Something happened over this weekend at the other end of the country that gives us a preview of how the right is moderating its rhetoric in the post-Tucson political climate of America.
The State of New Hampshire Republican Party elected its state chairperson on Saturday, and a tea party activist by the name of Jack Kimball was chosen – narrowly by a vote of 222 to 199. He was opposed by the GOP establishment.
Newly elected Kimball declared after his victory, as reported by the New Hampshire Union Leader:
“You all know that we are in a war, and we are going to win it. We are going to pull ourselves back from the brink, we’re going to go after the Democrats the entire time,” Kimball said, to a boisterous crowd inside the Stockbridge Theatre.
The use of such strong, violence-tinged rhetoric is shocking to those of us who believed that civility is the order of the day after the Arizona bloodbath. That there was no room for compromise in his terminology is also telling when he said, “going … after the Democrats the entire time.”
The selection of Kimball in the state with the first national presidential primary signals two developments. First, it’s a demonstration of the far-right’s tea party power within a usually-low-key conservative state, and second, it’s a front window to the disruption occurring in a Republican Party undergoing a virtual “civil war”.
That is not the “war” that Kimball was talking about, however. He was referring, of course, to the war with the Democrats, the usurpers. The war with the “socialists” (he did not use this term here) who have taken over Washington, DC. The war against Obamacare, against Obama himself, and his Muslim Kenya-loving czars.
Paradoxically, at the same meeting where Kimball, the founder of the state’s tea party coalition, was elected, there was a “straw vote” on Republican presidential candidates that did not signal the elevation of tea party favorites. The Union Leader reports:
With 273 votes cast, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney came out on top, with 35 percent, followed by Ron Paul, with 11 percent; former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, 8 percent; former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, 7 percent; and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, 5 percent each.
Also of note: Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former N.H. Sen. Judd Gregg each got 2 percent of the vote. Donald Trump received 1 percent.
Romney came out on top with a little over a third, but when you tally up all the tea party favorites (Paul, Palin, Bachman, DeMint) you still only have 36% of that straw, unofficial vote favoring the true reactionaries.