Next Friday, the MD GOP will host the 19th annual Red, White & Blue Dinner. The keynote speaker is none other than Newt Gingrich. That the MD GOP would so honor a man who supported Wayne Gilchrest in his re-election bid is an indication of how the party has lost touch with its conservative base and with any sense of its own relevance.
Wayne Gilchrest. A man whose contempt for the Republican party was legendary. In comments for the press after each vote for the Democrats, Gilchrest insisted that he was not one of the sheep, meaning Republicans, and that he voted his conscience. His conscience was, 90 percent of the time, Nancy Pelosi's conscience.
Newt Gingrich. Mr. Republican. Leader of the 1994 GOP take-over of Congress. Lectures the Republicans on why they should support the conservative initiatives that Gilchrest had (and would have) voted against. Gingrich says he supported Gilchrest over Andy Harris, because Gilchrest was a friend of the environment. Gingrich urges Congress to Drill Here and Drill Now! to secure America's energy supply. But surely he knew his environmental buddy would vote against any such legislation.
I'll never forgive Gingrich (or Boehner or Steele) for making it that much harder to defeat this liberal Republican. And no one has asked the great Newt Gingrich to explain himself. And I doubt seriously that anyone will have the spine to ask him to apologize to Andy Harris and the loyal Republicans who worked hard to secure his victory in the Primary. I doubt he will even acknowledge the presence of Dr. Harris at the dinner.
For me the campaign was over and successful because Harris defeated Gilchrest. Either way the General went, the party affiliation no longer had to be reconciled with the vote. If the Democrat won, then the change would be hardly detectable.
But the convergence of Newt and MD GOP illustrates in sickeningly vivid color and depth that the GOP has not taken any lessons from their drubbings in '04, '06 and '08. And that while I was, for a moment, optimistic for our chances in 2010, I suddenly realized that the party amnesia has run deeper than I hoped.
But forget about Newt for a moment. How does the MD GOP explain itself for inviting the backstabber? Who's next? Arlen Specter? I could think of a thousand different people to address the party faithful and inspire them to win in 2010. A thousand!