After last November’s coronation of Barack Obama, liberal Democrats and moderate Republicans joyously did an ideological Snoopy Dance over the grave of fiscal conservatism. For example, columnist Sam Tanehaus declared: “What conservatives have yet to do is confront the large but inescapable truth that movement conservatism is exhausted and quite possibly dead.”
Nevada’s leading GOP moderates agreed. Tax-hiking state Sen. Bill Raggio: “My party is going to have to change. It’s gone too far to the right. The Republican far right message does not sell.” Tax-hiking ex-Sen. Warren Hardy: “Nevada has gone in the last two to four years from center-right to center-left and it’s not going back.”
Now here we are, just nine months later: The Obamessiah’s popularity is tanking. Unemployment is up. The economy is still down. ObamaCare is on life-support. And congressional Democrats – including Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, Rep. Shelley Berkley and Rep. Dina Titus – are hiding from their own constituents, afraid to show their faces at live town hall meetings.
Oh, and this week we learned that self-identified conservatives now outnumber self-identified liberals in all 50 states in the union.
Don’t get me wrong. Republicans are far from being back in the driver’s seat. But consider these recent developments in Nevada:
1.) Conservative Gov. Jim Gibbons seems to have stumbled upon a level of political competence heretofore unseen in his administration, routing legislative Democrats in a fight over the state’s (unneeded) stimulus “czar.” In addition, he now pretty much holds all the cards for a special session which many are now predicting is inevitable this fall.
2.) While many still see Gibbons’ re-election as mission impossible, the expected entrance of conservative (we think) Brian Sandoval to challenge him in the GOP primary has sent a Chris Matthews-like thrill up the legs of many Republicans while striking fear in the House of Reid (Rory, that is).
3.) The potential candidacy of conservative Nevada GOP Chairman Sue Lowden for the United States Senate next year so spooked Democrat Sen. Harry Reid that he publicly attacked her with a brazen lie about being “against mammograms for women.” When Harry Reid’s mouth comes unglued like that, you know he’s scared.
4.) A strong, fresh conservative face by the name of John Guedry, a successful community banker in Las Vegas, announced this week his Republican candidacy against a very vulnerable freshman Democrat Rep. Dina Titus.
And all of this without a functioning state party operation, money, headquarters or staff. And with the albatross of John Ensign and his trouser malfunctions still hanging around the GOP’s neck.
Of course, never lose sight of the fact that Republicans rarely blow an opportunity to blow an opportunity. Still, as the saying goes, it appears the reports of conservatism’s death have been greatly exaggerated.