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Posted by on Apr 11, 2014 in Politics | 4 comments

The Talk Radio Party? (Guest Voice)

146102_600 (1)The Talk Radio Party?
by Michael Reagan

So what does the Tea Party want this fall?

A repeat of 2010, or a repeat of 2012?

The Tea Party succeeded spectacularly in 2010.

Its principled enthusiasm put Republicans back in charge of the House of Representatives and, if the Tea Party hadn’t been so stupid in several races, it should have given the GOP control of the Senate.

In 2010 Tea Party favorites Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Mike Lee won primaries and went on to win senate seats in Florida, Kentucky and Utah.

But the Tea Party also won several other Republican primaries with candidates that turned out to be total embarrassments.

Remember Christine O’Donnell in Delaware?

She defeated U.S. Rep. Michael Castle in the GOP primary for an open Senate seat. Then she had to spend all fall explaining to voters why she was not a witch.

Castle would have won that seat in a walk. But O’Donnell was almost laughed out of the state, losing 56-40 and handing Democrats a Senate spot they should never have had.

In 2010 two other shaky Tea Party-backed primary victors, Sharron Angle in Nevada and Ken Buck in Colorado, suffered similar fates in the general election.

In 2012 it was the same dumb story — rousing Tea Party primary victories that thrilled conservative talk-show hosts in May but guaranteed GOP losses in the fall.

Yes, Ted Cruz won big in Texas. But only four of the 16 Senate candidates backed by the Tea Party won in the fall.

It wasn’t pretty in 2012.

After the Tea Party primaried GOP incumbent Sen. Dick Lugar of Indiana, its candidate Richard Mourdock went on to say some really stupid things about abortion and got his butt whipped in the fall, 50-44.

And of course who can forget the great Todd Akin, the Republican House member from Missouri who was going to defeat Sen. Claire McCaskill — until he started blathering about “legitimate rape” and his campaign tanked.

Now we’re getting ready for 2014 and the Tea Party still hasn’t learned how not to shoot itself in both feet. It’s still putting up primary candidates who clearly are not ready for primetime — or any time.

In Texas the Tea Party ran Rep. Steve Stockman in the March primary against sitting Senator John Cornyn.

Stockman, who gave up his House seat and barely campaigned, will be remembered most for giving away barf bags for every $10 contribution.

A few people may have thought that was cute or funny stuff, but all it did was make the Tea Party — and the GOP — look incompetent and foolish. Especially when Cronyn won by 58-19 percent.

Then there’s Kentucky, where Matt Bevin is the Tea Party candidate challenging incumbent Senator Mitch McConnell in the May 20 primary.

Last week, after he was “caught” speaking at a rally meant to build support for legal cockfighting in the state, Bevin defended himself by saying he was there because it was a state rights rally and he didn’t know it was a cockfighting rally.

OK, so he’s either lying or really stupid. In either case, he’s a lousy candidate and the Tea Party should ask him to do the Free World a favor and quit.

The Tea Party zealots who haven’t learned from their mistakes in 2010 and 2012 are trying their best to screw up the GOP’s chances to win the Senate this fall.

Where does the Tea Party find these people to run in primaries? Most important, why do they offer them up as legitimate Republican candidates?

The Tea Party bosses have been listening to too much talk radio. They seem to think that what makes a good Republican candidate is someone who sounds like a talk radio host.

But talk radio is all about bombast and attracting callers, not about winning elections.

If Republicans are going to win general elections in 2014 and beyond, we’ve got to put up principled conservative candidates who sound like senators, congressmen and governors — not kooks.

Copyright ©2014 Michael Reagan. Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of “The New Reagan Revolution” (St. Martin’s Press). He is the founder of the email service and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Visit his websites at and Send comments to [email protected] Follow @reaganworld on Twitter. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

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  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    For a change, Reagan makes some, partial sense without even mentioning his father.

    Yes, those Tea Party idiots and zealots grossly misspeak all too often and they deserve to lose.

    But Reagan forgets an even more serious aspect. The fact that his GOP cronies (BTW, did you catch the ‘Cronyn’ sp.?)are guilty not just of misspeaking but of much more shameful ‘misdoing.’

    The question is, will they be held accountable for such come November 2014, and 2016?

  • SteveK

    But talk radio is all about bombast and attracting callers, not about winning elections.

    Michael, your confession was long overdue but still very much appreciated… And accepted. Thank you.

  • petew

    If the Republican party ever decides to heed the advice of Michael Reagan, there is a chance that their candidates may actually appeal to large numbers of voters, who, although not liberal, still have the capacity to use reason once in a while. Otherwise, more of the same will only lead to, more of the same–continued GOP losses, or victories which just barely elect some pretty meager and unappealing candidates.

    Personally, I think the only Republican candidates in the 2012 primary who made any sense at all (like Gingrich with his disapproval of social engineering on the left or the right) And Rand Paul (who dared to speak honestly about his own political beliefs), were the ones with the most political credibility. But true to form, they were exiled just for having a toe hold on reality and, actually making a few intelligent statements.

    If smarter and more reality oriented Republicans make their ideas known, perhaps I can then, tolerate some candidates that they run in the 2014 elections. However, Tea Party ideology always seems to demand conformity to its own madness before it backs any candidates. And, as a liberal Democrat, I truly hope that their own brand of stupidity will continue to be a signature characteristic that distinguishes their candidates from other more real and sane candidates—thus keeping them from fooling the many sensible voters who may, as a result, vote differently this time around than they did in 2010!

  • cjjack

    Oddly enough, Bill Maher’s “New Rules” segment ended with him comparing the GOP to talk radio…an echo chamber.

    Watching that and reading this, it strikes me that the one thing missing from both talk radio and our political process is debate.

    Talk radio (as Mr. Reagan well knows) has long since ceased to be about debate. There are no nationally syndicated shows (NPR excepted) where two sides of an issue are debated.

    The format for AM talkers – some now migrating to FM – is that the host blathers on for the first quarter hour or so about the latest thing he is (and you should be) outraged about. Then there’s commercials, news, and “traffic and weather together.” Second half of the hour features carefully screened callers who are similarly outraged, and maybe one lone dissenter plucked from the phone lines that the now frothing mad host can verbally abuse.

    The devoted listener is presented with the case that whatever the host is prattling on about is a serious issue, and the only debate comes from maybe one hapless liberal who is clearly wrong about everything. Then the format repeats.

    “Coming up at the top of the hour, let me tell you about this…gosh it is so outrageous I can barely contain my anger…and you’ll be angry too! More after this message…”

    Of course the Tea Party votes for blowhards who shout down any attempt at debate or compromise. That’s the format – not just on the air, but in real life now.

    If Republicans are going to win general elections in 2014 and beyond, we’ve got to put up principled conservative candidates who sound like senators, congressmen and governors — not kooks.

    So says a member of the kook brigade. As a former boss of mine was fond of saying, “the problem is you.” If you wanted principled candidates who sound like senators, etc., you and your fellow talkers shouldn’t have spent the last couple decades bringing the kooky.

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