Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Infighting

There’s a special election in a congressional district in New York to replace Rep. John McHugh (R-NY) who resigned to become President Obama’s Secretary of the Army. The race, however, isn’t just between Republican Dede Scozzafava and Democrat Bill Owens. There’s also Doug Hoffman from the Conservative Party, and the lines have been drawn between the national Republicans like Newt Gingrich, who supports Ms. Scozzafava, and Sarah Palin and Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), who support Mr. Hoffman.

Palin and Pawlenty cast the contest as a fight for the direction of the GOP. Palin said her endorsement would be a message to party leaders of “no more politics as usual,” and Pawlenty said that “we cannot send more politicians to Washington who wear the Republican jersey on the campaign trail but then vote like Democrats in Congress.”

Gingrich insisted that the special election should not be interpreted as a conservative litmus test and that his endorsement of Scozzafava was entirely about respecting local party leaders.

Mr. Hoffman, who is apparently new to politics, is being coached by Dick Armey, the former Congressman from Texas and sponsor of the tea-baggers, but his work seemed to be cut out for him when he sat down for an interview with the editorial board of the Watertown Daily Times.

A flustered and ill-at-ease Mr. Hoffman objected to the heated questioning, saying he should have been provided a list of questions he might be asked. He was, if he had taken the time to read the Thursday morning Times editorial raising the very same questions.

Coming to Mr. Hoffman’s defense, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, who accompanied the candidate on a campaign swing, dismissed regional concerns as “parochial” issues that would not determine the outcome of the election. On the contrary, it is just such parochial issues that we expect our representative to understand and be knowledgeable about, if he wants to be our voice in Washington.

What was it that the late Tip O’Neill, one-time Speaker of the House, said? Something about “all politics is local”?

It’s very entertaining to watch this little election take on the aspect of the national battle between the right and the far-right. Knock yourself out, folks; it may just end up that the winner is Mr. Owens.