Tea Partying to Oblivion

02.08.13

Karl Rove Won't Stand Up to the Tea Party. Who Will?

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages ()

This is not only embarrassing, but also futile:

Embattled Republican strategist Karl Rove on Thursday once again insisted that his new group, the Conservative Victory Project, is not an effort to purge the party of its conservative ideology, only bad candidates.

Rove's group, which will set out to field more electable GOP candidates in U.S. Senate races, has sparked an intense battle on the right between the establishment and the more conservative wing.

"This is not about ideology. This is about being a bad candidate," Rove told Fox News' Bill O'Reilly. Rove then pointed out to the host that his group American Crossroads donated to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), but the host quibbled with the example.

"I think he's a moderate Republican," O'Reilly said of Rubio. Rove then noted that he also helped fund the campaign of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). Earlier in the interview, Rove whipped out his famous white board to detail how much money his organization gave to tea party candidates in the previous two election cycles.

"We gave more money, spent more money on behalf of these tea party candidates than any other group in America. Any group," Rove said. "I love these groups that are criticizing us, saying, 'Well, they're fake conservatives.'"

Hear this: extremist ideology is one crucial element of being a bad candidate. There is no good way to phrase the idea that rape victims should be compelled to bear their rapist's child. Ditto for the idea that those people who can't find work in the throes of the worst jobs crisis since the 1930s are moochers and takers.

But there is an idea that can be phrased, and it is this:

It's long past time to create within the Republican party an organized force to fund and support moderate-minded candidates. The Tea Party types do not hesitate to champion their views. Why would it be wrong for moderate Republicans to do likewise? Karl Rove won't lead that effort. Somebody should. Who?