RINOs are Hypocrites? Who knew?

Washington Post op-ed columnist Kathleen Parker recently made a case for a concerted effort from moderate Republicans to “take back the Republican Party.” (Here)  In fact, she calls for a “RINO rebellion.”  The trouble she sees is that taking over a party requires zeal, and RINOs are just sane people.  This yields a zinger:

First, sane people are too busy Being Normal to organize. No, “normal” is not a relative term. We all know what normal is, and it doesn’t involve carrying gigantic photos of aborted fetuses to political conventions.

That’s pretty funny.  (And, if I’m not mistaken, a step toward pro-choicing the Republicans?)  Regardless, this suggestion to draw the Republican party closer to the center has yielded some criticism.  Matt Purple over at the American Spectator is up to run the argument.  Purple’s main line of criticism is that all of Parker’s suggested changes are actually all standard conservative commitments.

Yes, if only there was a political movement calling for reasonable budgets, more privacy for the individual, upholding the rule of law, and concern for national security. She must imagine hordes of earthy Tea Partiers holding the Post in their gunpowder-stained fingers while recoiling and exclaiming, “Compassion for the disadvantaged?! This paper’s gone to the dogs!”   So Parker’s principles seem pretty similar to those of modern conservatives

Okay, that’s a nice point, I suppose.  Though there’s a difference between ‘reasonable budgets’ and ones that, say, slash the Department of Education or that eliminate the IRS.  It’s all what you’re counting as reasonable, I suppose.  But when Purple turns to candidates, things get weird.

To understand just how vacuous the moderate stance has become, consider their embrace of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. John Avlon praised the Garden State firebrand as a “Northeast Republican” with a “moderate record.” Joe Scarborough defended his accomplishments.… Conservatives can’t even support sequestration without drawing condemnation from the center-right. But Christie cuts funding for AIDS patients and he’s the moderate Moses leading the GOP out of the electoral desert. Again, it’s pure air.

First, to make this point, Purple had to look to other moderate Republicans to find Chris Christie as the candidate of choice. Now, you can’t make a hypocrisy charge stick when the inconsistency is that between different people.  That’s not hypocrisy of the RINOs, that’s just that they disagree.  Second, I’m unsure whether the moderate line was right with Christie in the first place — if he’s such a moderate, then why did Ann Coulter endorse him?  My thought was that hailing him as a moderate was strategic packaging, not accurate description.

Finally, even were all these charges right, I have no idea what kind of point this hypocrisy charge scores with the RINOs.  If it’s that the ‘moderate’ candidate they chose wasn’t all that moderate, then shouldn’t the RINOs just say back:  Well, that’s as moderate as we can get in this party. We’d actually prefer John Huntsman. 

4 thoughts on “RINOs are Hypocrites? Who knew?”

  1. “…a political movement calling for reasonable budgets, more privacy for the individual, upholding the rule of law, and concern for national security.”

    If we go off of actions, not just words, isn’t he talking about the Democratic Party? Flawed though it may be on some of those subjects, still outperforming the Republicans?

  2. Hey Aaron. I wonder if whether some in the Republican Party would say this observation cuts both ways. If those are core Democrat views, then there are more RINOs out there than we realized.

  3. I seem to miss the overall point(s) of this post. In your closing, are you arguing that the hypocrisy charge is weak? If so, that’s at least apparent to me: it seems like an example of cherry-picking. But I admit that I don’t follow the rest.

    To add a data point, Nate Silver recently considered the conservatism scores of potential G.O.P. presidential candidates. In that article, Christie and Huntsman are the least conservative, and Huntsman appears somewhat more conservative. The score does not consider their respective approaches to governing, however, so it’s probably inconclusive.

  4. Hey Sean, a fair question. Here’s my line of thought in the closing:
    Purple says: RINOs say they want moderates, but promote conservatives. So all they have is air.
    I say: A RINO is, nevertheless, a Republican, so must have someone who’s recognizably conservative to conservatives. Christie’s that guy (again, even if somewhat moderate, supported by the far-right, too), but (unfortunately) not Huntsman.
    The point is that electoral politics is regularly a game of triangulating principles and the voting populace, so some inconsistency is part of the game. Especially for moderates.
    Now, your point about cherrypicking a point to undercut Christie’s bona fides as a moderate is well-taken. He may, in fact, be more center-right than Huntsman. But that’s not something a RINO must argue to defend against the hypocrisy charge here. (Though, it would be a much stronger defense, for sure, to say: there’s no inconsistency!)

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