It’s clear the White House perceives news from New York about a Republican moderate in effect being forced out of a Congressional race by conservatives who felt she was not conservative enough as a sign that the Republican party is officially shifting further to the right — and comments made by a White House official on ABC this morning indicate this theme that will emerge again as more inevitable challenges to moderate GOPers continue.
ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos has this item (go to this link to see the video)
Moderate NY Republican Dede Scozzafava’s move Saturday to drop out of the NY-23 Congressional race drew harsh criticism from the President’s top adviser, Valerie Jarrett. She told me this morning on This Week that it shows the Republican party has become, “more and more extreme and more and more marginalized.”
She did say that the White House would love to have the moderate Republican throw her support behind the Democratic candidate Bill Owens over Conservative candidate Doug Hoffman. “It’s rather telling when the Republican party forces out a moderate Republican and I think it says a great deal about where the Republican party leadership is right now,” Jarrett said.
Whether its called a “purge,” “purification,” or making sure that candidates are “real” conservatives and “real” Republicans, the bottom line is that it now appears that moderates in the Republican party — already a nearly vanished species — have a future about as bright as VHS video tapes.
So now the question is going to become: which party can piece together a winning coalition? And what will the elements of that coalition be in this highly fluid, changing ideological environment dominated by the left and right?
The Republicans have been peeling off a good chunk of independent voters, although some argue the growth of independent voters under George Bush was partially due to disgruntled Republicans (moderates and conservatives) straying from the GOP. But that’s almost irrelevant to the central political question which is: which party can put together a winning coalition?
Moderates and centrists aren’t beloved by powerful portions of either political party. So it’s now seemingly a race to see which party offends them most, and which party offends them the least because — for now at least — it’s unlikely that liberals alone or conservatives alone will win elections or congressional majorities. And branding moderates and centrists as closet liberals, closet Republicans, radicals, reactionaries or wishy washy doesn’t exactly win their hearts.
UPDATE: There’s lots of discussion (much of which will disagree with this post) on this issue HERE.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.