The Tea Party Gets an Uninvited Guest

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) announced that she will be a write-in candidate for U.S. Senator in Alaska. Not surprisingly, Republicans are concerned that Ms. Murkowski will split Republican votes with Tea Party fave Joe Miller, giving Democrat Scott McAdams a significantly better chance to win the election.

I actually feel their pain and offer my sympathy.

"Listen to the people, respect their will," pleaded Sarah Palin, or as much as one can plead on a Twitter account. "Voters chose Joe instead."

Truer words were never spoken. That's not saying much in terms of Palin, but still. I feel her pain, as well. Truly.

"Republicans acknowledge the decision Alaskans made [in the primary]," GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wrote in an anxious message supporting the existing Republican nominee.

Previously, Mr. McConnell had threatened Sen. Murkowski that if she ran as a write-in candidate she would lose her positions of leadership in the party. Given that in four months she would have zero position in the party, the threat seemingly didn't have much impact.

Other Republican leaders, from Sen. John Cornyn to party chairman Michael Steele, have repeated their support for Mr. Miller, agitated that a third-party candidate could screw up their party in the general election.

"I am disappointed the Senator has decided not to respect the will of Alaska's Republican Primary voters," said the state's GOP chairman, Randy Ruedrich.

Even the Tea Party Express corporation jumped into the fray, adding that "Lisa Murkowski just doesn't get it."

I feel their pain. Really. I completely can understand the disappointment, frustration and even anger at having an untested, outsider candidate win the party's nomination for senator, only to see the defeated, sitting senator run a write-in campaign that gravely risks losing the Senate seat for the party. They believe this is deeply harmful to the party and makes a mockery of the election process.

Come here, let me give you a hug.

That's precisely how Democrats felt in 2006 when Ned Lamont defeated Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Connecticut -- only to have Sen. Lieberman run as an independent, win and take the seat away from a sure Democratic victory.

Okay, sure, no Republicans were weeping about the "will of the people" nor how Mr. Lieberman should respect the results of that election. But that's nitpicking. So pre-2010 thinking.

To be fair, Alaska is a totally different situation than existed in Connecticut. For one thing, Lieberman won the general election because Republicans saw that the only way to keep the seat from going to the official Democrat candidate was by abandoning their own party nominee over the side of the ship, and voting for the one-time Democratic nominee for vice president. In Alaska, Democrats are not dropping their nominee Scott McAdams and rushing to vote for the Republican write-in candidate instead. For another thing -- well, no, that's enough difference.

At least there's levity among the angst. The funniest comment has been from the Tea Party Republican nominee himself, Mr. Miller. "Liberals don't relinquish power easily," he said with a straight face, "that would be my first observation."

Only to someone as ultra-conservative as Joe Miller, who among other things wants Social Security eliminated, would Republican Lisa Murkowski seem a "liberal." But that's not the funny part. It's that coming from the Republican nominee -- the party that tried to impeach Bill Clinton after he was elected president and has tried to claim that Barack Obama wasn't an American citizen and therefore not elected legally -- and from the representative of the Tea Party, which has poundingly tried to discredit the president by insisting that he's a communist, socialist Nazi, and relentlessly squeals that it "Wants Its Country Back" and will shout down anyone who dares disagree with them about almost anything to the point of cheering those who proclaim themselves "a proud right-wing terrorist." Miller trying to suggest that others don't relinquish power easily takes humor to a level not imagined since Groucho Marx. Or Karl. It also shows a lack of awareness of current events and history, and a depth of disingenuousness. But who's counting?

Indeed, it's only Mr. Miller's knee-slapper that keeps Sarah Palin's own quip from being the real whopper. After all, if she actually cared that anyone "Listen to the people, respect their will," she never would have resigned halfway through the job that the will of the people elected her to. Sarah Palin cares about respecting the will of the people as much as Christine O'Donnell cares about letting people touch their own bodies in the privacy of their own home. Or coven.

But in the end, we must give Republican disappointment about Lisa Murkowski's decision compassion. It does make a precious Senate victory much less likely. It is a concern that Democrats understand.

No doubt Sarah Palin felt some initial glee at screwing her long-time Republican rival, Ms. Murkowski. It's just that apparently she never thought this would occur.

Who would?! It's certainly not the Will of the People. (Unless, of course, Ms. Murkowski gets elected.) All we know is that when asked about Republicans who feel her effort is futile, Ms. Murkowski replied, "Perhaps it's time they met one Republican woman who won't quit on Alaska."

As Bill Clinton said, I feel your pain.


UPDATED: spelling corrections