The Circular Firing Squad Takes Aim At Chris Christie

When conservatives start attacking one of their own for pointing out the obvious, you really have to wonder if they want to win.

New Jersey’s Chris Christie has been one of the biggest stars in the conservative wing of the GOP this year, but his comments today about Christine O’Donnell’s doomed bid for the Senate have made him the focus of ire on the part of one blogger who has taken it upon himself to attack anyone on the right who bothered to take note of the fact that Christine O’Donnell was doomed from the day she won the GOP nomination:

While a Republican, a corporatist, or a governmentalist might describe Castle as potentially a good Senator, no honest, serious thinking Conservative ever would. That does not mean that O’Donnell was an ideal candidate. But it is imperative that the conservative movement learn from 2010, come to understand why we lost where we did, and reject the conventional Republican wisdom that only serves to undermine our cause. Surrendering to liberalism, while claiming victory as a Republican, is a defeat for conservatism. And it is precisely those types of defeats Republicans have been fostering for too long, damaging our movement and, ultimately, their own brand in the process.

Of course, as Jimmie Bise notes, this criticism simply misses the point of what Christie said today, and also manages to ignore the political realities of states like Delaware:

It is obvious that Castle would make a far better Senator compared to Chris Coons who will be the Senator. In other words, had the Tea Parties shows a bit more discretion and wisdom, they most likely would not be looking at a reliable progressive vote in the Senate but someone who would side with Republicans at least as often as he would Democrats.

That’s not to say that Castle would have been our bestest buddy. We would have had to fight with him at least as often as we would with the Maine sisters, but we wouldn’t have to fight him all the time. I’m not big-shot blogger like my friend Dan, but even I know that someone who votes with conservatives half the time is much better than one who will never vote with conservatives. It’s better to have someone you have to drag to your side five or six times a year rather than someone you will have to pluck from the lap of Harry Reid.  I might even describe such a person as really good compared to the alternative.

Exactly, and considering the fact that it was readily apparent from both the polls and the election results that the candidate that Christie criticized never had a realistic chance to win the election, while Castle had a record of winning statewide elections going back to 1980, suggesting that thinking it would be better to have Mike Castle in the Senate than Chris Coons is “surrendering to liberalism” represents the kind of philosophy that virtually guarantees permanent minority status. Mike Castle was a viable candidate in Delaware. Christine O’Donnell was not. These are facts, arguing with them is really rather pointless. As is showering unwarranted support, attention, and money on a candidate who cannot possible win.

Letting the perfect be the enemy of the good is rarely a good idea, and the fact that there are now two Senate seats in Delaware that are likely to be controlled by Democrats for the foreseeable future rather than just one should stand as a lesson to those who demand purity even when it’s suicidal.

And one final note.

When you start seeing people like Chris Christie being attacked for not being conservative enough, you know that the right is in danger of going off the rails. Or at least some parts of it.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2010, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. DC Loser says:

    When you start seeing people like Chris Christie being attacked for not being conservative enough, you know that the right is in danger of going off the rails. Or at least some parts of it.

    Well, what took them so long? This is going to be fun.

  2. ponce says:

    “Well, what took them so long? This is going to be fun.”

    I agree about the fun part but parts of the Right have been crazy for as long as i can remember.

    Back in the 60s, my neighbor used to hand out “Get U.S. out of the U.N.” pamphlets instead of candy.

  3. TG Chicago says:

    “the right is in danger of going off the rails.”

    Also: McCain is in danger of losing the 2008 Presidential election.

  4. sam says:

    “The establishment GOP is far better at vetting candidates and putting forward winning campaigns. What we need there is more synergy, by continuing to take back the Republican party over time. It is the Tea Party that is doing precisely that, not Chris Christie and certainly not Powerline.”

    I agree wholeheartedly. And I wish the Tea Party all the success in the world in its task of destroying the establishment Republicans. Is there someplace I can send a donation in the furtherance of this noble goal?

  5. Again, the Tea Party has nothing to do with principle, it’s about identiy politics pure and simple. If you criticize the tribe in front of outsiders, you are automatically the enemy.

  6. Andrew McGibbon says:

    The major logical error I see so many make is the assumption that Mike Castle would have won. Mike Castle failed to defeat a political neophyte with huge negatives. How was he going to defeat a solid liberal in a solidly blue state? By being a wishy washy moderate liberal? Attacking Christie for monday morning quarterbacking the election is stupid, But suggesting that the loss of the Delaware senate seat rests soley on O’Donnell’s shoulders is sophistry. The seat was lost before Castle entered the race when he backed all manner of intrusive big government programs.

  7. sam says:

    @Andrew

    “The seat was lost before Castle entered the race when he backed all manner of intrusive big government programs.”

    How many times had he won state-wide elections prior to his Senate run? Oh yeah, 9 times — and that was a state-wide race as Delaware comprises one House district. He would have beaten Coons. Your argument in incoherent. If he backed all manner of big government programs in a state that, according to you, likes big government programs (it’s a blue state – recall those 9 victories), why would he have lost?

