is a Senate where Mike Castle is the most important vote in the room. As Specter and others before him, that Senator will set the terms of policy debates, determining in advance what can succeed and fail….

As a friend of mine in the business of campaigns and elections has said, electing moderates simply to secure a majority for Republicans is a self-defeating proposition. We’ve seen this play out time and again. Career politicians abhor principle, and adore power and fecklessness.

RTWT.

* Who’ll give me odds that obstructionism will once again become a virtue when it’s Democrats blocking Speaker Boehner’s agenda?

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Barack Obama, Campaign 2010,
Dodd Harris
About Dodd Harris
Dodd, who used to run a blog named ipse dixit, is an attorney, a veteran of the United States Navy, and a fairly good poker player. He contributed over 650 pieces to OTB between May 2007 and September 2013. Follow him on Twitter @Amuk3.

Comments

  1. mantis says:

    You know you’ve got a strong argument if you turn to Jonah Goldberg for assistance!

  2. JKB says:

    Here here.  If all we end up is Republicans like the ones that got voted out in 2006, what do we gain.  Better to send a message to Republican and Democrat alike, change is upon us and it isn’t some stupid slogan.  Republicans aren’t the answer, they are just all that is left once you deal with the hard left turn of the Democrats.  When the trouncing occurs in November, we might see some decent Dems swing back to the middle and embrace fiscal sanity.  If so, they could be good representatives as well.  But whoever sees the Treasury as their piggy bank will find themselves headed for the electoral slaughterhouse, party affiliation not withstanding.  And any politician like that might want to take a pause before accepting any invitations to community barbecues.

  3. Steve Plunk says:

    I’ll have to agree with Dodd.  Either way Delaware goes the overall GOP/Tea Party win will change things enough to be noticed.
     
    Thanks for a reasonable analysis and complete explanation.

  4. Herb says:

    New game:  drink when you hear the term “fiscal sanity.”
     
    On a side note, since when has “fiscal sanity” and “Republicans in power” been one and the same?  Have you guys been paying attention the last twenty-thirty years?

  5. madawaskan says:

    Well shoot me but some of the active duty military community do give a damn.
    Good for you that you can be s laissez-faire about it.
     
    Libertarian just means never having to answer for any of the realities of the world.
     
    Or-
    Please let me smoke pot, but don’t tax me bro!

  6. WhiskeyJim says:

    Two more points:
    1) Rome wasn’t built in a day.  Neither will dismantling the federal bureaucracy and saving it from bankruptcy.  Therefore winning the Senate is less important in the long run than hearing small government voices, however imperfect.
    2) The Republican establishment, including the Weekly Standard negative reaction to O’Donnell signals how deeply the RHINO position holds back the party.  O’Donnell exaggerated her educational position while her career and livelihood were at stake?  The horror:)  At least she didn’t vote for cap and trade.  That would have been truly unforgivable.
    Go O’Donnell.  BTW, the fat lady isn’t done singing yet.

  7. MarkJ says:

    We haven’t even mentioned the two ladies from Maine, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, who are, at best, two wobbly GOP votes. They wouldn’t miss an oppotunity to stab a Majority Leader McConnell in the back. Indeed, the GOP would have to win two extra Senate races this year just cancel out the potential damage both of those self-absorbed chicks could do.
     
    The GOP would be well advised to just a MacArthur-style “island-hopping campaign” this year: concentrate  on winning the House, aim for a “cloture-proof” Senate, and build on those gains for 2012. An increased GOP presence in the Senate would bottle up the Obama’s agenda anyway: with Harry “Chuckles” Reid increasingly looking like t.o.a.s.t., a Majority Leader Durbin or Schumer would have as much success maintaining Donk discipline and the General Party Line for the next two years as he would herding cats.   

  8. Trumwill says:

    I understand where you’re coming from, Dodd, but Domenech’s rationale is saying the equivalent of “Isn’t it awful that Anthony Kennedy has the balance of the Supreme Court in his hands? He’s so unreliable. Better that we get rid of him even if it means the likelihood of a 5-4 liberal majority.”

  9. Drew says:

    I can’t believe you’ve been writing here for three years and I haven’t been following. 

    Apologies. 

    Not really sure that this matters as much as everyone seems to think it does, though.  There’s no evidence to support expectations that anything more than political gridlock is our best chance at recovery.

  10. Herb says:

    We haven’t even mentioned the two ladies from Maine, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, who are, at best, two wobbly GOP votes.

    Ya know, if you guys don’t want them, I’m sure the Dems will be happy to take them on.

  11. Herb says:

    There’s no evidence to support expectations that anything more than political gridlock is our best chance at recovery.

