Time's Grunwald Attacks Chambliss; Frets His Win Will Cause Republicans to Shift to the Right

Today's run-off election for Georgia's Senate between incumbent Republican Saxby Chambliss and Democrat Jim Martin has attracted a lot of attention, especially because it could put the Democratic majority one seat closer to the 60 seats needed for a filibuster-proof Senate. Michael Grunwald of Time magazine has a story up today about the importance of the outcome of the race, but instead of giving a fair-and-balanced look at how both candidates would affect the Senate, Grunwald uses the piece to attack Chambliss for being a "textbook Bush-Cheney Republican" and praise Martin for potentially being a repudiation of Bush and a "candidate of the middle class."

Grunwald starts off by reminding readers that Georgia is still "an extremely conservative state" despite a Time magazine article from June which wondered if Georgia would be "Obama's Ohio" in the election. The writer uses this characterization of Georgia to frame Martin's potential win as "a crowning embarrassment for the GOP" and attacks Republicans by saying it would "rival Obama's own victory as a repudiation of the Bush agenda of tax cuts for the rich, pork for the well-connected, belt-tightening for the working poor, drill-baby-drill, strict-construction judges and military adventurism." That's when the Chambliss-bashing starts, as Grunwald goes on to say, "not to mention the political cynicism that made Chambliss notorious after his ads in 2002 comparing his opponent, triple-amputee Max Cleland, to Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein."

Later in the article, Grunwald goes on to rip Chambliss as a "near-parody of a Bush-Cheney Republican," claiming Chambliss has:

supported Bush on just about everything but its efforts to rein in outrageous farm subsidies. He is so tight with the sugar industry that he attacked a whistleblower who reported safety problems after an explosion at a Georgia mill killed 14 people. He has been an ardent supporter of sending American troops into harm's way even though he avoided serving in Vietnam through student deferments, as well as an allegedly bum knee that hasn't hampered his reputation as one of the best golfers in Congress. On a recent appearance on Fox News, he warned that if he isn't re-elected, "you're going to see an economic stimulus like you won't believe." As if that would be a bad thing!

On the other hand, Grunwald describes Martin as simply "a mild-mannered former state legislator and human resources commissioner who is unusually progressive for a statewide candidate in Georgia."

Grunwald's biggest worry, though, is that a win by Chambliss would "reinforce the dangerous message that recent electoral results have been sending to Republicans" which is that moderates, like Connecticut congressman Christopher Shays and North Carolina gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory, lose elections while most Republican "survivors" are conservative. Grunwald argues that Chambliss's win would move the party further in his direction, which Grunwald describes as being "even more white, even more to the right, even more eager to fight."

According to Gruwnald, the view by many conservatives that the Republican Party is too moderate is untrue. He claims that Republicans in Washington have not failed to defend traditional values as they "got two conservative justices on the Supreme Court, passed all kinds of laws restricting abortion and stem-cell research, and practically shut down the government to try to save Terri Schiavo." He goes on to say that there is "little evidence that Americans soured on the GOP because of its profligacy" and uses John McCain's "crusade against earmarks" to prove that Americans "don't seem to be crying out for austerity and deregulation." But is McCain the best example of a "conservative" Republican to use? He did support the $700 billion bailout to buy bad mortgages and the debt of large institutions, and that's when his poll numbers really began to go downhill.