  8. @Andrew

    There are of course no guarantees but it’s indisputable that Castle would’ve had a much better chance of winning than O”Donnell. Of course, anything is better than zero

  9. An Interested Party says:

    I’m sure we shall see this same kind of criticism from Republicans and pushback from conservatives if, say, Sarah Palin is the GOP standard bearer in 2012…

  10. @Andrew:

    What has already been said plus the fact that there is a difference between the primary electorate and the general election electorate.

  11. Steve Plunk says:

    One conservative blogger does not make a firing squad. Jeesh, a little self criticism and debate never hurt anyone either. Glad to see resident Libs jumping on that non event. They’re clearly thirsty for an unraveling that will not come.

    BTW, one lost race is not a lost movement.

  12. wr says:

    And yet somehow Riehl never mentions one obvious, salient fact — O’Donnell was simply not suitable for the Senate. She is an idiot who has apparently never had a real thought in her life. She spouts cliches instead of ideas. And those few ideas that did pass through the vacuum between her ears richcheted between moronic and insane. Riehl has such contempt for this country that he would rather see a dim child elected instead of someone capable of forming a thought, as long as the cliches she spouts are the ones he recites. Despicable.

  13. Michael says:

    his comments today about Christine O’Donnell’s doomed bid for the Senate have made him the focus of ire on the part of one blogger

    Correct me if i’m wrong, but doesn’t a circular firing squad require more than one person?

    When you start seeing people like Chris Christie being attacked for not being conservative enough, you know that the right is in danger of going off the rails.

    When you see “the right” doing that, then it’ll be something to blog about. One blogger with an obsession about O’Donnell hardly counts, he’s like that “Leave Brittany Alone” kid on YouTube.

  14. Andrew McGibbon says:

    Doug stated: “There are of course no guarantees but it’s indisputable that Castle would’ve had a much better chance of winning than O”Donnell. Of course, anything is better than zero”

    Anything? Arlen Specter? Jim Jeffords? Lincoln Chaffee? Anything gets us McCain Feingold CFR and McCain Kennedy amnesty. The anything attitude took us from Holding both houses of congress and the presidency to President Obama, Speaker of the house Pelosi and Senate majority leader Reid.

    Castle is like the recovering alcoholic who thinks he can still drink beer. The voters sent a message to the Republican, That message was simple, It’s time to take the cure

  15. Trumwill says:

    Palin made the claim that exit polls demonstrated that Castle would have lost as well. Does anyone know if this claim is true? If so, it demonstrates a pretty dead horse that Christie shouldn’t have spent any time beating. A loss a loss, ultimately. Perhaps it’s possible that with Castle on the ticket there would have been a different turnout… but perhaps not in which case we would be hearing about how O’Donnell would have won that race.

  16. JKB says:

    Attacking Christie for having an opinion is foolish. His comment wasn’t an attack just an observation. On the other hand, if the Republican elite want to elect moderate Republicans, they need to turn out the go along to get along Republicans instead of thinking those who want real change instead of just another stint of the same old Republicans that were tossed four years ago.

    Whine about Castle all you want but O’Donnell did pretty good given her personal weaknesses and the immediate signals by DE and national Republicans against her. So their boy didn’t win the primary, so they decided that they’d just give the seat to the Dems by attacking their candidate with tantrums right after the primary. Sure they figured out that wouldn’t endear them to the active voters so they backtracked but the damage was done. So everyone just needs to accept that O’Donnell was a wacky candidate, the Republicans decided to cede the seat rather than keep their mouths shut and let O’Donnell take her chances, and that’s just the way it is.

    Castle apparently wouldn’t have beaten Coons if you follow the exit polling rather than the early polling.

  17. mpw280 says:

    So we have a circular firing squad of one blogger who didn’t like one comment by Christie and it is the end of the world for conservatives? Last I checked one does not make up a squad, nor can one make a circle as well. So a single small voice is going to mean the end of Christie and the Republican party, we all saw how that worked out from two years ago when the Democrats were going to rule for all time due to their election wins, umm that didn’t work out so well did it? Taking an isolated voice and applying it to the whole of the party so you can claim that the tigers are going to eat their young is just as easily applied to the Dem party now as some Dems had to renounce their allegiance to Obama in order to get reelected, I didn’t hear you crowing about that development though. mpw

  18. sookie says:

    >>> @Andrew

    “The seat was lost before Castle entered the race when he backed all manner of intrusive big government programs.”

    How many times had he won state-wide elections prior to his Senate run? Oh yeah, 9 times — and that was a state-wide race as Delaware comprises one House district. He would have beaten Coons. Your argument in incoherent. If he backed all manner of big government programs in a state that, according to you, likes big government programs (it’s a blue state – recall those 9 victories), why would he have lost? <<<

    Andrew is exactly right. Winning your district, even multiple times as a Republican Representative, in a big blue state, is different that winning state wide a Senate seat. And he only did so by being largely purple (as opposed to red) in the issues he voted for.

