Well, not everything, but it’s been a really rough week for the right.
Romney’s Blunt Bungle: First, while Mitt “The Trees are the Right Height” Romney’s victories in Arizona and Michigan could have given his campaign a much-needed boost of confidence from the GOP electorate, he managed to totally flub his position on the “conscience exemption” for religious employers that don’t want to provide contraceptives under their health insurance policies known as the Blunt amendment, reinforcing the narrative that Romney is anything but genuine. Maybe he could have just kept us confused until this morning when the amendment was defeated in the Senate.
Snowe is Falling: On Tuesday, moderate GOP senator Olympia Snowe announced that she would not be seeking reelection, citing a partisan climate that left each party in a “parallel universe.” Politico has a day-after overanalysis that attributes grave importance to the move; the reflections about the establishment-grassroots tension and potential rank-and-file rebellion are all worth your time, but Maine is such a cypher it’s hard to predict her reasons for pulling out. Snowe was an interventionist, pro-environmental regulation, pro-gun control Senator who voted for TARP and the stimulus bill, she may have gotten a rude awakening from the latest survey of the Pine Tree State’s Republican electorate, namely the February 11th primary in which 34 percent of the vote went to Ron Paul. The once-secure seat coming into play means that the Republican Party’s quest to retake the Senate will be that much more difficult. While GOP cheerleaders are quick to point out the state’s Republican Governor and state legislature, that governor only managed 38 percent of the popular vote and the state swung 17 points for Obama in 2008. A source at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee told me this morning that, “we are very excited.” Still, the very fact that 23 Democratic and only 10 Republican seats are up for reelection means it remains likely that the GOP will be able to pull off their coup, but Snowe’s departure will make it that much more difficult.
Authori-tea: And it’s not just the GOP establishment that’s showing signs of weakness this week. After departing Tea Party Patriots, the organization he founded, Mark Meckler has gone on the record with The Daily Caller’s Alex Pappas to talk about troubling “top-down” decision making in the putatively grassroots group.
Koch v. Cato: Last but not least, the Koch brothers are suing for control over the Cato Institute. According to the court brief, they take issue with Director Kathryn Washburn’s handling of her late husband William Niskanen’s shares, which they contend must be offered up for sale first to Cato itself, then to the other shareholders. In Washburn’s absence, the number of stakeholders would be reduced to three, with two of them being the Kochs themselves (Charles was an original founder, David bought in in 1991). It may be a sensible move, especially if Washburn has no vested interest in Cato’s mission, but the whole situation recalls the internecine libertarian battles in which Murray Rothbard, a Cato founder, original stakeholder, and name-er, had his shares confiscated by Charles Koch before being forced out of his Board membership by Ed Crane, who would be the third and only non-Koch stakeholder should Washburn’s shares be repurchased. Rothbard’s ousting was attributed to Crane’s insistence upon compromise and moderating the libertarian message, principally by deemphasizing Austrian economics, and while that focus remains true today, the Kochs also fund the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, arguably the world’s hub of Austrian economic thinking today. Still, the strong-arm tactics feed the narrative that Cato is an astroturf shop for big business.
David Graham at the Atlantic finds some reasons for optimism.