Sunday, November 1, 2009

Dropping Out: Dede Scozzafaza and Abdullah Abdullah

Elections are Tuesday, and there was big news from New York's 23rd Congressional District yesterday: the Republican candidate, Dede Scozzafaza, dropped out.

Scozzafaza's been in the national news the past couple of weeks because, after being nominated by the local Republican party, a group of national Republicans (including Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and Tim Pawlenty) endorsed her Conservative Party opponent, Doug Hoffman. They accused Scozzafaza of being too moderate by, for instance, supporting abortion rights and Obama's stimulus package.

David Brooks
and other moderate conservatives have argued that the opposition shows that the Republican Party has really lost its bearings and is letting the far-right radicals take over.

Well, evidently somebody convinced Scozzafaza that she and Hoffman were going to split the conservative vote and enable a Democratic victory, and yesterday she announced she's dropping out.

Scozzafaza's decision is really sad. It illustrates -- more dramatically than anything I can remember the past couple of years -- the inability of moderates to succeed in American politics. It is a truly bad sign for republican (small r) government when local preferences can be ignored in order to satisfy the national swing towards the extremes.

Overseas, there was also big election news yesterday: Abdullah Abdullah announced that he is almost definitely dropping out of the runoff election with Hamid Karzai, which is scheduled for next Saturday. Dexter Filkins reports (here) that Abdullah did not feel sufficiently confident that Karzai's government could prevent fraud in the voting and vote-counting.

Hillary Clinton gave the initial American response yesterday, and her pronouncement was misguided: Clinton said that "I don't think it has anything to do with the legitimacy of the election. It's a personal choice."

Clinton's statement is ridiculous, and surely the Administration knows it. Abdullah decided he couldn't be sure the field wouldn't be fraudulently tilted against him, and so he decided not to give Karzai's re-election legitimacy by agreeing to participate.

I'm disappointed that Clinton wasn't more forthright. I think generally she's doing a great job as Secretary of State but she's dropping the ball here.

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