One would think that a political party, drunk on power, pork, and perks, who suffered a humiliating and devastating loss at the polls would take a few weeks to sit down and reflect seriously on the root cause of that defeat and make a good faith effort to address the problems that led to the electoral debacle in the first place by making changes in leadership, in message, and in reaching out to disaffected members.
One would think so – unless you’re talking about Republicans.
The first test was coming up with new blood for the position of party chairman – a test they not only failed but ended up deliberately kicking their base right in the teeth. Not only did Bush push his old buddy now Senator Mel Martinez into the slot but to add insult, to injury, to fatal wounding, he is allowing Mr. Martinez to perform his duties at his leisure on a part time basis while still remaining Senator. And in one of the true ironies of this generation, he has chosen a man who represents a position on illegal immigration that caused perhaps millions of conservatives to stay home on election day thus almost certainly contributing to the loss of the Senate and several close House races.
(NOTE: If I were a Floridian, I would be too mad for words at this stupidity. If the fricking Senator doesn’t have enough to do that he can go out and devote constituent time to party matters, then perhaps they can find a way to help him devote full time to his hobby of helping the GOP and let someone who wants to devote full time to representing the people take over. Un. Be. Leivable.)
Obviously, the President and party leaders believe the reason they lost is because they didn’t push their amnesty plan hard enough. I’m sure J.D. Hayworth and a half dozen other Congressmen who will be looking for work come January could disabuse them of that ridiculous notion.
And one word about the obvious Hispanic outreach with this choice. I’m all for expanding the party but you don’t do it by pandering to ethnic and racial groups. Just ask the Democrats where that got them. You expand the party by the force of your ideas and the attractiveness of the personalities of your leaders. Martinez is a nice enough fellow but he has not impressed me as being much of Senator or a leader. And strike three is his statement that he “wouldn’t be an attack dog” in 2008. Okay, not an attack dog but how about a forceful advocate for the party and a solid hand at the thrust and parry of partisan politics. If the guy is not going to be a good partisan, why appoint him in the first place?
Not content with flushing the party down the crapper, Senate Republicans just today elected Trent Lott as Minority Whip, the number 2 slot in the leadership.
Yes, THAT Trent Lott. Time may heal all wounds but it doesn’t hide the fact that Lott fulsomely praised a man who ran for President for the sole and exclusive purpose of blocking efforts by the federal government to relieve southern blacks from the obscenity of second class citizenship. As a side benefit, Lott has dismissed people who complain about pork barrel spending as ignorant. So, with one stroke, the Senate has reinforced the myth that the GOP is a party of southern race baiters and big government spenders.
Bee. Utiful. Just what the Democratic doctor ordered.
Finally to Grandma Pelosi’s House we go to look in on Republicans who lost almost 30 seats (final count still not set) and whose very first instinct appears to be to elect as Minority Leader a man who bravely led them to that singular electoral debacle as Majority Leader. John Boehner is another nice fellow who has advanced far beyond his abilities. Uninspiring to a fault, one of the architects of the “K Street Project” that gave lobbyists unprecedented access to the legislative process (and almost unlimited opportunity to stuff bills with pork), Boehner’s selection would scream “stay the course” when the ship has already foundered on the shoals of disaster. Mike Pence would be better but his recent mea culpa for his advocacy of the immigration bill smacks of an insincerity that the GOP could do without.
But the absolute most shocking choice that Republicans in the House seem poised to make would be to reelect Roy Blunt to Tom DeLay’s old post as whip. To say that this close DeLay ally’s election would send exactly the wrong signal to the rest of the country about cleaning up the party is to state the obvious. To have House Republicans even contemplating Blunt’s reelection is the height of arrogance and hubris. They are spitting at the base. They are spitting at the House as an institution. And they are spitting right in the eye of the American people and telling them to go screw themselves.
The fact that Blunt spent last weekend at a golf course sponsored by some lobbying outfit not only makes him one arrogant son of a bitch but tone deaf as well. Blunt needs to be kicked so far out of the leadership that they would have to put a chair outside in the Capitol Hill parking lot just to make sure he was as far back as a back bencher could get.
Representative Shaddeg would be better but not ideal. At least he’s honest. And his colleagues evidently respect him. Fine. Minority Whip in this caucus isn’t quite as important given its reduced numbers and the loss of so many of the more moderate members of the party. This should make it a little easier to gather votes in opposition to some of the Democrats more outrageous proposals.
The day after the election debacle, I looked at many of the districts where the GOP lost close races and thought that if the party can turn itself around, kick out the deadwood, and elevate a new generation of leaders who could forcefully advocate true conservative principles and positions, then many of those blue Congressmen who got elected in very red districts could be defeated in 2008 and the GOP could retake the House.
But today, I am much less sanguine about the chances for a Republican resurgence. In fact, I see more losses in 2008 even if we win the Presidency and another several years or more in the political wilderness. This is the consequence of putting amoral, arrogant, power hungry people in charge of the party. And the hell of it is, an election debacle like the one we just went through should have given the entire party an excuse to change. And so far, all I see is more of the same.
Malkin rounds up react to the Lott disaster, calling it a “Maalox Moment.” Given Lott’s penchant for exhibiting diarrhea of the mouth, perhaps we should throw in some Imodium as well.
Also, John Little has a superior round up of blog reaction that shows that the GOP is in big trouble with its biggest supporters.
At this point, one can legitimately wonder if these moves will begin to affect fund raising efforts. Less money coming in would be the perfect topper to this disaster.
Dean Barnett is celebrating. Glad to see someone pleased…NOT!