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Republicans Need to Take Their Party Back
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PROVIDENCE, R.I.--Americans wanted to keep the country they know, and said so Tuesday. Now it's time for responsible Republicans to take their party back from the fringe that loses them elections.
It's not true that Republicans needed better candidates. They had excellent contenders. The problem was that the electable ones couldn't leap the lunacy barrier erected by the right wing. They couldn't clinch nominations. Or they withdrew from races in the face of the party base's social nastiness, scientific ignorance, and fiscal irresponsibility.
In Indiana, Republicans had the superb Sen. Richard Lugar--a sure shot for re-election. Lugar was a statesman who refused to transform himself into a right-wing gargoyle during the primary. The party replaced him with a Tea Party favorite, who, like the Republican loser in the Missouri Senate race, made weird comments about rape during the campaign.
In Connecticut, the totally unacceptable Linda McMahon lost her second quest for a U.S. Senate seat after spending $91 million of her own money--but not before having managed to defeat two plausible Republican moderates this year and in 2010. In this round's Republican primary, the wrestling magnate with a yacht named "Sexy Bitch" swept away the much-respected former Rep. Chris Shays on a tide of cash.
Another admired Republican, Jon Huntsman, withdrew from the race for the presidential nomination rather than debase himself with arguments that the Earth was formed 5,000 years ago. The former conservative governor of Utah provided the most noble tweet of the campaign: "I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy."
You knew he couldn't survive the sort of primary race that included threats against Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. ("We would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas," Texas Gov. Rick Perry actually said.) By catering to this mentality but seeming just a bit saner than the others, Mitt Romney won the nomination and lost the election.