On This Week, Brownstein Frets Over 'Leash' Limbaugh and Fox Pull on 'Narrowing' GOP

In the wake of liberal Republican Dede Scozzafava suspending her congressional campaign after polls put her behind the Democrat and New York's Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman who has earned support from many conservatives, Los Angeles Times veteran Ron Brownstein fretted over how it's “a sign that the leash that the base is holding on the party is tightening and that the Palins, the talk radio, Rush Limbaughs, the Fox, the definition of what is acceptable as a Republican I think is narrowing.”

Brownstein, who joined National Journal in 2007 after nearly two decades at the LA Times and three years as “chief staff writer” for Ralph Nader, conceded that “in the short run there's clear energy here in the small government/anti–government argument, but in the long run,” he warned, “I do wonder about whether Republicans are going to have the freedom to maneuver they'll need to recover in some of those blue states where they've significantly eroded?”

Undermining his credibility, Brownstein painted Senator Arlen Specter as another victim of the awful right-wingers, claiming “Specter essentially was forced to leave the party after voting for the stimulus.”

Brownstein on the Sunday, November 1 This Week with George Stephanopoulos, during the roundtable with George Will, Ed Gillespie, Dee Dee Myers and Al Sharpton:
I think this is going to be a mixed message for Republicans out of this. I mean, on the one hand I think it's another indication, I think we're going to see others on Tuesday, that there is energy in the small government, anti-spending argument at this point. On the other hand, the fall of the other Dede – as I think she's known now [humorous reference to Dee Dee Myers] -- I think is a sign that the leash that the base is holding on the party is tightening and that the Palins, the talk radio, Rush Limbaughs, the Fox, the definition of what is acceptable as a Republican I think is narrowing.

I mean this does come after Arlen Specter essentially was forced to leave the party after voting for the stimulus, after Chuck Grassley faced threats -- open threats of a primary challenge if he compromised with Max Baucus.

In the long run -- in the short run there's clear energy here in the small government/anti–government argument, but in the long run I do wonder about whether Republicans are going to have the freedom to maneuver they'll need to recover in some of those blue states where they've significantly eroded?
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center