Tales of Hoffman: Electability

At the end of the line, he just didn’t have it. Bill Owens, and the national Democratic leadership, dealt a serious blow to the political wing of the “tea party” movement, and probably killed whatever nascent influence on reality Glenn Beck was developing. Apparently, although he and the Republican Party can drive debate on polemical half-issues, they can’t win elections on them, even in districts Republicans have held since the 19th century.

Whatever else comes out of tonight’s elections, we can be content in that knowledge, and remind ourselves that Creigh Deeds is NOT an Obama proxy. Really, reading Deeds’ loss as a rejection of Obama would be like blaming Gen. McClellan’s abysmal Civil War generalship on President Lincoln. You go into a campaign with the nominee you have, not the one you want.

And, N.B. to Erick Erickson at RedState: deploying your entire party infrastructure to destroy a popular member of your own party, and then failing to capitalize on it, is the very definition of defeat.

N.B. – The last clause of the first paragraph was added late. – Ed.

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54 comments

  1. “Bill Owens, and the national Democratic leadership, dealt a serious blow to the political wing of the “tea party” movement, and probably killed whatever nascent influence on reality Glenn Beck was developing.”

    Really? Let me ask this question: If a Democrat loses an election by 4%…does that signal defeat or a ‘serious blow’ to Democratic influence? One election does not a movement make.

    1. I’d say Mike has a point. The teabaggers are going to have to undermine and backstab their more moderate allies in a few more elections before people stop voting for them. Though it is pleasant to see a majority of upstate New Yorkers will choose a competent Democrat over an ideologically motivated insurgent.

      1. Conservatives are going to continue to make these exploratory efforts in various elections. NY was clearly a bridge too far. Maybe Pennsylvania isn’t. Or Minnesota. Or maybe the trick with NY is just to moderate the message a bit. 4% is a fairly slim margin when you throw in the votes that Scozzafava siphoned off.

  2. Mike, you’re reading the margin wrong. 4% between Hoffman and Owens, sure, but Dede’s 5% supplements rather than detracts from Owens’ victory. Dede DROPPED OUT OF THE RACE and still polled a serious number of voters. That’s a ringing rejection of Hoffman, more than Owens (especially using your logic, which would set Owens and Dede as equals), and brings our margin to 9%. North country voters picked experienced, intelligent, moderate politicians over an out of depth Sarah Palin-esque ideologue 55%-45%. That’s huge.

    Not to mention that the north country is your turf. You’re SUPPOSED to win there.

    1. I don’t agree that all of Scozzafava’s votes were pulled from Hoffman. The point is, a hard-core conservative was a viable candidate. That shows an electorate that is open to a message with a few moderate tweaks.

      1. The point about Scozzafava’s votes is that they weren’t for Hoffman. Certainly, had there only been two names on the ballot, those votes would have broken for Hoffman, but it’s not how many might have voted for Owens or just stayed home.

        And yeah, Hoffman was a viable candidate, but so was Palin, so I’m not sure it’s more commendable than sad.

        1. Brilliant, Kris.

          Except I disagree that Scuzzlebutt’s votes would’ve broken for Hoffman. After all, didn’t Mike spend all of yesterday arguing that Scuzzlebutt and Owens were basically the same?

          (Amusement with Wonkette’s nickname is NOT meant to convey disrespect for Scozzafava. I’m actually a fan.)

          1. Well, maybe exit polls figured out that breakdown?

  3. Your guys put it all on the line for Hoffman — Palin, Pawlenty, basically ALL the national party minus Gingrich — and still lost, even in a district where demographics and all polls favored your dude. It’s hard not to see that as a resounding rejection of that type of Republicanism, especially considering the money and reputational value that was pumped into the district. Time to move on.

    1. All it really demonstrated was that you have to moderate the social conservatism in some states. The rest of it was fine. As I said, this was exploratory and it will happen a lot more next year, just as Democrats will be looking for ways to eliminate Blue Dogs.

  4. Sorry Kris, I don’t think there were exit polls :(. At least, at the four sites I visited, not even a vestige of polling, and only lukewarm campaign presence. Odd.

    As for that, Mike, remember, this was a district BUILT to be won by a conservative Republican. Soooo you’re going to have to moderate in those districts, which bodes well for us in the more centrist ones.

    1. This pushes us in exactly the direction we need to go. Social issues are not going to be that important next year. It’s going to be all about the economy. And given the NJ and VA results, I’d say Americans are quickly losing faith in Democrats to deliver.

  5. I’m totally fine with a Republican party that gives up on social issues. I think that’s better for the country.

    As for VA and NJ-GOV, Virginians fairly lost faith in Creigh Deeds (dude was an abysmal campaigner), and Jerseyites lost faith in an incumbent who happened to be a Democrat. To both, I say “meh.”

    1. No one said anything about giving up. The victory for anti-gay marriage folks in Maine is a good indicator that the country is still socially conservative. We just need to not talk about them too much for a couple of election cycles. No biggee.