    Okay, so I don’t have any evidence that bi-partisan cooperation is what’s needed, but do you have any “evidence that gridlock is our best change at recovery?”
     
    We’ve had a couple years of gridlock already….no recovery.  Do we have to wait for the elections or what?

  12. ponce says:

    I suppose it doesn’t matter if you believe the Tea Party will be around in the long run.
     
    I can’t see that being the case if all their candidate go down to ignoble defeat in November.

  13. madawaskan says:

    Yep, Sue Collins and Olympia Snowe who backed the war effort-throw ’em to the wolves.
    That becomes a lot easier when you have Libertarian tested only in theory values.
    Explains why it’s all the rage with college professors who have never left the cocoon of campus, and who never even get their John Boy haircuts critiqued.

  14. PD Shaw says:

    Herb, if you think the $787-billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is gridlock, you are positioning yourself pretty far out there.

    Me, I would like to see Republican control of at least one chamber to create some ownership of the issues of the day.  I felt the same way in the early 2000s, I wanted the Democrats to take back at least one chamber.

  15. Akatsukami says:

    On a side note, since when has “fiscal sanity” and “Republicans in power” been one and the same?  Have you guys been paying attention the last twenty-thirty years?”

    I believe, Herb, that the point of this article was that a Senate with Mike Castle in it was more likely to continue that behavior than a Senate with Christine O’Donnell in it.

  16. Herb says:

    Herb, if you think the $787-billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is gridlock, you are positioning yourself pretty far out there.

    Good point….and you’d have to include Obamacare in there as well.  However, it should be said that neither ARRA or Obamacare got any Republican support.  That begs the question:  Does unsuccessful gridlock count as gridlock?
     
    Either way, if Republican opposition to the Dem agenda is going to lead us to a recovery, I’m still waiting…

  17. Herb says:

    PS:

    Who’ll give me odds that obstructionism will once again become a virtue when it’s Democrats blocking Speaker Boehner’s agenda?

    Um…..since when did Boehner get an agenda?

  18. richard40 says:

    Good points.  In some ways it is better if the GOP falls just short of taking the Senate.  With a Repub House, and support from moderate Senate dems like Leiberman, we can effectively stop any further Obama outrages.  And a Repub House can do any necessary investigations and hearings to expose Obama corruption.  And by not having Senate control, we can still run as the anti DC out party, and improve our chances to get the presidency and a filibuster proof senate majority in 2012, which is what is really required to roll back outrages like obamacare.  And while doing this, we can purge a lot of Rhinos, and put the fear of God into those that survive.  Until that happens, I am perfectly happy with “obstructionism”.
    One caution however.  My definition of Rhino is NOT somebody who is pro abortion or gay marriage.  The tea party has a big tent position on those issues, the right thing to do.  I only consider somebody a Rhino if they are squishy on fiscal conservative issues and gun rights, like cap and trade (the real problem with Castle, not abortion), Obamacare, spending, taxes, bailouts, and regulation.

  19. Dodd says:

    Well shoot me but some of the active duty military community do give a damn.
    Good for you that you can be s laissez-faire about it.

    Libertarian just means never having to answer for any of the realities of the world.

    I realize that pro forma diatribes against libertarians as if they’re all the same are all the rage these days, but I don’t think you understood my point. Please note that I quite plainly said that I am “not one of the hard core that seems to exist mainly to make any perfect the enemy of every good” and that “[c]oalition politics requires everyone to compromise.”

    I thought that (not to mention my slight preference for taking over the Senate even of it meant Castle winning) made it pretty clear how fed up I get with purists who would rather lose every election than give an inch. I also thought I made it clear the same goes for both sides of the internecine squabble over O’Donnell. I understand, as WhiskeyJim pointed out, that shrinking the Leviathan will take a long time. As such, I’m happy to accept progress toward that goal rather than demanding perfection.

    Electing Republicans is generally preferable to electing Democrats, but not if they have no values other than their own perqs (which was the main problem with the Trent Lott party). As such, I want the GOP ‘leadership’ to listen to the base and get back to the small-l libertarian principles of smaller, less intrusive, federalist government that it’s supposed to represent. That’s the progress I’m looking for, not a rerun of Trent Lott’s Majority Leader years.

     

    I believe, Herb, that the point of this article was that a Senate with Mike Castle in it was more likely to continue that behavior than a Senate with Christine O’Donnell in it.

    That wasn’t the point of my post, per se, but you’re not wrong. Castle would almost assuredly be a status quo influence in the chamber giving us more of what we got under Bush. And the ultimate point I’ve been making for years is that that is not what we want.

