Nineteen sixty four was not a good year for Republicans. Johnson was riding the crest of the legislative legacy of the martyred John F. Kennedy. And he was garnering the sympathy and respect of millions of people for the way he handled the difficult transition during that tragic time.
All this would have meant a solid victory for Johnson despite rumblings from southern Democrats over the civil rights act. By 1964, those party conservatives were already fighting a rear guard action, hopelessly out maneuvered by first Kennedy and then Johnson. Only in the 5 states of the old cotton south would that anger spill over into tangible electoral results for the Republicans as Goldwater (in a harbinger of things to come) took Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina (with Barry’s home state of Arizona being the only other state going Republican).
What turned this election from being a solid Democrat win into the biggest landslide in American history was the the Republican convention in San Francisco. It was there that Republicans sealed their own fate by proving they’d rather be “right” than win. This attitude manifested itself in the inability of Goldwaterites to recognize that by drumming the Rockefeller wing out of the Republican party, they were dooming themselves to almost permanent minority status.
That year, Democrats won an unholy 27 of 35 Senate races to give them an majority in the 88th Congress of 66-34. And in the House, Democrats gained 36 seats to give them an edge of 293-139.
It took the Republicans 30 years to recover.
Now apparently, some loyal, hardworking Republicans wish to prove once again that it’s better to be “right” than win as Ed Morrisey, Hugh Hewitt, and others want to pressure Majority Leader Bill Frist to go ahead and break the filibuster of the President’s judicial nominees. By pledging not to give any money to the GOP until Frist “goes nuclear” and allow a procedural vote that would confirm the nominees by a simple majority thus preventing filibusters, the Captain and other like minded loyal Republicans are tying Frist’s hands at an extremely delicate moment.
If Robert Novak is to be believed, Frist has all but three members of his caucus ready to vote in favor of eliminating the stalling tactics of the Democrats. But several of those votes are “soft.” And its unclear if he’ll have the same numbers on his side by mid-week.
And that’s why it appears that Frist is turning to the religious right to stiffen the backbone of a few of his wobbly colleagues. The Majority Leader is set to a appear on a TV show with James Dobson sponsored by the Family Research Council, a questionable move given that the Democrats have been making political capital selling the idea that the Republicans are controlled by the Christian extremists. Dobson is part of what I’d consider the “loonbat” wing of the Christian right with his ridiculous protests against the PBS kids show The Teletubbies, among other idiocies. Will Collier at Vodkapundit has some excellent thoughts on this angle:
And I think he’s making a mistake by associating himself so closely with the Dobson effort. There’s nothing wrong with Christian conservatives organizing to support nominees they approve of, any more than anything being wrong with Ralph Neas or the ACLU organizing lefties to oppose them (I wish some on the left and libertarian side of the blogosphere could bring themselves to admit that), but it’s also just as inappropriate for Frist to be as in bed with the Dobson group as it is for Neas to be calling the dance steps for the Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee.
Here’s the Captain’s reasoning for his protest:
The current slate of GOP leaders in the Senate have become the equivalent of Bush I. They promised action to stop the two-year obstructionism of the Democrats if only the electorate would give the GOP a solid Senate majority with which to do it. While people can debate whether the current President Bush had a mandate from this past election, no one can doubt the mandate that the GOP got in its Senate results. The Democratic leader who ran the filibusters got tossed out of the Senate and the GOP wound up with a 10-seat majority.
Alright, fair enough. But what’s the rush? Where’s the fire? Why now?
There was talk last week about the GOP possibly moving on some other legislation like tort reform before confronting the Democrats over judges. Given the consequences of a Democratic shut down of the Senate, that sounds like a sound idea to me. Who do you think the voters are going to blame for a virtual shut down of government? Let me put it to you another way; who do you think the media is going to portray as responsible? ” And I see where Frist would think it important that the Republicans have some tangible accomplishments to take to the voters if worse comes to worse.
Hugh Hewitt agrees with the Ed and adds a political note:
It is crucial that a vote be scheduled and held on breaking the filibuster before the perceived dithering benches the base for the next cycle. If we lose six GOP senators, then we will know what the problem is, and we will have an issue in Florida, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota and other red states with Democratic senators up for re-election in 2006.
Again, hard to disagree with. But we’re not even three months into the Congressional term! The “base” may be antsy, but I can’t see the need to crack up the caucus over this issue especially since over time, Frist may be able to peel off one or two Democrats.
Matt Margolis lists some of the pitfalls of the protest advocated by the Captain and Hugh:
It’s disturbing to read a fellow conservative blogger advocating that we cease donating money to the Republican Party due to disagreements with how they’ve fought for us. It’s a no win situation to not help our leaders in any way we can. You can’t be pleased with their actions all the time. It was Republican self-righteousness that ultimately gave us eight years of Bill Clinton… Think about it
Spot on. So far, the Republicans haven’t been very effective in translating their electoral victory into tangible results on the floor of the Congress. Meanwhile, the Democrats have been speaking with one voice and at the same time, absolutely skewering the Republicans on a variety of issues.
Only a united party will be able to counter the Democrats. I hope the Captain, Hugh, and other disgruntled Republicans come back to the fold before it costs us at the polls.
Beth at My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy has some contact information as well as an interesting thought on the tactics advocated by Hugh and Ed:
Letâ€™s not eat our own like the Buchananites and the Perotistas who abandoned Bush â€˜41 and ended up electing Klintoon. Iâ€™m sure most anyone can find something to criticize about the way things are done in one way or another, but isnâ€™t it infinitely preferable to handing things over to the Left
The consequences of more activist judges are almost too horrible to contemplate. Better to stick with the devil you know than fool with the devil you don’t.