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‘The Republican Jesse Jackson’

Claim: Family Research Council chief making empty, self-serving threats

That’s what Scott McKay, editor of The Hayride, a conservative website that covers Louisiana politics, is calling Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. Perkins pushed Tea Party candidate Rob Maness as an alternative Senate candidate to Republican Bill Cassidy. Maness never had a chance, but he drew enough votes away from Cassidy to force a runoff in December, giving Sen. Mary Landrieu a chance for a Hail Mary pass to save her political career. First, here’s a report from The Hill:

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said he likely won’t support Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) in a runoff against Sen. Mary Landrieu, even if the race would decide control of the Senate.

“I don’t see myself supporting Cassidy,” Perkins told The Hill at a FreedomWorks election-night event. “The only way I would support him, even if the Senate was hanging in the balance, would be with assurances from him on positions and to backtrack on some of the bad votes that he’s taken in Congress.”

Perkins views Cassidy, the three-term congressman, as a “moderate” who doesn’t have a base that can carry him to victory in a runoff.  He supported Col. Rob Maness, a Tea Party candidate who ran to Cassidy’s right, and said that Cassidy will have a “hard time” winning a runoff because of his lack of conservative chops.

That is high-grade BS. Barring some unforeseen catastrophe, Cassidy is going to coast to victory. The national Democrats are giving up on Landrieu, wisely declining to spend big on a lost cause. If Cassidy had garnered only half of Tea Party stalwart Maness’s vote, Cassidy would have won in the first primary. It’s the kind of thing that makes me roll my eyes. But it’s the kind of thing that makes Scott McKay ball up his fists. McKay opens by framing Perkins’s comments to The Hill this way:

What does Jesse Jackson do for a living? He extorts people.

And extortion seems to be a growing racket in politics, because that’s precisely what Tony Perkins, head of the Family Resource Council, tried his hand at last night.


Tony Perkins says he doesn’t see himself supporting Cassidy against Landrieu. And yet the Family Resource Council puts out scorecards on Congress every year. FRC rates Cassidy as a 100. It rates Mary Landrieu as a 15.

Here’s a bit more from Perkins last night…

“We support conservatives that are going to advance our core values,” Perkins said. “Someone that has a track record of working against those core value issues is not someone that I’m interested in supporting.

Perkins’ own organization gives Cassidy a 100 percent score, and Perkins accused Cassidy of working against FRC’s core values.

Why would the head of an organization which has put out a scorecard giving Bill Cassidy an 85-point advantage over Mary Landrieu refuse to support Cassidy?

It boggles the mind, and it destroys Tony Perkins’ credibility.

McKay says that Perkins is desperately trying to maintain credibility after his candidate lost to Cassidy by 27 points the other night. Lenar Whitney, the candidate Perkins endorsed for the Sixth Congressional District, and campaigned for, pulled a whopping seven percent of the total.  With that kind of record, it’s hard to see what, exactly, Bill Cassidy has to fear from the head of the Family Research Council, who is risking the reputation of his national organization to play personal politics in his home state, where he demonstrably has very little political pull.

If the head of the FRC hesitates to endorse a candidate with a 100 percent rating from the organization (versus Mary Landrieu’s 15 percent FRC rating), what is the point of the FRC’s political operation? How can people who follow the FRC’s voting advice trust the organization’s judgment when its leader seems so compromised by his personal political interests?

UPDATE: From Edward Hamilton:

I don’t want to defend Perkins (or for that matter, Jackson) in any specific way, but I do think that the coalition-building nature of American politics has the effect of forcing the “crazy end” of the political spectrum to double down on its tendencies toward petulance and irrationality in order to wield maximum influence. Christian conservatives function in the Republican coalition the same way that blacks do for the Democrats — as a population so deeply alienated from the other camp (for reasons partially their fault, but partially the fault of their antagonizers) that they have virtually no choice but to function as a monolithic and unvariegated voting bloc, with little room to plausibly make the case that they’ll ever defect. This makes them a cheap date, and also an easy date to stiff. And honestly, both of them do get stiffed on a regular basis, getting little more than periodic lip service and a nominally friendly hearing for impossibly utopian posturing (“We’ll get that Human Life Amendment passed for you just as soon as we have that Senate supermajority — next election cycle for sure!”) Meanwhile, the industry and national defense elements of both coalitions get all kinds of practical regulatory and appropriations paybacks in return for spreading around money in a vastly more disloyal way.

In order to exert the same level of influence as swing voter (or donor) elements of their respective coalitions naturally possess, they need to act completely unhinged and constantly threaten to take actions that make no philosophical sense at all. This means that the more successful and influential leaders from those blocs are always going to be the irrational ones, since the rational ones will be sensible enough to admit that they are such a reliable source of support that they can exert no negotiating leverage at all.

From Ryan Booth (who was until this year a leader in the Louisiana GOP):

In 2009, Cassidy was one of nine Republican congressmen who voted for hate-crimes legislation that made it a federal crime to assault someone for their sexual orientation.

That’s it. That one vote is what Tony Perkins will forever hate Cassidy for. That’s the whole story.

Really? Man. To be clear, I don’t agree with the concept of hate crimes (all crime is a hate crime, in my view), and I would in principle vote against all hate crimes legislation. But if this is the only reason you have to hate on Bill Cassidy, something is seriously wrong with you.



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