First, the “liberal-lites.” Then, the moderate conservatives. Then, RINOs compromisers, pragmatists, intellectuals, pundits, those with Ivy League educations, GOP governors who expand Medicaid, senators who flip-flop on gay marriage, those who don’t hate Obama enough, and anyone named Romney.

Did I miss anyone the conservative base has purged in recent months? The list is long and getting longer all the time. Pretty soon, the Republicans will be able to hold their convention in a conference room at the Holiday Inn.

Casting about desperately for someone else to kick to the curb, the right wing has targeted GOP political “consultants” as objects of their rage.

Yeah, I’m down with that. Political consultants are kind of like lawyers, and you know what Shakespeare said we should do with lawyers: tar and feathering is too good for them. After all, if it weren’t for the consultants, the 2012 election would have been in the bag.

Well, what else are we going to blame defeat on? It couldn’t have been the 1980s era platform that Romney ran on. It couldn’t have been Todd Akin and his magical mystery womb. It couldn’t have been all those right wingers screaming about half the country getting a free ride at their expense. It couldn’t have been the half dozen cockamamie conspiracy theories invented about Obama.

By simple process of elimination, it had to be the consultants’ fault.

A bemused Katrina Trinko at NRO:

Here at CPAC, it’s evident that in the aftermath of the devastating November election conservatives are turning not on the losing candidates — Mitt Romney, for one, was warmly received – but on the people who ran their campaigns. With an eye to 2014 elections, some conservatives and tea partiers are pushing a new solution: Down with the consultants.

In an interview with NRO, Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, blasted the professional political class, decrying “any consultant who thinks that they can come into a state and say, ‘this is who you need to have as your representative and we’re going to make sure that person is elected.’”

“That is the antithesis of what we’ve been talking about in this whole entire movement,” she said. “We want limited government. That means we don’t want Washington, D.C., making laws that limit how we live our lives, and we sure don’t want people from Washington, D.C. — consultants — telling us who is going to represent us.”

The rage reached its height during a panel on Thursday entitled “Should We Shoot All the Consultants Now?” During the discussion, Democratic pollster Pat Caddell ranted against campaign consultants, saying, “they’re in the business in the lining of their pockets and preserving their power.”

“Any presidential candidate who allows consultant to run his campaign for president is a fool,” Caddell said, referring to Mitt Romney’s choice of campaign consultant Stuart Stevens as senior strategist. “And the worse executive I’ve ever seen is Mitt Romney.”

Caddell slammed Stevens by name, saying he was no more qualified to run a presidential campaign than Caddell was to fly. “The subtext of Stu Stevens running around the last several weeks has been a simple message: ‘Look, I threw the election for you, why don’t you like me?’” he joked.

Thus spake a man who was a top advisor to an incumbent candidate who lost by the biggest Electoral College margin of any sitting president in history.

“Shoot the consultants”? The level of desperation to avoid looking in the mirror and assigning blame for defeat exactly where it belongs is getting comical. Mitt Romney deserves much disapprobation for his performance during the campaign. But when consultants are blamed for not calling Obama vicious enough names, or for not hitting him hard enough, or for failing to point out that the president is trying to destroy the country, you have reached a level of denial that is both unhealthy and disheartening.

Where is the introspection, the self-examination that would lead to the beginning of an understanding of how conservatism has reached this, the lowest point in several generations? Instead, all we get is attack, and purge, and attack, and attack again, lashing out at those who would be the right’s natural allies and who agree with them on 90% of the issues, but fail some mythical test of ideology or temperament.

The issue is not political consultants, many of whom are indeed overpaid courtiers who leech off candidates and fatten their expense accounts while presiding over disaster after disaster. Nor is the issue a matter of ideological purity, or loyalty to a personality or a particular issue, or even candidate selection — a surprise to Karl Rove and his rich friends who believe the key to victory is running roughshod over local control of party matters in order to choose “winnable” candidates.

The issue is unity. Unless that can be achieved in the next few years, something simple and vital about America will be lost and we may never get it back.