There may be no clearer evidence of the hysteria in Republican politics than stories like these.
FreedomWorks for America, the super PAC for former Rep. Dick Armey’s (R-TX) FreedomWorks USA, just released new radio and TV ads urging the defeat of longtime Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). The spots are the latest in a series of attacks by the group against the six-term senator, who is facing a challenge from the right in this year’s renomination process.
The new commercials note that Hatch “voted 16 times” to raise the debt limit.
The ad is accurate; Hatch did cast those votes. But as ThinkProgress’ Josh Israel noted, FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey, a former Republican House leader, also cast the exact same votes at the exact same time. Armey, a right-wing Texan, even delivered an impassioned plea to his congressional colleagues in 2002, telling them voting to raise the debt ceiling was “good for America.”
Are the folks who FreedomWorks’ attack ads offended by their own boss’ voting record?
The larger point is that Republicans who served in Congress as recently as the Bush/Cheney era, developing reputations as consistent far-right stalwarts, are suddenly Republicans In Name Only. There’s no mystery here – as the GOP sprints past the right-wing cliff, even Dick Armey’s conservative outfit no longer has any use for Republicans with Dick Armey’s voting record.
The debt-ceiling issue is actually quite illustrative. As we talked about a couple of weeks ago, Mitt Romney condemned Rick Santorum for his debt-ceiling votes at an event in Ohio, while standing alongside Sen. Rob Portman (R) – who not only voted repeatedly to raise the debt limit, but was also Bush’s OMB director, demanding routine debt-ceiling increases from Congress. Indeed, most of Romney’s supporters agreed with the line that all Republicans accepted for decades – the debt limit had to be increased regularly to protect the integrity of the full faith and credit of the United States.
Former Rep. Chris Chocola (R) of Indiana cast votes to raise the debt ceiling, and now he’s the president of the Club for Growth – which condemns Republicans for voting to raise the debt ceiling.
Even Ronald Reagan (“Ronaldus Magnus,” according to the RNC) raised the debt ceiling 18 times, and he enjoys demi-god status in the party.
As recently as four or five years ago, it was entirely common to find Republicans – conservative Republicans, respected by the GOP base – who supported individual health care mandates, a cap-and-trade plan, the DREAM Act, contraception access, Planned Parenthood funding, and routine increases to the debt ceiling. In 2012, these same Republicans are (a) an endangered species; (b) facing defeat in a GOP primary; or (c) Democrats.