  6. Generalizing from Maine to anything other than other conservative states is also problematic. Recall that Maine is somewhere just barely right of center, see e.g. Olympia Snowe, and the closeness of the gay marriage issue there revelas that we’ve made headway. Wasn’t so long ago that gay marriage was out of the question. Now we’re drawing even in conservative states? Not good, but not bad either. As Mal Reynolds would say, that ain’t nothin.

    1. 31 states Ames. This isn’t a blip on the radar.

  7. Still, the momentum is on our side — a half-glance at polling over time will show that — and your side is barely holding the line. Five years ago Bush campaigned on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, and won. Today, there’s a bill on the floor to repeal DoMA, and a President in office who’ll sign it. Things are looking up, despite Maine, and we’ll get gay marriage through with a willing Supreme Court eventually, if not sooner through political means.

    1. PLEASE keep advocating the court route. It has been uber-helpful to your cause so far.

      1. What do you mean? Black kids and white kids go to school together, and grow up to get married, and no-one can imagine at time when we thought it shouldn’t be that way. Ditto for the death of anti-sodomy laws, and mandatory discrimination against gays. It has been helpful.

        If you’re referring to abortion, well, that’s a mixed bag, but Roe’s still standing.

        1. Inter-racial marriage was not imposed by the courts. They simply struck down the laws that banned them. If the courts want to strike down gay marriage bans – fine with me. If they try to legalize gay marriage, Democrats will pay at the polls. Guaranteed.

          1. Probably not as much as you think.

            The people strongly opposed to gay marriages seem to be declining sharply. I just hope that it continues.

            http://www.pollingreport.com/civil.htm

            1. Eh, nevermind. There’s a pew survey there that says its going up. So god only knows.

        2. Whoa buddy. Those’re some incredible misunderstandings of the law, right there. No court can “impose” a law as in, co-opt the legislature and force the passage of a bill. All a court can ever do, and has ever done, is strike down existing laws or practices barring or impeding a practice. So saying “Inter-racial marriage was not imposed by the courts. They simply struck down the laws that banned them” is strictly right, I suppose, but betrays a real misunderstanding of what courts do, because the latter implies the former, and the latter is all courts EVER do.

          Similarly, no court could co-opt the legislature and say “make gay marriage legal.” But they could do away with the federal DoMA, and mini-DoMAs, functionally “legalizing” gay marriage. And I imagine they will, once the Supreme Court shifts a little. Their judgment cometh, and that right soon.

          1. The courts could look at any basic marriage law and determine it is un-constitutional based on some kind of equal access grounds. That’s what conservatives oppose and as I said, if the Supreme Court goes there, Democrats will pay at the polls. Conservatives are much, much, much more willing to accept recognition of gay marriage when it comes from the legislature. Why not have the patience and forethought to let that happen? Or is this another case of liberal overexuberance?

            1. Conservatives are much, much, much more willing to accept recognition of gay marriage when it comes from the legislature.

              So that’s why they freaked out and petitioned when the Maine legislature did it? “More willing to accept” doesn’t really mean much if it still doesn’t mean “accept.”

  8. Dream deferred etc etc. Recast that argument: “Why couldn’t The Negroes just wait for the electorate to let them into schools? They’re so uppity!”

    1. Gays have equal access to schools.

    2. LOL! Wow.

      I think Matthew Arnold put it best —

      “And we are here as on a darkling plain
      Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
      Where ignorant armies clash by night.”

      1. What rights do minorities have that gays don’t?

        1. Well, before the hate crimes amendment…

        2. If you’re going to make the argument that gay couples can still marry members of the opposite sex, I’m going to hunt you down and pimp-slap you with a rolled up copy of Loving v. Virginia.

          1. You are comparing black civil rights with the quest for gay marriage – it’s not an equal comparison. Even most conservatives are not suggesting we deny gays basic civil rights of the kind that were denied to blacks. We’re just making the point that marriage is not a civil right. Do you want to argue that it is?

  9. As you can see, the only question is whether homosexuality is a “suspect class” like race. You’re going to lose that argument.

    These statutes also deprive the Lovings of liberty without due process of law in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.

    Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival. Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U.S. 535, 541 (1942). See also Maynard v. Hill, 125 U.S. 190 (1888). To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

    [. . .]

    These statutes also deprive the Lovings of liberty without due process of law in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.

    Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival. Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U.S. 535, 541 (1942). See also Maynard v. Hill, 125 U.S. 190 (1888). To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

    1. I found this line interesting:

      “Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival.”

      I think we both know what they are refering to. What they are saying is that mariage is vital to the survival of a race/species in the sense that marriage was seen to equal procreation. So obviously we take procreation out of the equation…is it still a basic civil right?

      1. You can scan that opinion and look for the words “children,” “procreation,” “babies,” etc., and I guarantee you’re not going to find it. In fact, every court to consider whether marriage is or ought to be contingent upon procreation has rejected that reasoning, SOUNDLY.