  20. wr says:

    What’s the fiscally responsible Tea Party position on invading foreign countries without raising taxes to pay for it, leaving the bill for our kids? What’s the fiscally responsible Tea Party position on keeping low tax rates for millionaires and billionaires, thus blowing a multi-trillion dollar hole in the budget?

  21. An Interested Party says:

    This post has the whiff of sour grapes…and now, if everything hinges on the GOP taking over the House, how disappointed will many around here, among numerous others, be if that doesn’t happen?   

    By the way, I’d love it if anyone could point out when Republican control of anything (other than the 90s when it was more like a Democratic president and the tech boom as well as a GOP Congress) produced “fiscal sanity”…

  22. Dodd says:

    This post has the whiff of sour grapes

    Not in the slightest.

    If you think that, you really ought to click through to my post from week before last.

  23. ponce says:

    “What’s the fiscally responsible Tea Party position on invading foreign countries without raising taxes to pay for it, leaving the bill for our kids?”
     
    wr,
     
    You don’t understand.
     
    The Tea Party is for whatever its individual members think its for.
     
    A million points of light…

  24. madawaskan says:

    Dude-
     
    I have to admit due to the nature of your post title being so flippant-I didn’t read anything else.
     
    <i>I Don’t Really Care…</i>
     
    You summed up Libertarians-right there.

  25. bains says:

    On a side note, since when has “fiscal sanity” and “Republicans in power” been one and the same?  Have you guys been paying attention the last twenty-thirty years?

    Showing that you either have no clue what Tea Partiers stand for, or showing intellectual dishonest by trying to foist a false meme.
    Yes we have been paying attention for the last thirty, nay, hundred years, and we dont like any government that leverages its political success on the backs of Americans yet to be born.  I think that is what, really deep down, has the coastal elites and all their lap dogs are so afraid. People are finally starting to hold their elected representatives accountable; it is not politicians campaigning rhetoric, rather what they have actually done, that is the yardstick.  It is why Mike Castle was not returned to even more years of duplicitous government service.
    The tea party is fed up with government as usual – as exemplified by the current Democrat party (more government is always the answer to whatever ails the nation) –  they we are as disgusted with a GOP that buys into the false promises of the left for temporary electoral gains.
    The Tea Party is the proverbial bear lumbering into your campsite – that you chose to marginalize it rather than address it, is at your own peril.
    Sweet dreams Herb…
     

  26. wr says:

    Frankly, I don’t see any connection between Tea Party values and Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. The TPs want to destroy the social safety net so that the very rich are free to pursue all of the above, and everyone else is free to die in the dark. The truly hilarious thing is that many of these people consider themselves “Christians.” Because they read the Bible as well as they read the constitution.

  27. madawaskan says:

    Well I’ve watched Snowe in the Senate closely for years.
    She’s more Conservative than she wants to appear.
     
     
     

  28. Geoff says:

    @madawaskan:
     
    Just because libertarians believe in limited government doesn’t mean they don’t care. News flash: caring is not co-extensive with support for government action. I guess your mind so associates the two together I suspect you can’t envision that they need not be together.

  29. Herb says:

    The Tea Party is the proverbial bear lumbering into your campsite – that you chose to marginalize it rather than address it, is at your own peril.
    Sweet dreams Herb…

    To quote Beavis:  “Are you threatening me?”  Sometimes threats are persuasive.  Most of the time, though, they’re just empty.
     
    Without the threats and the delusions of grandeur, the Tea Party types are little more than ultra-right wing Republicans.   In short, a percentage of a percentage.  The proverbial bear?  Try the proverbial niche.

  30. madawaskan says:

    Well Geoff it’s hard to buy when blogs begin with-
    <i>I Really Don’t Care</i>.
    Being a Libertarian means never having to say you’re sorry.
    Ali McGraw with ‘tude!
     
    **************
    To be serious for a moment explain to me how Libertarians square Obama King of the Nanny party w/ who cares if Democrats have the Senate?
     
    Do you people get how not just the Supreme Court is appointed, but all the judges of the lower courts are appointed? Do you appreciate the fact that they are there for-life?
    How about if Obama and the Democrats can’t get what they want legislatively, could  they possibly get what they want administratively?
    For example-Cap and Trade does not pass-could they ramp up regulation through the EPA?
    Who approves Obama’s administrative appointments?
    Think it might just be Senators?
    Then how are the US attorney’s at DOJ appointed?  Think that Liberal prosecutors might be more apt to go after social issue agendas?
    Who approves those appointments?
    The Senate.
    The Tea Party and Libertarians are more alike than you think-they get off on rejecting anyone that’s had to deal with the reality of actually governing.
    And Glenn Reynolds is more protected from the market forces of reality than most.
    Extended analysis from Reynolds amounts to-“heh” and he responds well obviously to-“I really don’t care.”
    I know you probably don’t want to defend Reynolds or Meghan McCardle a Libertarian economics expert that somehow managed to vote for Obama-because it’s a lot easier to play offense.
     
