run-away.jpgCan’t hardly click on a web link nowadays without seeing something about Republicans leaving guaranteed government sinecures for more bucks (thus imperiling the Federalist Society’s plans to fascisize the Federal Judiciary), or leaving the GOP because they can’t take Bush and the neocon bullcrap any more, or repenting because they can’t take Bush and the neocon bullcrap any more (or don’t want their complicity in Bush’s actions permanently affixed to their public record), or simply retiring because they can’t take Bush and the neocon bullcrap any more:

Nine-term congressman Jim Ramstad’s decision Monday to retire throws the outlook across Minnesota into question. The 3rd District covers most of the second- and third-ring suburbs west of Minneapolis, as well as Bloomington, Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center, and part of Anoka. With the traditional Republican strongholds of Minnetonka, Eden Prairie and Plymouth rapidly turning blue at the state and presidential levels, the district makes for a classic battleground in 2008.

Ramstad’s departure will almost certainly cause Democrats at the state and national levels to take a long, hard look at this race. With several notable names already connected with this race (led by Andy Luger, the 2006 DFL-endorsed candidate for Hennepin county attorney), the 3rd represents an opportunity for DFLers to “move the goalposts” on their Republican opponents and help spread Republican resources a bit thinner as the GOP seeks to unseat first-term DFL congressman Tim Walz.

Back when he was first elected in 1990, Ramstad was in the mainstream of his party. Now it’s moved so far to the nutcase right that he, who in the 1970s would have been considered moderate-to-conservative, looks like friggin’ Noam Chomsky compared to the goons and gunsels running his party today. His voting record shows that he departed from the GOP party line on one out of every five votes, which is considered recklessly daring and insubordinate as Republicans go, enough for him to be called a “RINO” (Republican in Name Only) by incensed conservative Republicans.

This is why I agree with The Wege and Dana Blankenhorn that the biggest obstacles to our success next year are those who would lead us not understanding that it’s not 1994 any more. The conditions that existed then do not obtain now — not when the smartest parts of our opposition, the ones who can read the handwriting on the wall, are literally running away from their own party.