Why did the Tea Party take down a doctrinaire conservative?

The holy crusade that movement conservatives undertook against Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst concluded with Tuesday’s Senate runoff, producing his once-unlikely defeat at the hands of his much-celebrated Tea Party challenger, former state solicitor general Ted Cruz.* What makes the election so interesting is that Dewhurst, who has been denounced from one end of the conservative blogosphere to the other as a “RINO” and as “Dewcrist,” can’t really be accused of any specific ideological heresies. Unlike Indiana’s Dick Lugar, he hasn’t supported any arms control treaties or gun control measures or “earmarks.” Unlike many of 2010’s Tea Party targets, he can’t be accused of social-issues moderation; he was staunchly supported by Texas’ main anti-abortion groups. And unlike Orrin Hatch of Utah, he hasn’t thumbed his nose at ultra-conservatives; he calls himself a “constitutional conservative,” says he supported Tea Party policies before there was a Tea Party, and heavily identifies himself with his most important backer, Gov. Rick Perry, who can snarl and rant at godless liberals with the best of them.

This did not keep Cruz’s backers from calling Dewhurst names, of course. But when challenged, they always seemed to find some objection to Dewhurst that did not involve any actual issues. RedState’s Erick Erickson scoffed at the very idea that Dewhurst was a real conservative, but relied mainly on the two candidates’ lists of supporters to establish some distinction between them. National Review’s editors focused on Dewhurst’s negative ads against Cruz, another non-ideological factor.

Ed Kilgore — The Senate Gets a Little More Hispanic and a Lot More Conservative

Are GOP governors overplaying their hands on the Medicaid expansion?

"Rick Perry wants Texas to reject Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid, even though it’d bring health insurance to several million people. But plenty of Texans disagree. And some of that have a lot of influence.

As Jay Hancock reports today at Kaiser Health News, two groups of powerful interests are preparing to pressure Perry if, come next year, the state really does decide to opt out of the Medicaid expansion. One group is the hospitals that, absent the Medicaid expansion, will be bearing the cost of charity care even as they cope with declining revenue from other resources. The other group is private insurers, who see the growing Medicaid population as a huge profit opportunity and have been investing large amounts of money to prepare for it.”

Jonathan Cohn "Gov. Perry, Your Health Care Lobbyists Are Calling"

Refusing Medicaid funds: Stupid decision, or stupidest decision?

"Basic decency ought to be reason enough for all states, even those with Republican governors, to participate in the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid. The well-being of literally millions of low-income Americans is at stake. But if the humanitarian aspects of the Medicaid expansion don’t appeal to Rick Perry, Rick Scott, and their allies, then economic self-interest really should.

As many of us have been saying, the Medicaid expansion an incredibly good deal, with the federal government picking up nearly the entire cost of the expansion, including 100 percent of the bill for the first three years. According to the Congressional Budget Office, participating in the expansion would require states to increase Medicaid spending by less than 3 percent between 2014 and 2022.”

— Jonathan Cohn, “Turning Down Medicaid: Even More Stupid Than It Seems

Why are liberal elites applauding Rick Perry?

Former President Bill Clinton defended Gov. Perry on his signature of a bill allowing Texas undocumented residents to obtain in-state tuition rates, for which his Republican presidential rivals have criticized him heavily.

Perry defended the bill in an October campaign stop: “In Texas, we made the decision that it was in our best interests as a state, economically and otherwise, to have those young people in our institutions of higher learning and becoming educated as part of our skilled workforce,” he said.

Should liberals be thankful to Rick Perry for injecting a dose of compassion into the conservative debate on immigration policy? Read why TNR’s Editors have “Just a Tiny Bit of Sincere Sympathy for Rick Perry.”

Photo courtesy of thehuffingtonpost.com.

Rick Perry is shaking up his languishing presidential campaign today.

First, the Texas governor made good on a promised  big announcement last week by releasing a 20% flat tax proposal.

Second, Perry mixed up his campaign staff, bringing in Jim Allbaugh, the day-to-day manager of George W. Bush’s campaigns, to take the helm of a once cohesive team of insiders.

Is today’s urgency to triage the campaign a sign that Perry’s camp is in much more trouble than previously believed?

For more, read Alec MacGillis’s insider analysis on TNR’s 2012 presidential campaign blog, the Stump.

Photo courtesy of the Guardian.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton said Tuesday his agency deported nearly 400,000 individuals during the fiscal year 2011. The numbers were the largest reported in the agency’s history.

For an investigative look at ICE’s frightening immigration policies, read TNR Reporter-Researcher Nathan Pippenger’s series on immigration, addressing the question: why are undocumented immigrants that the administration says it intends to help stay in this country still facing deportation?

Also, is immigration Rick Perry’s Achilles’ heel?

Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

The Tea Party is losing interest. Will the rest of the GOP write off Rick Perry?

"There is abundant evidence that Perry’s problem is less a matter of style than of substance, and more a matter of ideology than of electability. To put it simply, the man who announced his candidacy with a fiery right-wing speech at a gathering of the fiery right-wing RedState community is rapidly alienating his hyper-conservative base, and may have real trouble getting back his wingnut mojo."

-Ed Kilgore, “Why the Tea Party Turned on Perry.”

Photo courtesy of the Christian Science Monitor.