At Nashua’s Marriott Courtyard function room Tuesday night, New Hampshire congressional candidate Jennifer Horn stood at a decorated podium, her husband Bill and all her sons nearby, and sincerely thanked the dozens of faithful who had gathered there to support her. She was characteristically optimistic, smiling and courageous in the face of her second political loss. Horn pledged party unity, declared genuine pride in her campaign, and was especially grateful for the staff and volunteers who had sacrificed so much of their personal lives on her behalf. She struck the correct tone of grace and generosity one would hope to see from every politician – as, for better or worse, she now most assuredly is.
I, however, am not.
In nominating former US Rep. Charlie Bass, second Congressional district Republicans have put forward one of the weakest proponents of Tea Party reformation in the GOP – and an ardent obstacle to authentic conservative philosophy. Bass is the prototypical Big Government moderate, eager to capitulate to the Obama/Pelosi/Reid agenda with nary a whimper of protest. Backed by hundreds of thousands of dollars of out-of-state PAC money, including significant contributions from unions and pro-abortion advocates, voters would be justified in believing him to be everyone’s representative but theirs and an easy vote for liberal social engineering. His promises of budget vigilance are a comic hypocrisy when contrasted with his Congressional spend-a-palooza voting less than a decade ago. Upset over $2.80 a gallon at the gas pump? Charlie isn’t, and if his cap-and-tax, anti-drilling schemes were to be further adopted by the federal government, $2.80-per-gallon will become a topic of nostalgia similar to five-cent milkshakes. He is the establishment with a capital E, the incumbent without office, a three-dimensional, brillianting embodiment of everything the Tea Party movement has opposed. How is it possible that he now stands as the Republican nominee, facing off against an energized, salivating Democrat Anne McLane Kuster?
The thanks go to the forgettable former State Rep. Bob Giuda, the third-place primary candidate in more than just vote count. As Horn drew robust applause from her audiences and routinely succeeded in straw polls, Giuda’s dry-as-unbuttered-toast pontificating sucked the air out of every room. While opposing the Patriot Act, defending current levels of spending, and refusing to repeal Obamacare, Giuda nonetheless was able to pull off the grand illusion of presenting himself as a Constitutionalist. The trick failed spectacularly, earning him less than 20% of the vote total – but in so doing, it managed to trip up the considerably stronger Horn campaign and allowed the Bass debacle to advance. The numbers tell the story: nearly six out of every ten second district voters rejected the thoroughly-rejectable Bass while only 17% of them found Giuda tolerable. The outrage is not the Bass win but rather that Giuda’s defeat was plainly obvious for weeks before the primary. His stubborn persistence fractured the united front against Bass and provided Giuda with no measurable benefit on election day. Viewed alongside his amateurish and petty online commercials, his vaguely mysogynist blog rants, and his sleep-inducing jeremiads about procedures, it becomes evident that Giuda’s candidacy was a suicidal vanity act – a kamikaze assault worthy of a professional airline pilot.
It was Jennifer Horn at the podium that night, but when rightly considered, it was all of principled conservatism which suffered the defeat of Tuesday. Once again, it will have to endure the painful vindication of a two-year slog through Congressional liberalism – and heal from the arrogant wounding of the selfish. I’m not anxious – it will be back.