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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The Ever-Shifting RINO Line

One of the more interesting byproducts of the Tea Party Movement and the ideological battles going on within the Republican Party is that the tolerance of “movement conservatives” for dissent is really reaching a low level. This was made most painfully evident during the recent Utah Senate Primary, when Tim Bridgewater, whose issue positions would have placed him on the far right fringe of the GOP as recently as a couple of years ago, was regularly denounced by supporters of Mike Lee as a RINO, mainly for supporting in the past Republican initiatives that a majority of Republican officeholders also supported.
Now the litmus-testers seem to be training their sights on the GOP’s leadership in the House. Check out the language of this post today from right-wing opinion-leader Erick Erickson of RedState:

Eric Cantor and John Boehner — particularly Eric Cantor — have decided they don’t need or want conservatives and, more troubling, do not have any intention of trying to win at the polls by forcing Democrat hands on Obamacare….
Last week and on Monday I mentioned Rep. Steve King’s effort to repeal Obamacare and start over. He’s filed a discharge petition. If he gets 218 signatures, Nancy Pelosi must hold a vote.
At the time, I was hearing that Eric Cantor was desperate to undermine Steve King’s efforts and, sure enough, he’s trying. Worse, he has John Boehner helping him….
Today, Eric Cantor and John Boehner are announcing that they’ll sign King’s discharge petition, but they’re also going to go with one by Congressman Wally Herger that would repeal Obamacare and replace it with a Republican alternative….
Tea Party activists and others should pay attention here: Eric Cantor and John Boehner are implementing a strategy that makes it look like they are on your side, but are in fact stabbing you in the back.
Cantor and Boehner are spinning this as a good thing. But it is not. It muddies the water and gives Democrats an escape from being forced to take action.
Any Republican who signs on to the Herger discharge petition should be driven from office for betraying the “repeal” cause. This does nothing but provide cover to people who don’t really want to repeal Obamacare, just nibble at the edges.
And should the GOP take back Congress in November, we should remember this betrayal and the lies that go with it.

So a strategic difference of opinion in which Boehner and Cantor, who are slavishly deferential to the conservative movement, chose not to go along with the routinely demented Steve King, becomes a “betrayal” rationalized by “lies” that reveal the two top House GOP leaders as secret allies of the satanic socialists.
Granted, Erickson likes to play the bully-boy and go rhetorically over the top as an intimidation tactic, but this is still pretty amazing stuff. Looks like by November the RINO line will have shifted so far that even Steve King will need to watch his back.

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