The Shelby County Reporter reported over the weekend that last Thursday, Rep. Spencer Bachus (R AL), who is set to chair the House Financial Services Committee, told the South Shelby Chamber of Commerce, “Sarah Palin cost us control of the Senate.”
As much as I enjoy holding Palin (and DeMint) accountable for the Delaware loss, this seems like quite a stretch. As Palin mouthpiece Ian Lazaran notes, Palin "did not endorse either Sharron Angle or Ken Buck in their respective primaries." Which is to say, you can argue that tea party GOP primary voters cost the GOP the Senate, but it doesn't really follow that Palin herself "cost us control of the Senate." She did back Joe Miller over Lisa Murkowski in the GOP primary, but that seat remains Republican either way.
Which brings us to Mort Kondracke, who has already argued:
"The people who got slapped the hardest in this election — besides Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama — are Jim DeMint and Sarah Palin. Jim DeMint and Sarah Palin are responsible for the fact that the Senate did not go Republican. They’re the ones who are responsible for Christine O’Donnell. They’re the ones who are responsible for Joe Miller in Alaska. They’re the ones who are responsible for Ken Buck in Colorado. They’re the ones who are responsible for Sharron Angle in Nevada.”Again, as we said about Bachus's characterization, this is not accurate. The tea party is arguably "responsible" for Buck and Angle, but Palin and DeMint certainly are not.
Tonight on FNC's Special Report, Kondracke added, "Jim DeMint is a guy who runs candidates in primaries against sitting senators." This is just flat out wrong. As far as I can tell, DeMint backed Miller on Sept 8, well after the GOP primary. Am I wrong?
This kind of sloppiness gives the forces of ideological purity opportunities they do not deserve.
There is one question they need to answer and so far have not: why did you back Christine O'Donnell when every sober analysis of the race pointed to a clear Castle victory and a certain O'Donnell loss? Making factually inaccurate or exaggerated claims about Palin and DeMint's endorsements allows them to claim the high ground and evade blame for giving away a US Senate seat.
Bachus, Kondracke and the like don't want to be seen as anti-populists, so they target their criticism at the "face" of the tea party rather than the movement itself. I understand the motivation, but the resulting overreach only serves to assist those they intend to marginalize.