April 30, 2010

No, I'm the Reagan Republican

"I'm Brian, and so's my wife."
An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Sen. Feingold presented himself as a conservative Reagan Republican. The story should have said candidate Richard Leinenkugel presented himself as a conservative Reagan Republican.
It's funny because Leinenkugel the sudden Reaganite is a former member of the detested liberal Democrat Wisconsin governor Jim Doyle's cabinet, now running in the Republican primary for the opportunity to oppose Russ Feingold in the November election.

Since Leinenkugel formally announced his ambitions earlier this week and on account of that résumé, he's been mercilessly attacked by the conservative True Believers as a "Republican In Name Only," and tarred with the disparaging Freeperish moniker, "RINOkugel."

Much of that opposition, it seems to me, arises from the fact that he's got lots of money and instant name recognition and is by all appearances considerably more competent than either of his two current GOP rivals, Terrence Wall and Dave Westlake.

That is, the local conservative Twit-terers aren't exactly renowned as the sharpest knives in a drawer. Unless they want to get trounced in November, Leinenkugel's probably their best bet against Feingold. He's certainly the least clownish of the three potential candidates.

But apparently the successful GOP candidate will need to present his credentials to the base as being slightly to the right of Attila the Hun.

And then move back toward Genghis Khan for the general election.
"Health care wasn't much of a debate. It was back room deals made by Senators," Leinenkugel said.
What a silly talking point. Those bills were in Congress — and the country heard about virtually nothing else — for 18 months. And it's comically disingenuous for an aspiring Senator to assail that chamber over "back room deals." The Senate operates on back room deals.*

* See, e.g., Robert Caro's marvelous account.

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