The Republicans Blew It on Specter

Once again, the Republican right got what it wished for — ridding the party of another moderate.

The Club for Growth, which worked with Pennsylvania Republicans and certain forces within the Senate, was successful in getting its wish — Pat Toomey to once again challenge Arlen Specter in a GOP primary. The moderate Republicans left the party in droves in Pennsylvania and switched to the Democratic Party. And the state has a closed primary, so Democrats and independents could not vote for Specter.

As David Frum, my pragmatic conservative friend, pointed out on a show we did together this morning, a Toomey victory over Specter would have been sure political death in Pennsylvania. The Democrat’s victory would have been assured. So why did the Republicans allow this to happen? Do they have a death wish?

The Club for Growth and the far right have done this across the country over the last few election cycles — nominating people so out of touch that they lose. They passed up moderate Republicans in the state of Idaho and put a looney, Bill Sali, in Congress, only to lose to a Democrat. In Idaho, where McCain beat Obama by nearly 2-to-1, a Democrat!

Now, the Republicans are faced with a shrinking political tent — only 28 percent of Americans consider themselves members of the GOP, the lowest number since Gallup began asking the question. This is the party of Palin and Limbaugh and Hannity, with a touch of old Newt thrown in, not a prescription for any “club for growth.”

Who else can they drum out of the party? Who else can they challenge in a primary — Maine centrist Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins? What is this doing to those 18- to 35-year-old voters who are forming their opinions? Are they telling them that there is no place for anyone with a modicum of moderation in their views in this party?

I hate to give advice to Republicans but, really, do you have to destroy the party in order to save it?