Are WHINOs scuttling GOP chances to win in 2016?

As political acronyms go, WHINOs is creating some buzz. It's a insider term of derision for those who would marginalize Republicans deemed not conservative enough. With the GOP presidential field growing apace, it's sure to find a use.

John Locher/AP
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at FreedomFest on July 11, 2015, in Las Vegas. Trump critics say that playing to a conservative populist base is a formula for making a candidate unelectable.

WHINOs. A takeoff on Republicans In Name Only (RINOs), this is a term that some Republicans use to describe their deeply conservative brethren who complain about ideological purity.

Former Idaho Gov. Phil Batt (R) helped popularize the word more than a decade ago. “I have searched for a name for the self-appointed experts who have been sifting through GOP officeholders and have proclaimed that only a handful are fit to be called Republicans. The name I came up with is WHINOs,” Batt wrote in a 2004 op-ed column. “When the party falls into times of need, you can depend on most of the so-called RINOS to pitch in – to raise the money, pass out the literature door-to-door and field electable candidates. You can also bet your bottom dollar that the WHINOs will sit back and carp.”

National Review’s Kevin Williamson resurrected the phrase this week after attending FreedomFest in Las Vegas, an annual conference organized by economist Mark Skousen that Williamson described as “WHINO central.”

He wrote: “The WHINO is a captive of the populist Right’s master narrative, which is the tragic tale of the holy, holy base, the victory of which would be entirely assured if not for the machinations of the perfidious Establishment. Never mind the Democrats, economic realities, Putin, ISIS, the geographical facts of the U.S.-Mexico border — all would be well and all manner of things would be well if not for the behind-the-scenes plotting of Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and their enablers, who apparently can be bribed with small numbers of cocktail weenies. The WHINO is a Republican conspiracy theorist, in whose fervid imaginings all the players – victims, villains – are Republicans.”

Williamson added that WHINOs are enamored of Donald Trump “not because Trump confounds the Democrats or because he constitutes a serious threat to a Democratic victory in 2016, but because he confounds the Republicans and constitutes a serious threat to a Republican victory in 2016.”

His column sparked immediate discussion within conservative circles. Fox News's Brit Hume praised it on Twitter as a “terrific piece,” while Florida political consultant Rick Wilson called it a “must read” and Commentary editor/New York Post columnist John Podhoretz concurred: “The WHINO. That’s good.”

On, Joel Pollak said that Williamson made “the valid point that conservatives who favor ideological purity or populist venting over electability are going to lose a lot of elections.” But Pollak said the criticism missed the real reason for Trump’s surge: “He is taking on the media. Or, more accurately, he is being victimized by it.”

Chuck McCutcheon and David Mark write their "Speaking Politics" blog exclusively for Politics Voices.

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