My Apologies, Richard, If Doug Hoffman Wasn’t Radical Enough

November 08, 2009

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Was his platform mushy? OK, so why did Frank Rich write not just one, but two columns telling us that Hoffman was a dangerous right-wing extremist?

You have talked, Richard, about the tendency of the Official Conservative Movement to drift leftward by the process of successively purging its right wing. In NY23, the GOP nominated Dede Scozzafava—almost certainly the most liberal Republican in the New York state assembly—and then threatened to purge anyone who did not support her. Instead, because of the success of Hoffman’s candidacy, Scozzafava essentially purged herself, pulling the plug on her campaign and then endorsing the Democrat, Bill Owens.

Whatever else results from this, it is at least certain that Scozzafava’s career as a Republican is over. Furthermore, the campaign exposed the political bankruptcy of the New York GOP establishment and the cluelessness of the National Republican Congressional Committee. Even such a mainstream Republican as Erick Erickson is demanding that heads roll at the NRCC.

The Hoffman campaign was the vehicle by which these things were accomplished, and drew into its ranks many who had been disillusioned and alienated by the leftward tendency—the “me-too-ism” of moderate Republicans—that you describe. That Hoffman didn’t run as your kind of conservative is admitted. Yet his thumb-in-the-eye posture toward the GOP establishment attracted support from many such people. What develops going forward remains to be seen. To denounce it all as unworthy is to discourage your readers from involvement in politics, a course that would seem to guarantee the triumph of the Left.

The Republican drift toward meaningless has been arrested, and there is hope that this drift might actually be reversed. You are free to stand aside and declare that everything is hopeless, that such efforts are irrelevant. Ah, but you should have heard the glee in the voice of that fellow when he yelled into his cell-phone Tuesday night: “Guess who will not be representing the 23rd District? Dede Scozzafava!”

A small victory, perhaps, but let us hope not the last of its kind.

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