    That is the Tea Party and Libertarian game.  And again-who cares?
     

  31. Tennwriter says:

    I’d say Tea Party values are roughly the same as Social Conservative values aka The Base’s values, but with debt as the biggest concern of the day.

    Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness….1)Probably a large majority of TPers are Pro-Life, and those who are aware are concerned about SWAT police raids that kill wrong people. 2) Liberty, in the Founder’s idea, is negative liberty. Its freedom from be coerced by a governmental force. You can do mostly what you want as long as you don’t force others to do things. Its fairly libertarian, although the Founders had a great deal more willingness to impose social controls than even modern social conservatives. 3)Pursuit of Happiness…that is in large part the TPers issue. They think the gov’t is getting in the way of people’s pursuit of happiness.

    As to dying in the dark….y’know, most of our great schools were founded as Christian institutions. Harvard was founded to train preachers. People, guided by God, can cooperate and build great institutions and roads and libraries and hospitals without government.  The proper role of government is to punish cheaters, protect the borders, and serve as a help of last resort. When government expands too much it vitiates other institutions which do a better job than it.

    And if Snowe is adopting a liberal appearance to hide a conservative reality, she might want to consider shedding some of that in time to come.

  32. Mark says:

    No one should give odds on your premise – “that obstructionism will once again become a virtue when it’s Democrats blocking Speaker Boehner’s agenda?” 

    That’s the biggest sucker bet in 2010.

  33. Drew says:

    “While it would be nice to control committees and have some power over what does and doesn’t get to the floor, the medium- and long-term benefits of the message sent to the GOP establishment that their return to power is contingent on their embracing fiscal sanity and governing in a manner acceptable to the Tea Party wing of the party far outweighs any such advantage.”

    Exactly.

  34. An Interested Party says:

    “…the message sent to the GOP establishment that their return to power is contingent on their embracing fiscal sanity and governing in a manner acceptable to the Tea Party wing of the party…”
    And when has the modern GOP ever embraced fiscal sanity and governed in that manner…

  35. Brummagem Joe says:

    When Redstate is your ref you’ve told all we need to know about about your objectivity Dodd

  36. WhiskeyJim says:

    By the way, let’s really frame the O’Donnell vs. Castle frap.
    It can easily be argued that voters have increasingly been looking for a smaller federal government since Jimmy Carter.  They just can’t get it.  In fact most politicians get elected by sounding like fiscal conservatives, and find their unpopularity by betraying that trust.  The election waves since the 1970s buttress that argument.
    Bush and the Republicans were voted out at least partly because of their spending.  It was NOT just a vote on the war and their terrible PR.  The people put their hopes on the hopey changey thing.
    Not listening carefully, voters thought Obama was going to restructure, not grow the government.  Being polite, polling will show an abnormally long elasticity in Obama’s personal approval ratings despite his atrocious policies because he is the first black President.  They do not want to appear racist.
    By now, the first three goals of the American economy must be:
    1) Shrink government spending and federal power.
    2) Shrink government spending and federal power.
    3) Shrink government spending and federal power.
    These goals will remain job 1 for decades.  There are many strategies to get there.  The population is not generally aware of the extent of the changes that need to take place.  And all suggestions will be pilloried in the MSM.  There are simple strategies to get by these issues also, but Republicans and free marketers haven’t even talked about them yet.
    Electing Castle for the short run gets you nowhere except a disappointed population in achieving any of the above.   It does send the wrong message though.

  37. sookie says:

    With actual Congressional majorities in both Houses, we’ll get a replay of 1995, with John Boehner in Gingrich’s role, hurting our chances of retaking the White House in 2012.

    Why on earth do we want to retake the WH in 2012 (presuming we take the House and Senate this year)?  We need to now and forever vote for divided government.  Never should we vote to allow one party control of both chambers an the WH.   It’s no assurance but it’s the best weapon we have.

  38. James says:

    an attorney, just caught my eye, seems these days ………./ an attorney is a common thread
    amoung “White Collar” leadership. I think this make leadership for to “Hybrid” Elite.
    Journalist/Attorney, Senator/Attorney, Doctor/Attorney..”I’m Exhausted” 🙂

    Where is the voice of the “Middle Class”

  39. James says:

    Mr Castle “Fames is Fleeding”, George Washington seemed to have the proper humility.

    You have enjoyed your share of the pie, go with your Country’s Best Wishes.