For the purposes of this blog post, I’m assuming that Lisa Murkowski will win the Alaska Senate contest. I am still hoping that the federal judge will come to his senses and rule in favor of the rule of law should Joe Miller decide to continue pursuing his claims in federal court. However, I don’t think it’s bad idea to look at what happens in the event that Murkowski does prevail.
What doesn’t surprise me about the coverage regarding Lisa Murkowski is that the political chattering class has failed to recognize how useful a foil Murkowski is for Governor Palin. That the media seems ready to depict Murkowski as representative of the typical moderate/establishment Republican is a complete victory for Palin.
Prior to Murkowski, the face of moderate/establishment Republicans was Senator John McCain. Regardless of how those of us in the center-right felt about the guy, we all recognized that he was an American war hero who served his country with distinction and honor. McCain also maintained a credible reputation as a deficit hawk and held a generally fiscally conservative record with his strident opposition to earmarks.
Having McCain as the face of moderate/establishment Republicans provided hacks like John Avlon with the opportunity to paint moderate/establishment Republicans as fiscal conservatives who were “socially tolerant” in contrast to center-right/conservative Republicans. Hacks like Avlon could use McCain as a weapon against us by arguing that the center-right’s opposition to moderate/establishment Republicans stemmed from an obsession with social issues and not rooted in concerns over the fiscal issues that matter to most Americans. The political chattering class bought this narrative for the most part and portrayed people like Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Bob Bennett, and Mike Castle as McCain-style Republicans who were “socially-tolerant fiscal conservatives.” Having McCain as the model moderate/establishment Republican provided then with cover to promote such a flagrantly dishonest framing of the differences between moderate/establishment Republicans and center-right/conservative Republicans.
That Lisa Murkowski has now emerged as the symbol of moderate/establishment Republicans should deeply concern people like John Avlon and the political chattering class. Unlike McCain, Murkowski is not a war hero but rather someone who has had everything handed to her in life by her father. This is a woman who is alleged to have had a difficult time staying away from drugs and could only get into a fourth-tier law school despite the fact that her father was a sitting Senator when nearly every other child of a US Senator was able to get into much better school.
Even putting aside Murkowski’s character deficiencies, she absolutely destroys the narrative advanced by people like Avlon and the political chattering class that moderate/establishment Republicans are fiscal conservatives. There is not a budget too bloated for Murkowski to vote for and there is not an earmark too shameless for Murkowski to request. Murkowski defines political success as the amount of tax dollars that she can steal from the Lower 48 to pay for more welfare for her supporters in Alaska. There is a reason why John Avlon excluded her name from his list of “moderate Republicans” he is excited about because he knows that Murkowski damages the narrative he has attempted to advance in favor of moderate/establishment Republicans against the center-right/conservative movement.
Having Murkowski as the face of moderate/establishment Republicans makes Governor Palin’s life that much easier. Murkowski pretty much validates all the criticisms that Palin and the center-right have of moderate/establishment Republicans. Not only does Murkowski obliterate the narrative that moderate/establishment Republicans are fiscal conservatives but she also provides support for the argument that moderate/establishment Republicans do not believe in anything but holding onto power through any means necessary.
If you are looking for a silver lining in the event Murkowski does prevail in the Alaska Senate contest, then the fact that Murkowski completely discredits the moderate/establishment Republican brand may be it. Lisa Murkowski becoming the face of the moderate/establishment Republican “movement” will end up being great news for Governor Palin and the center-right/conservative “movement.”