    I'm not particularly an O'Donnell fan but there is no guarantee he would have won. None. And the voters who vote the primary are the ones who get to decide who goes up for bat in the General.

    What was silly as Republicans was to continue to kick O'Donnell once she won the primary…. that is if you really wanted that shot at turning the seat over. Support her or shut up.

    The Tea Party didn't pick all winners (hmmm did the Republican or Democrat machine pick all winners??). Republicans far and wide had better quit gripping about the times the TP backed losers. They are largely responsible for the motivated turn out that brought home the bacon in the form of a huge turn over at the state and local level, not to mention the House and the gains in the Senate. If the Republicans don't walk the walk, they'll be largely responsible for voting them back out.

  19. Tlaloc says:

    “The major logical error I see so many make is the assumption that Mike Castle would have won. Mike Castle failed to defeat a political neophyte with huge negatives.”

    Castle failed to defeat O’Donnel in the hugely partisan primary so that means he would have failed in the general election…um…well because!

    Seriously do you guys have any idea how to formulate a logical argument? I mean even the first inkling of how NOT to base an argument on a tissue thin assumption anyone can blow apart in 5 seconds? Or are you trying to lull us into a false sense of confidence by pretending your severely retarded?

  20. sam says:

    @Sookie

    “Andrew is exactly right. Winning your district, even multiple times as a Republican Representative, in a big blue state, is different that winning state wide a Senate seat.”

    Uh, you must have missed the part where I mentioned that a Congressional race in Delaware is a state-wide race in Delaware — the state only has one district.

  21. Steve Verdon says:

    Tlaloc,

    Castle failed to defeat O’Donnel in the hugely partisan primary so that means he would have failed in the general election…um…well because!

    Precisely. Never mind that old bromide about how during the primary you run in the direction of your party right/left, then during the general election you run back towards the center. So Castle didn’t make it over to the right far enough and lost to someone more extreme. Then that extremist loses when the more moderate general election takes place.

    Seriously do you guys have any idea how to formulate a logical argument? I mean even the first inkling of how NOT to base an argument on a tissue thin assumption anyone can blow apart in 5 seconds? Or are you trying to lull us into a false sense of confidence by pretending your severely retarded?

    Ohhh, that is going to leave a mark.

  22. Don L says:

    The Democrats seek power to change the nation into some version of government controlled utopia while the the GOP establishment cares not one hoot about the dangerous shennanigans of the democrats because they are perfectly content with being number two.

    Just as some people are content living on welfare and only get upset when someone seeks to stop their lfestyle (and checks) so the GOP establishment sees the upraised citizenry as the real threat to their status quo mentality and has come out fighting against, of all things their own citizenry.

    The citizenry has long understood that the entrenched GOP doesn’t have their best interest at heart – fire them, replace them, shove them aside – they are little more than impediments to constitutionally based democracy.

  23. Peter H says:

    Being from Jersey, you think Snookie might have known that Delaware’s House seat is a statewide seat. On the other hand, it appears that Snookie can’t even spell her name correctly.

  24. sookie says:

    >> @Sookie

    “Andrew is exactly right. Winning your district, even multiple times as a Republican Representative, in a big blue state, is different that winning state wide a Senate seat.”

    Uh, you must have missed the part where I mentioned that a Congressional race in Delaware is a state-wide race in Delaware — the state only has one district. <<

    You're correct. I did miss that. But that really doesn't address the point that there was no guarantee that Castle would win. Several 'previous winners' didn't this time.

    Delaware has a primary system to chose its candidate, so we're to support that system when it picks the 'correct' candidate and slam the stupid voters when it doesn't?

    I was never too high on O'Donnell but I wasn't too high on Castle either… and on top of that it's not my decisions to make but the voters of Delaware. I do think that when the primary is over the party needs to get behind the people's choice for that party. At least don't do the oppositions work for them because the 'shoe in' candidate didn't win.

    Maybe our country would be better off with fewer shoe-in's, who are 70ish and been in office for several decades.

  25. junyo says:

    Tea Partiers are essentially a slightly more pragmatic wing of the Libertarian Party, using the Republican party apparatus to get elected. The thing about that is Libertarians have never understood “Letting the perfect be the enemy of the good is rarely a good idea…” That phrase simply doesn’t compute. Any concession to political reality is a surrender to EVIL! Which explains their consistent electoral success. And the problem with reading too much into the last election is, the Tea Party/Republicans didn’t win so much as Democrats went out of their way to eff things up so badly that in a lot of races their opponent essentially was “anyone else”. So missing the chance to take the Delaware seat, and send Harry Reid home so you could make some point about idealogical purity, is stupid, but par for the course with Libertarians. And now the Republican party is infested with them so, good luck with that in the next election, when you won’t have a 10 point ‘throw the bums out’ factor in your favor.