        See, e.g., Goodridge v. Dep’t of Health

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodridge_v._Department_of_Public_Health

        Now, you can of course read the opinion to insert your own logic, but that won’t change the fact that it’s not there.

  10. What would be the argument that marriage is not a civil right?

    1. I certainly don’t see it as one. I would liken it to getting a driver’s license. It’s a privelage and the state has the right to limit access, which they do in the form of not only gender restrictions but also restrictions on age, consent, and the blood relations of the individuals.

    2. That doesn’t really answer my question, but okay.

      Even if we accept marriage as a privilege rather than a rights (which seems debatable to me), I assume we can agree that the state should only limit such privileges for non-arbitrary reasons, that is, when a clear public good is served by doing so.

      The public good in not letting untrained or incompetent motorists loose on the public highways seems fairly obvious – but which specific benefits are there in limiting marriage to heterosexual couples?

      1. Ah-ah. The burden of proof is on them. What good is served by letting them marry?

      2. The same good that is served by “letting” anyone marry, presumably? The establishment of stable family units, the proper ordering of property ownership and inheritance, and so forth.

        Now, what good is served by denying these things to a not insignificant minority of the population?

  11. Justice is its own good. -Plato

    Well, I don’t know if he said it like that, but I’m pretty sure he would’ve when asked.

    1. So then we’re right back to the question of fairness. Is a 21 year-old drinking age fair? Is a ban on plural marriages fair? Is it fair that I can’t be an astronaut?

    2. Try to stick to this issue before we go to line-drawing.

      1. You contend that simple ‘fairness’ is enough to change thousands of years of tradition. I say if we set the bar that low, buckle up for what comes next.

      2. It’s farcical to pretend that any of this rests on simple fairness. To get to that argument, you have to ignore the literally hundreds of times each of us have laid out the legal or objective case for gay marriage. Fairness + within the guarantee of equal protection.

        1. So it’s not about fairness. It’s not about making sexual love the soul criteria for marriage. But it IS about justice. However that ‘justice’ does not extend to plural marriages.

          Ames, your case has a lot of cracks in it. I just wish liberals could look beyond the end of their noses.

        2. Mike, the law is about justice. Which I’ve explained before, but you’ve never gone after the legal argument. Since here you dropped it and chose to go after the “BUT WHAT IS JUTSICE LOL” “argument” instead.

          1. ‘Justice’ is a liberal code-word for fairness Ames. Kind of like ‘progressive’ is a code word for ‘very liberal’. So is it not ‘just’ that those seeking plural marriages should be able to have them when all partners consent?

          2. By that logic, the Fourteenth Amendment (meant the Preamble) is also a secret liberal Masonic progressive socialist plot to steal Christmas.

            1. Also, I’ll argue that at the point where you’ve abandoned any semblance of an argument on the issues, and have instead resorting to arguing that justice is bad, I think I win.

              1. Weapons grade there, Ames. You FTW.

              2. I’m not arguing that ‘justice’ is bad at all. As a Catholic the concept of justice is a cornerstone of my faith. What I don’t like is the way that liberals play with the term and use it as a more-important sounding codeword for their rather lowbrow concept of ‘fairness’.

                You claim that justice demands that gays be given the right to marry. But what you really mean is that it’s not fair that straight people get to do some things that gay people don’t. It’s sort of the way my youngest daughter says it’s not fair that my oldest daughter gets to stay up an hour later on school nights.

                What I am suggesting is that your claim to justice/fairness is not rooted in anything more than contemporary cultural whims. Culture has shifted to the point where a majority of liberals think it’s okay for gays to get maried, so suddenly you have found a Constitutional justification for it. Polygamy does not enjoy widespread support so you claim they aren’t a protected class. It sounds very…convenient. That’s why conservatives, especially those of us who understand where the liberal notion of justice is borrowed from, have little respect for justice/fairness as an argument when it’s so clearly arbitrary.

      3. I would note in passing that a certain group of gentlemen back in July of 1776 found the equally elusive and difficult-to-define concepts of ‘equality’ and ‘justice’ compelling enough to change if not thousands, then at least hundreds of years of tradition.

        I’m just sayin’…

  12. Creigh Deeds just plain sucked. I voted for him in the primary since he was the most pro-gun of the three twits running, but if it weren’t for my refusal to vote for anyone who doesn’t support expanded access to abortion, I’d have voted for McDonnell in a heartbeat. Problem is that the Democratic Party’s often accused of being too influenced by intellectual policy wonks with detailed plans for everything, but on all the issues like dealing with the Commonwealth’s ongoing budget deficits (I think we’re up to 5 billion and counting since this time last year… after three rounds of layoffs and across-the-board budget cuts by Kaine), major transportation woes, fratricidal regional competition, it was McDonnell, not Deeds, who outlined detailed plans.

    Actually… it may have been a repudiation of Obama in one sense… Obama strikes me as speaking in platitudes more than specifics, and Deeds was definitely that sort, so I don’t think it’s necessarily a stretch to say our results were a repudiation of Obama’s style.

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