This is not the first time the corrupt national GOP power structure and the Mississippi Republican Party have betrayed conservatism.
By now, the deeply questionable practices of the Thad Cochran campaign and his apparatchiks in Mississippi are known to all. Mysterious robo-calls, unaccounted for mailings, street money, all designed to not just to defeat but ruin Chris McDaniel, because he had the temerity to take on the Establishment.
The anti-conservative forces inside the GOP even engaged and paid Democratic consultants to help destroy the campaign of a fellow Republican.
Let that sentence settle in for a second.
The conservative Reaganites are consoling themselves that now the only way the Establishment can beat them is by deceit. It should be noted these conservatives have been willing to go out in public to discuss the race even though they lost. Meanwhile, as like cockroaches, the Cochran forces and the national Republicans have made themselves scarce in the bright light of day.
Not that these operatives really mind having their ethics impugned. For many in the Republican consulting classes, they wear such titles as a badge of honor. Winning at all costs and who picks up the tab at lunch is are all that matters. Principles? Are you for real?
Still, there will probably be no investigation and this won’t be the first time Mississippi has swept crime under the rug.
Remember when the national GOP proudly trumpeted a blueprint for reform? Screwtape, say hello to the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The NRSC bears special mention, as it has taken on a Lord of the Flies culture of mean little boy savagery and decadence. They stuck their noses in the Nebraska primary and got their heads handed to them.
And now Mississippi, where the money they legitimately raised for Cochran may have gone for all sorts of nefarious activities to destroy the Reaganite Tea Party candidate McDaniel challenging Cochran, K Street’s favorite senator.
Still, this isn’t the first time the Mississippi Republicans and the national GOP have betrayed conservatism. In 1976, Ronald Reagan was making a revolutionary challenge to Gerald Ford, America’s only unelected president. Ford had come to the presidency courtesy of the 25th Amendment because of the resignations of Spiro Agnew and Richard Nixon. He truly was an “accidental president.”
As he’d never been nominated, Ford had no more claim on the leadership of the GOP than did Bozo the Clown. (Which is what the national press often called Ford because of his star-crossed presidency and frequent personal pratfalls and jumbled syntax.)
The state party Chairman was Clarke Reed, the “Mr. Republican” of the South. Reed proclaimed himself to be a conservative but supported Nixon over Reagan in 1968, though in 1976 had promised Reagan that he would deliver all 30 of Mississippi’s delegate votes to Reagan at the convention in Kansas City.
Reed stipulated even further that Reagan could count on him if the race was competitive. How competitive?
The 1976 convention in Kansas City was the first time (and the last time) since 1952 that delegates had gathered without first knowing who their nominee would be.
But Reed was also attracted to the baubles of power and access and Ford, even an unintended president, still had 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and Air Force One and invitations to state dinners to tempt weak-willed and easily susceptible party delegates and so called leaders. The trouble for Reagan was that Reed was a sunshine conservative, never there for the really tough fights, and Reagan only had his ideas and principles to offer.
In August in Kansas City, at a time when Reagan needed those 30 Mississippi delegates for a procedural vote that all knew was a test balloting for the nomination, Reed bailed on Reagan at the 11th hour, betraying him, giving his 30 votes to Ford. And as a direct result, it was Ford and not Reagan who won the nomination.
Reed was not a bad man, just a very weak one. To his misfortune, Clarke’s legacy in American politics will not be his hard work in building the GOP in the South, but his betrayal of Reagan for what was the modern equivalent of 30 pieces of silver.
As a point of historical fact, it is necessary given the current controversy to point out that Reed’s young aide in 1976 was Haley Barbour; though he was by accounts a nominal Reagan supporter, he chose John Connolly over Reagan in 1980.
The past has again become prologue and for the ethical Tea Party Reaganites, they have but two choices: adopt the unethical tactics of the Establishment or expand the conservative base by expanding the message.
Honor dictates the answer.