Op-Eds Speaking Truth to the Powers-That-Be

The Club for Growth is RINO Hunting Dick Lugar and… Marco Rubio?

The Club for Growth, unimpressed with the GOP presidential pack are going RINO (Republican in Name Only) hunting. The same anti-union, anti-women, Tea Party backers are looking to bag big game in Congress because the name of the game isn’t the White House anymore. It is breaking down the heart of government: The Legislative Branch.

The term “RINO” was originally coined for Democrats who switched party affiliations, but the Club for Growth (The Club) the nasty junior league of the Dead Billionaires Club,  changed all that when they broadened it to include Republicans who don’t represent their far Right Libertarian views.  The Club pumped $8M to seat 26 of the 28 Teahadi candidates that they backed in the 2010 primary elections, a record year for any organization building more than a decade of very small quiet victories. [1]

“It’s a huge change from 10 years ago,” Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, a nonprofit, Washington-based consumer advocacy group, told NPR. [2]

They are a significant financial engine driving the agenda of Grover Norquist, the defacto GOP boss who effectively controls the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), who envisions a Rubber Stamp Presidency:

“We’re not auditioning for fearless leader, ” Norquist told the American Conservative Union, “We don’t need a president to tell us which direction to go. We know which direction we know we want to go… We just need a president to sign this stuff.  We don’t need someone to think it up, or design it… The leadership for the modern conservative movement will be coming out of the House and Senate, so focus on electing the most conservative Republican who can win in each House seat,  and the most conservative Republican who can win in each Senate seat, and then pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become President of the United States.”

Which is why the Club isn’t putting much money into the 2012 presidential race.  It doesn’t really matter. It is a sentiment which most of the network of Teahadi organizations created over the last 35 years by the Club, the Dead Billionaires Club and others, support.

“We’re still going to have to have control of the levers of power in Congress to hold [the new Republican president] accountable,” Brendan Steinhauser, Director of State and Federal Programs for FreedomWorks, a DeVos/Scaife astroturf grass roots group of the  Dead Billionaires Club (DBC) that primes the pump of the  Tea Party movement told CNN, “to send policy to [the new president’s] desk that [he’s] either going to have to sign or not. And so that’s where we think the real levers of power are.”

What matters, according to Norquist, who wields the dollars and power of the Libertarian largesse washed over the Tea Party candidates, is packing the House and the Senate with as many Turnipheads as possible who follow orders well.

While the media consumes hundreds of hours talking about every nuance of the Republican primary, the Club and the big-dollar players of the DBC, the Kochs, the DeVos, the Coors, et al., by way of a network of groups, including Americans for Prosperity (AFP), have been pouring millions into reshaping the Congress into a giant monkey wrench that will gridlock legislation for another four years and devolve the Federal government, no matter who takes the White House.

Indiana Republican Senator Dick Lugar, an Indiana political institution who has brought awful things like jobs, schools and road improvement dollars to his state, is being opposed by Richard Mourdock, a Club and NRA-backed Teahadi. Dick’s crime?

“He’s an old RINO Republican,” Jim Bratten, an Indiana coordinator for Tea Party Patriots, [told CNN], meaning he’s a Republican in name only. “He’s been there [in Washington] for over 36 years, but gradually he’s gotten closer and closer to the left, and he seems to want to compromise on things that are principle that you really can’t compromise on.” [3]

That means that he voted for sensible things like the recovery package and the Big Three auto bailout, both of which kept millions of people employed and in their homes, even with the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.  He also used wresting concessions out of the other guys to get things that his state needs funding for.

“Pork” is evil, the mantra of Teahadis, is another ignorance of government.  True, it buys off someone’s cooperation on a bill that they might otherwise not get on board with, but the ability for congressmen to get needed capital for state and local projects is gone now.

That not only adds to Grover’s glorious gridlock, but it means that any state highway project or other local need that requires federal funding  has to come through Congress as its own bill, unlikely, or be bundled with other congressmen’s various needs into an omnibus bill that adds in hundreds of millions in money that probably would never have been requested had a formal bill not been floated.  In short, it costs MORE, not less, Teahadis, for the government to do business without those “evil” riders.

Lugar gets a lifetime 63% on the Club’s “scorecard” for being too moderate, e.g. compromising with Democrats. [4]

He is not alone though.   The Club also hopes to replace Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, and the retiring congressman Dan Burton (R) of Indiana with the more radical David McIntosh.  They have ten other Teahadi candidates in Republican-gerrymandered post-census districts or opposing a few high-profile Democrats like Sherrod Brown.

Their handiwork is not appreciated by old-line Republicans.  Sen John McCain of Arizona complained that the Club tanked a majority in the Senate when it ran opposition to the re-election of Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee, resulting in a Democratic win that year.  The Club went after one of its politically like-minded, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee in 2008, because he called them out as the “Club for Greed.”

They are not as well funded as Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, which spent $21.55 million to elect Republicans in 2008, but they wield more power because they put the fear of the Almighty (Dollar) into moderate Republican incumbents.  Even if they don’t beat the Republican in the primary, Grover Norquist “owns” them by way of a threat of mounting another costly primary challenge the next time that they stand for election.   Even other Republicans whom they don’t contest come to heel for fear of being “hunted” by the Club.

The Club has spawned poor-cousin state-level imitators. The Peach Tea Super Pac has targeted Georgia congressmen and senators that did not vote for an anti-abortion law to the religious Right’s liking.  The Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire put out a “most wanted” list of Republicans not Republican enough for their liking.

Even Florida’s Teahadi Sentator, Marco Rubio, has been tagged as “RINO” by some for his endorsement of milquetoast Mitt, and his hiring of veteran S.C. political consultant Terry Sullivan, whom the Far Right sees as a RINO game warden. [5][6]

While all of this cannibalization of the party internally by the Far Right may seem appealing to Liberals happy to watch them rip the GOP apart, it is bad news for governance of any kind if compromise, essential to any well-oiled government, is not possible.

It has been a few months of relatively quiet heel dragging for the House and Senate Republicans. Their misadventures take a back seat to the presidential news.  What happens, though, no matter who becomes president, if the Teahadis are not driven out of Congress?

If these ignorant, politically malformed neophytes continue to tear through the halls of congress like drunken monkeys with sticks and clubs, the only people who win are the Club and Grover Norquist, who said: “I’m not in favor of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”

Voting for President Obama is important, but getting out the vote for the Democrats to oust Teahadis, and supporting Democratic candidates opposing Tea Party turnipheads voted in over the last elections is critical. It sends a huge message: ENOUGH.  People voted for gridlocked government in 2010. Now the voter has to fix their mistake and give those few remaining moderate Republicans some ability to stand up to the crushing weight of blackmail and blackballing by a handful of wealthy Libertarian financiers.

Until the Republican Party can free itself from the influence of the Club for Growth, the DBC, and their minion Grover Norquist, though, no Republican congressperson, no matter how “moderate” the individual, is free from that coercion and blackmail.  Only installing Democratic majority would break the Club’s grip, and give those who oppose them the ability to purge them from GOP politics, and send Grover Norquist and his minions packing.

Only when the RINO hunts end, is there a hope for balanced, divided government.

My shiny two.

About Brian Ross

Brian Ross is a writer, screenwriter, political satirist, documentarian, filmmaker and chef. Ad hoc, ad loc, quid pro quo... so little time. So much to know!

13 comments on “The Club for Growth is RINO Hunting Dick Lugar and… Marco Rubio?

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