I tend to think that people overestimate the behavioral differences between the two parties. Democrats are certain that Republicans are lockstep automatons willing to go to any length to win, but Republicans often feel that way about Democrats. That said, I'm trying to think of a time when Republicans overreacted this badly. I remember when they lost former speaker Dennis Hastert's seat in a special election, but I can't recall the party collapsing in on itself in such paroxysms of terror. Harris Wofford used health-care ads to unexpectedly close a 44-point gap to win a special election in Pennsylvania, and Republicans still murdered the Clinton reforms the next year.
So help me out here. Are there even any contenders? Or are Republicans just made of sterner stuff?
Yes, there are and no, they are not. One could dig up any number of Chicken Little Republican reactions to the attacks of September 11, 2001, but here's an InstaPutz favorite:
GEORGE BUSH IS NOW THE MOST POWERFUL MAN IN THE WORLD: People always say that about Presidents, of course, but usually it's only notionally true. Now, if he wants to nuke Baghdad, there is nobody to say him nay -- and damned few who would want to.
Recall: When a couple of Saudi guys with box cutters attacked Washington and NYC, the first reaction of most Republicans, including the President, was to destroy Baghdad.
I think we can all agree this was an overreaction.