The RINO Label: Everybody Needs To Stop Using It


UPDATE: I have been informed that Ted Cruz has been invited on Morning Joe a number of times and has declined to appear on the show. That’s disappointing.

I’ll say it flat-out: I am so sick and frigging tired of the term RINO (Republican In Name Only).

Reserved at one time usually for liberal northeastern Republican politicians whose voting record more closely resembled that of Democrats, it has been employed over the last several years, largely by self identified “Tea Party” conservatives against “establishment” Republicans.

It reached a fever pitch when people started ridiculously referring to Marco Rubio as a RINO because of his support for the ‘Gang of 8′ immigration plan. Yes, that immigration bill sucked and yes, it was bad that Rubio supported it. But a RINO? One of the most bedrock conservative members of the Senate? It’s absurd.

It was Amy Otto who put it best when she tweeted:

RINO is the right's Race Card. Often used to shut down discussion. #onbothsides

— Amy Otto (@CAAmyO) September 22, 2013

She’s right. Shouting, “RINO!” has merely become another way to say, “Shut up!”

But there is a more to this problem because the use of the term “RINO” has been used by both sides within the internal GOP debate. On one side, you have people using it as a weapon. On the other, there are those seek to stop debate on an issue by using it as a preemptive shield.

Dan Holler, communications director for Heritage Action was discussing Obamacare and the defund strategy with Washington Examiner reporter David Drucker. Holler made the point that Tom Coburn referring to what Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and others are doing as a “government shutdown strategy” is in fact, a straw man argument because that is not the strategy.

Holler is right. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Coburn (and Scott Walker who has said the same thing) but it is a straw man. They’re arguing against a strategy that doesn’t exist. When Holler said this, John Podhoretz said the following:

@danholler @DavidMDrucker @ByronYork So Tom Coburn is now a RINO, I see.

— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) September 22, 2013

To which Holler responded:

@jpodhoretz I didn't call him that. I did say he was arguing against a strategy that didn't exist. #fact @DavidMDrucker @ByronYork

— dan holler (@danholler) September 22, 2013

This has become an all too common tactic for those that find themselves on the other side of an internal debate. It’s easier to proclaim the banner of victim-hood than it is to make a cogent argument.

One can witness this routinely on MSNBC show, Morning Joe. Host Joe Scarborough and the rest of the MoJo crew delight in taking potshots at Ted Cruz almost every day. They did it during the gun bill debate (How did that one work out, gang?!) and they’ve been doing it again with respect to the defund Obamacare issue.

Without fail, nearly every time Joe Scarborough brings up Ted Cruz, he will say something like, “Oh and I know. I’m the big RINO. I’m not a real conservative because I don’t agree with Ted Cruz’s crazy schemes.”

The RINO tag becomes self-applied as it is the easiest way for Joe to deflect away criticism of his viewpoint.

Know what would be great? If Joe’s producers reached out to Ted Cruz and invited him to be on the on the show. But they’ve haven’t. And I know they haven’t. If they did and Cruz declined, they’d be sure to tell the audience every 30 seconds. It’s easier however, to play the victim and sit there an snipe.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Healthy vigorous debate among those within the GOP is a good thing.

Using the term “RINO” as a means of shutting down debate on both sides is wholly unproductive.

In many quarters, it is utilized largely as a joke and that’s the realm in which it belongs.