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Friday, December 05, 2008

Chambliss - the accidental GOP poster boy

Republicans may be celebrating the victory of Sen. Saxby Chambliss in the Georgia runoff, and because of the attention this race has received, observers may get the idea that the soon-to-be two term Senator is the next great hope of the GOP.

Nothing could be further from the truth. That is, if Saxby is the GOP's future, then the last two election cycles have not taught the party of Lincoln a thing.

Around the country, Republican seats in the House and Senate have gone from red to blue - except in Georgia. Around the country, states that have not voted for a Democrat in a presidential election in decades went for Barack Obama in 2008 - except for Georgia.

The GOP hopes the rest of the country becomes more like Georgia. After all, if we can elect old-school Republicans, then, they believe, they should be more like old-school Republicans.

Chambliss told his supporters Wednesday morning, as they dismantled his campaign headquarters, that his victory is a "model" for the 2010 election cycle.

The Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Mike Duncan, who was in Atlanta for Chambliss' Tuesday night victory, said that night's "result sends a strong and confident message to those committed to electing candidates who stand by the core principles upon which our Party was founded.”

Those principles, according to Chambliss, include "smaller government, fiscal responsibility, more individual rights (read as 'gun rights') and lower taxes.” Though that rhetoric resonated enough with Georgia Republicans to get them to the polls for the runoff, it is a huge leap to try to apply such ideals to Republicans around the country. It is, in fact, perceived as disingenuous by a majority of voters, even Republicans, who have heard such talk in every election cycle but are not blind to what their party did when they were in control of Congress.

It is not so much that Georgians have embraced Chambliss; it is that this state of the Old South is always going to be the last to give in to change.  Georgia is more like the last bastion of conservatism in a changing world, and Republicans would be foolish to make the politics here be the future of the GOP everywhere.


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