When getting kicked in the balls counts as a win

Ken CuccinelliWho does this remind you of?

Republican Governors Association executive director Phil Cox, whose group has spent nearly $8 million boosting Cuccinelli, firmly rejected the idea that the Virginia race reflected any limitations of conservative ideas. But he allowed that there may be lessons to learn about how you go about delivering a conservative message.

Cox sounds like nearly every Republican in America I heard speak the day after the 2012 election. What people like Cox don’t understand is that there’s a difference between accepting the limits of ideology, and surrendering on everything you believe in and completely caving to the opposition.

Rush Limbaugh joked about the GOP starting up their own abortion factories so they could win over women, but some people actually think that way. Republicans don’t have to do whatever it is that Democrats want on immigration reform for example, to make their policies more acceptable to Hispanics. But they sure as hell can’t get there by just redesigning their logo.

Cuccinelli isn’t just a little too conservative for Virginia, he’s lucky to be in the race at all. Terry McAuliffe is keeping Cuccinelli from being blown out because McAuliffe is a corrupt establishment douche, and it says a lot that people would rather have that than someone as conservative as Ken Cuccinelli is, and in Virginia of all places.

I think the existence of people like Chris Christie perpetuate this misunderstanding. Christie looks like a normal Republican on the issues — cut taxes, cut spending, attack unions and teachers — but doesn’t come off as a perpetual Taliban applicant in the process. At least not most of the time. But that’s not why he’s so popular. Let’s be frank here, anyone who isn’t on the take would be pretty popular in New Jersey.

Without going into that, just consider what’s about to happen. A hated doctarian and predictable establishment Democrat is about to easily beat a viciously right-wing ideologue in purple Virginia — a Tea Party favorite and moderate’s nightmare. Meanwhile no Democrat has been anything but steamrolled in New Jersey, despite being more politically apropos for the electorate there.

If the answer to what ails the GOP is to move further toward the Cuccinelli right, where’s the evidence of that? I’m just not seeing it. Everything points toward a Republican Party that could significantly strengthen its position by putting social conservatism on the back burner in favor of… well, anything else at this point.

Forget about embracing same-sex marriage, Cuccinelli and the Rick Santorum’s and Michele Bachmann’s of the country would do well to keep their mouths shut if they want to win anything. They don’t have to support it and like it, or change their views. But if they can’t accept the reality that the country supports it and thus contrarian views are going to hurt them in elections, they deserve to lose.

What people don’t deserve is to be stuck with people like Terry McAuliffe just because Republicans can’t get their shit together and put forward a candidate who isn’t a raging asshole.

Paul Tenny

Paul Tenny

I'm not a journalist but I do it anyway. I cover elections and have interviewed television writers and producers.
Paul Tenny

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