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Third Party Challenger = Stalinist?

Frank Rich really lit into the Republican Party yesterday:

a riotous and bloody national G.O.P. civil war.

a G.O.P. killing field

confirms just how swiftly the right has devolved into a wacky, paranoid cult that is as eager to eat its own as it is to destroy Obama

would gladly see the Republican Party die on the cross of right-wing ideological purity

To the right’s Jacobins, that’s cause to send her to the guillotine.

The wrecking crew of Kristol, Fred Thompson, Dick Armey, Michele Bachmann, The Wall Street Journal editorial page and the government-bashing Club for Growth all joined the Hoffman putsch

the Stalinists of the right

Wow, that's a lot of harsh metaphors. What is the basis of this bloody, paranoid, martyr-seeking, Jacobin, Stalinist putsch? Well, I'll let Rich describe it:

The New York fracas was ignited by the routine decision of 11 local Republican county chairmen to anoint an assemblywoman, Dede Scozzafava, as their party’s nominee for the vacant seat. The 23rd is in safe Republican territory that hasn’t sent a Democrat to Congress in decades. And Scozzafava is a mainstream conservative by New York standards; one statistical measure found her voting record slightly to the right of her fellow Republicans in the Assembly. But she has occasionally strayed from orthodoxy on social issues (abortion, same-sex marriage) and endorsed the Obama stimulus package.

So wait. Some GOP hacks appointed a relative moderate to represent a district that could probably sustain a much more conservative representative, and conservatives are trying to elect a more right-wing alternative. What exactly is the problem here? Rich paints Scozzafava's heresies as minor. But suppose this was a solidly Democratic district, and party bosses put forward an anti-stimulus, anti-abortion, anti-gay rights nominee. Would Rich really oppose a liberal campaign to elect a more like-minded representative? Would he employ such virtiolic metaphors? There's a lesson here about making a moral cause out of a procedural argument you're not prepared to back in opposite circumstances.