‘You know where he stands’

Dave Weigel interviewed a Republican activist from Virginia at the RNC meeting:

According to Chase, what the Republicans needed was more clarity, more conservatism, and more exposing of how the Democrats wanted to run people’s
lives — how they wanted to decide which baby birds got the worms. “I supported Mitt Romney, because John McCain was not a real conservative,” Chase said. Chase has been given new hope by her party’s unanimous vote in the House of Representatives against the stimulus package. Going into [Friday’s] vote for Republican National Committee chairman, Chase supported Katon Dawson, the conservative head of the South Carolina Republican Party. “He’s a fantastic messenger,” Chase explained. “You know where he stands.”

Like you knew where George Allen stood. The operative word here is “you,” by which Jo-Ann Chase means to indicate the conservative base, who require constant assurance that their candidate is a True Believer who is with them 100% on every issue, or else they fear they’re being sold out.

This kind of political paranoia, this obsessive fear that your Republican friends are not really your friends — and perhaps not really Republican — has a basis in fact. (Cf., presidents named “Bush.”) But it is stoked to the point of psychopathology by certain prominent people (I won’t name names) who don’t seem to understand a fundamental principle of coalition politics: You can’t govern if you don’t win.

I share with Ms. Chase her disdain for John McCain, for whom I would never vote if you put a gun to my head. But at some point, you have to get over that particular species of recto-cranial inversion which tells you that Katon Dawson is what the RNC needs at this desperate juncture. Katon Dawson would have been fine when the party was at its zenith of power circa 2003. At this point, however, he simply will not do.

That isn’t really Katon Dawson’s fault, nor Jo-Ann Chase’s fault, but it is the reality of the situation, and conservatives who want to live in a cloud-cuckooland where every swing voter understands what is meant by “true Republican principles” have got to get a grip on reality, or else the GOP will go the way of the Whigs.

The Republican Party’s problems may not really be as bad as they look right now, in the immediate aftermath of S.S. Maverick‘s encounter with the Obama iceberg, but solving those problems will require some very shrewd messaging and very shrewd messengers, and if Jo-Ann Chase wants to do something to save her party from further disasters, she needs to get her prayer circles working for Michael Steele. He’s gonna need all the help he can get.

(Cross-posted at The Other McCain.)

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