How Dewhurst got burned

Lt. Governor David Dewhurst has found some reasons why his defeat wasn’t his fault. It turns out it was Washington’s fault (Dewhurst: Texans’ anger at Washington misdirected at Texas Capitol). So, the Lt. Governor believes that Washington politics is much worse than the Austin politics that he presides and that Republican primary voters are just too stupid to tell the difference. Dewhurst is like a child who plays with matches and gets burned. Now he’s looking around frantically for someone else to blame”

There are a lot of Texans who are so mad and angry at Washington — and I’m mad and angry at Washington, too — (they) have a hard time understanding how any other form of government, such as state government, could actually cut taxes, which we did, and cut spending, which we did.

Consider this: “Washington” has actually cut taxes. The stimulus program included a lots of tax cuts and those helped bring the tax rate down to a level we hadn’t seen in about 50 years. So, David Dewhurst worked very hard to put Congress in a bad light. That seems like Washington politics as usual. The fact that he now feels victimized by someone putting what he did in the worst possible light is ironic and the fact that he feels primary voters can’t distinguish between his record and those of the Washington politicians tells us more about him than the voters.

There are other ways in which the politics of Austin are just the politics in Washington. The state has spending programs that are very similar to federal programs. The state has pumped millions of dollars into funds to create jobs in Texas just like the federal “stimulus” program that Dewhurst derided. Obama prefers “green jobs” while Perry and Dewhurst preferred “emerging technology.” No so much difference there.

Up a tree

Perry and Dewhurst have decided to follow the base of their party rather than lead them. They refuse to take risks or attempt to persuade voters to do anything except assume the worst about people they don’t like.

Dewhurst lost in part because he didn’t consistently make the case for what he had done. You can’t spend over a decade constructing coalitions and brokering compromises and then run as a purist. That kind of record can never match the rhetoric of the base. If GOP voters weren’t tuned into reality it’s because Dewhurst kept pointing them elsewhere. Dewhurst had a decent record. He should have run on it rather than run away from it. Even if he would have lost he would have left the stage having defended his record and fought the good fight.

Washington has become a universal scapegoat for any candidate not able to run on their record. Too many candidates banked their campaign on the anger they stirred up rather than their vision for the state. In the end, some of them played with fire and got burned.

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