The political gods can be terribly cruel. What has happened to the Republican Party in the past week is the ultimate reward for their having created the Tea Party in 2009. Until Dick Armey, the former Republican Majority Leader in the House of Representatives under Tom DeLay, got his K Street lobbyist buddies to bankroll the Tea Party, it was a disorganized rabble of people whose mental capacity was stretched to come up with the slogan “Fed Up!”. With the financial help of radical conservative Republicans, the Tea Party grew, and in the 2010 congressional elections about 80 Tea Partiers were elected to the the House of Representatives and about a half dozen to the Senate. State Tea Party organizations have also grown and were responsible for Todd Akin’s victory in the recent senatorial primary. I am sure that Todd Akin had no desire to be on the front page of the New York Times, a reflection of the confusion he has created within the Republican Party..
While his loyal, radical, religious fundamentalists are still strongly supporting Akin, the leaders of the Republican Party in Missouri and the Republican National Committee are engaged in a futile effort to get him to resign. As my friend Alan says, “That’s never going to happen. He gets his political directions from on High, and that mission easily eclipses the welfare of the Republican Party.” The irony is that he is forcing Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, against their previously stated positions, to state publicly that they are now not in favor of compelling a woman impregnated by rape to bare the child. While this may satisfy more informed elements of the Republican Party, it will certainly dismay the Evangelical Tea Party core, so it is a loser either way.
Romney and Ryan would dearly love to be talking about Paul Ryan’s budget and other fiscal matters. Here they are wading up to their hips in the mire of social issues that can have no other effect than to continue mass confusion in their party the week before it meets in Tampa for its national convention. There was an article in the New York Times yesterday that mentioned the impact of this controversy on congressional districts in New York, Illinois and California. Because of redistricting Democratic congressional candidates had a bit of an advantage, and with this issue added to their campaigns it is now becoming more and more obvious that the Democrats have a really good chance to regain control of the House of Representatives. I make this based on the third law passed by the Republican in the House in 2011. H.R. 3 is the embodiment of the Akin-Ryan position that victims of rape and incest must carry their attackers child to term, which was approved 251-175. With the exception of five who did not vote, every Republican supported the bill. Of the 192 Democrats, only 16 voted Yes and and 175 voted no. Accordingly, the entire Republican Party, despite what protestations the Romney campaign makes, supports the original Akin-Ryan position. That means that every incumbent Republican in a swing district will be attacked in some manner for this extreme position.
The Tea Party impact on the senatorial election is equally interesting. In 2010, if the Republicans had nominated mainstream candidates in Nevada, Colorado and Delaware, they would have won control of the U.S. Senate. Instead, the Tea Partiers they chose were all defeated. This year, the Republicans have repeated their 2010 mistake already in Maine, Indiana and Missouri. If Democrats are successful in all of those races, it is very likely that the Democrats will retain control of the U.S. Senate, thus again snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
Now, if you haven’t had enough “sturm und drang” the Republican convention is opening in Tampa next week. Since the Fourth Article of the U.S. Constitution prohibits the imposition of cruel and unusual punishment, I don’t intend to see any of it. However, since this is the hurricane season and if a threat does develop, the only other thing that can happen to this hapless Republican campaign is to be blown across the peninsula and into the Gulf of Mexico. I am sure the highlights will be presented very forcefully and dramatically on MSNBC