A pair of articles today about the Republican Primary race by conservative publications has the right arguing over electability, Karl Rove, and the late William F. Buckley.

The National Review Online had this piece, which cites an unidentified "unbiased and perceptive source" as the only analysis of the NC Senate GOP primary race. It highlights the GOP concerns about Greg Brannon's candidacy.

While the American Spectator ran this one, that is far more supportive of Brannon.

In the weeks leading up to the May primary, you're likely going to hear a lot of people quote (or, at least TRY to quote) Buckley when arguing for or against a particular candidate.

"The Buckley Rule" was first uttered in a 1964 meeting of National Review leaders who were deciding which GOP presidential candidate to support - Nelson Rockefeller or Barry Goldwater.

This first-hand account from Neal B. Freeman is essential reading:

With each of us in our assigned seat and with six pairs of eyeballs staring at him unblinkingly, Bill announced that National Review will support the rightwardmost viable candidate.”

Victory for Team Goldwater! We all knew what “viable” meant in Bill’s lexicon. It meant somebody who saw the world as we did. Somebody who would bring credit to our cause. Somebody who, win or lose, would conservatize the Republican party and the country. It meant somebody like Barry Goldwater.


Bill Buckley was careful with words. If he had opted on that June day for the words “rightwardmost electable candidate,” we would all have recognized it as a victory for Team Rockefeller.


The big lesson here is that "viable" does NOT mean "electable." Beware of people who confuse the two.

Brant Clifton at the Daily Haymaker offers his analysis:

Every six years, between 1972 and 2002, we were lectured to about how Jesse Helms was unelectable or couldn’t possibly win reelection.  In the end, not even the capo di tutti of the North Carolina Democrat mob, Jim Hunt, could take him out.  Helms ended up retiring — on his own. 


To paraphrase Freeman, promoting conservatism and promoting the Republican Party are two different things.