The Scozzafava Meme
In all the stories about former GOP candidate Dede Scozzafava and why she pulled out the race, there has developed a certain meme as to why she did not win in a three way race: she was a bad candidate.
In more than a few blog posts not only from her detractors, but from those who say they want a more expanded GOP, this meme has stuck and it even has an image, one of Scozzafava going to campaign in front of conservative challenger Doug Hoffman’s headquarters surrounded by Hoffman supporters. For many this is proof positive that Scozzafava was a dunce, a weakling, an all around inferior candidate.
I tend to think most of this is about blaming the victim. Scozzafava might not have an expert political tactician, but it is quite another to blame the outcome of the election in NY-23 as her fault. To make such a charge and ignore what was going on around her is to engage in political blindness.
In a post at the Moderate Voice, guest blogger Jon Wells, writes a whole post based on the Scozzafava Meme. It’s an interesting post. Too bad that it’s not based in reality.
The Scozzafava Meme is made up of many different stories that need to be corrected. I will go through them one by one.
Scozzafava was chosen by a machine. Jon Wells states that Scozzafava was basically chosen by machine politics since she was not chosen by a primary. One might imagine Scozzafava in a smoky room in Upstate New York as the party bosses annointed her the leader. But as Andrew Pavelyev noted, Scozzafava was picked through a fair process, not by some backroom deal. It might not been the way that some conservative activists wanted, which would have been through a primary, but it still on the up and up.
Scozzafava was a liberal. This meme has been impossible to get rid of despite the fact that bloggers have shown that Scozzafava was a classic Republican. Detailed posts by the liberal Albany Project as well my own analysis did not find the liberal that Wells and others seemed to think existed.
So, why do people still insist on call Scozzafava a “radical leftist” as Michelle Malkin did? There are many reasons, but I think two stand out: gay marriage and abortion rights. Scozzafava supported both and to some conservatives, that’s grounds for expulsion from the GOP, even if the rest of the record is conservative. Doug Hoffman was considered the “true conservative” since he opposed both issues.
Sagging poll numbers forced Scozzafava out. This is somewhat true, but only if you ignore the relentless campaign by groups like the Club for Growth to support Hoffman and thus divide the conservative vote. Early polling showed Scozzafava in the lead, but as the attacks wore on and as Hoffman gained more support, then Scozzafava lost out.
If only they picked Hoffman from the get-go, he would have won. I think you have to be on another planet to believe this one. As Pavelyev notes, Hoffman might have been the conservative darling, but he knew nothing about issues affecting the 23rd District. Does anyone really believe that someone who didn’t bother to care about the the area he was going to represent was going win? Does anyone think that a district that voted for Obama in 2008 was going to vote for a conservative Republican?
We Think Moderates Have a Place in the Party. Wells, like some other writers wants to make the case that they really do like moderates, really. They just don’t want “watered-down” versions of a Democrat, that’s all.
Basically, that’s a sweet little lie. It’s a nice way of not seeing yourself as the narrow-minded person that you are.
Of course, they don’t like moderates. They don’t like someone that doesn’t fit the far right mold. As I’ve stated before Scozzafava’s record was not Democratic-lite. But since she had positions that they see as “liberal,” she was not a true Republican.
Many have said that Scozzafava should quite whining since politics is a rough sport. Yes politics is rough and it isn’t for the weak or squemish. That said, it doesn’t obscure the fact that she was done in by people like the Club for Growth. They played their game quite deftly, and were able to leave little fingerprints. They were able to make it look like Scozzafava was an inept fool. It was a game well played and one moderates should remember.
Wells told a good story, but it was just that…a story.