Editorial: Red-meat Republicans
It was called the “Freedom Summit.” Mike Huckabee got into the spirit of the day when he suggested that “there’s more freedom in North Korea sometimes than there is in the U.S.” Donald Trump called the Affordable Care Act “the single greatest lie I have ever witnessed.” Bill O’Brien received an award as New Hampshire Conservative of the Year.
O’Brien was booted out as House speaker after a single term – in January 2013. For more than a year he’s been a has-been.
As for Trump, he’s got a short, selective memory. The Affordable Care Act doesn’t hold a candle to the Bush administration’s deadly lie about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.
And Huckabee? He turned an appealing aw-shucks presidential run in 2008 into a get-rich gig shoveling much harsher stuff on television. If he really thinks North Korea is “sometimes” freer than the United States, he should pick one of those times and move there with Dennis Rodman for a spell.
The crew at the Freedom Summit poses a dilemma for the Republican Party. The Tea Party gave the GOP a jolt of energy, but the day it nominates a Huckabee or a Ted Cruz or a Rick Santorum for president is a day it will rue.
Tea Party energy is what Republicans need this year. There’s a midterm election, which bodes well for the party that does not inhabit the White House. Newt Gingrich told summit-goers to expect a disastrous defeat for Democrats in November.
New Hampshire voters have to look no further than 2010 for an example of what that means. Disastrous was just the word for it. Republicans swept out Democratic majorities in both chambers of the Legislature, and O’Brien and his gang began their reign of terror.
“It wasn’t the establishment that saved the (conservative) movement,” talk show host Laura Ingraham said Saturday. “The Tea Party saved the movement.”
But in New Hampshire, the Tea Party could not govern, and voters noticed. If anything, the political ineptitude, radicalism and over-reaching of Tea Party figures such as O’Brien helped Barack Obama win re-election. And re-election cemented the prospects of the Affordable Care Act.
That hasn’t stopped Republicans from repeating the anti-Obamacare mantra. Sen. Kelly Ayotte told the Freedom Summiteers Saturday that winning U.S. Senate seats in the fall was the key to ditching the Affordable Care Act.
The law has survived a Supreme Court test, a presidential election and a rocky rollout, but both the radical and less-radical elements of the GOP seem united on killing it. More than 7 million people now have insurance under the plan and more will get it before November. Campaigning to cancel their policies, as the Republicans seem bent on doing, is dumb politics.
The Freedom Summit was sponsored by two super PACs – Citizens United and Americans for Prosperity. After the last election, Gingrich declared such super PACs “very dangerous . . . very negative, disruptive to our system.”
If the red meat tossed to the star-struck crowd at the Freedom Summit is any indication, super PACs are dangerous to the Republican Party, too.