side from a handful of religious and social conservatives, pretty much the entire Republican Party apparatus and conservative punditry is begging Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) to quit his Senate race against the politically vulnerable Sen. Claire McCaskill (D). Hooray, says Philip Klein at The Washington Examiner. Yes, Akin's stubborn refusal to give up following his "insensitive and ignorant comments" on "legitimate rape" thwarting pregnancy "could cost Republicans a majority in the Senate," but in the long run it will be seen as a "watershed moment for the conservative movement." For once, Beltway Republicans, Tea Partiers, and the conservative base are united in denouncing a weak, unqualified conservative candidate — no matter that "Democrats and their liberal allies" are piling on, too. Could the Akin debacle, in effect, be the key to the GOP's electoral salvation?
It's too soon to draw any conclusions: "As someone who criticized the selection of Sarah Palin and, especially, the nomination of Christine O'Donnell," says Paul Mirengoff at Power Line, "I'd be delighted" if the Right's rejection of Akin means "conservatives are holding conservative candidates to a higher standard." But it's a little premature to declare such "new sophistication" in the GOP. The reaction to Akin's stupid comments would almost certainly be "more measured and less universal" if what he said didn't affect the Mitt Romney ticket and the Senate's balance of power.
"Todd Akin: A watershed moment for conservatives?"
This is bigger than Missouri's Senate race: "Sure, the Akin example has its own unique elements," says The Washington Examiner's Klein. "But it's hard not to see a broader pattern developing." The Right has figured out that "knowledgeable and articulate" conservatives who "take a deep interest in policy details" — think Romney running mate Paul Ryan (Wis.) and Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Mike Lee (Utah), and soon, Ted Cruz (Texas) — can both win elections and advance the conservative cause. Akin can do neither.
"Akin mess... watershed moment for conservative movement"
Sorry, Akin's a one-off affair: The idea that "conservatives are finally outgrowing their torches and pitchforks stage" is mostly wishful thinking, says Kevin Drum at Mother Jones. Yes, "the unanimity of the Republican backlash against [Akin] has been impressive," but it has nothing to do with "a more serious approach to politics" or a sudden "love of policy wonkery." The truth is, "nobody in the GOP wanted Akin in the first place." He's a lone wolf. When the Right unites to throw an inconsequential and well-liked — but utterly unqualified — team player under the bus, then we can talk watershed moments.
"Republicans have not suddenly developed a love of policy wonkery"
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