Friday, May 05, 2006

Where's the Beef?

It's a matter of historical fact that for over 20 years the GOP has been wooing conservatives on a national level with the theme that the GOP stood eager and ready to enact the conservative agenda, only it was frustrated by the lack of institutional control. Partisan control of the branches of government would translate into ideological reform of federal policy--we were told.

And it worked wonderfully: the House changed hands for the first time in forty years; the partisan majority in the Senate increased with each election; and Bush won re-election with the highest turnout as both absolute numbers and percentage in decades.

But so what? "Where's the beef?"

Some very smart people--Hugh Hewitt is probably the most prominent example-- have made the very dumb mistake of thinking this is a permanent formula for bringing energetic conservatives to the polls.

In fact, they think they've hit the winning solution to permanent partisan control: promise conservatives that they'll enact the conservative agenda ASAP, and promise the center that they will actually do no such thing for the forseeable future.

That is why the "brains" of the GOP are willing to throw about $100 million into Pennsylvania, to elect both Sen. Santorum and Sen. Specter. The fact that they are each promising to butt heads on policy is literally irrelevant.

The end result is a very sparse record of achievement compared to similar periods when one party had majorities in both chambers and the White House--such as FDR's tenure, for example.

A Hapsburg empress, looking back on the revolts of 1848, said "The country was administered, not governed." I get the same sense that the GOP would rather punt on every issue, than offend any voters--or RINOs-- with a solution. And that is not just a conservative or Republican problem, it is an American problem.

1 comment:

francois said...

Keep in mind though that FDR had bigger majorities to work with.

Republican majorities are so slim that all it takes is a couple of defectors from the more liberal members to scuttle spending control.

Although the REpublicans have a majority, there is not yet a majority that favor spending control. In order to have a good shot at controlling spending, we either need a President willing to use a veto(there are enough anti-spending Republicans to uphold most vetoes), or much bigger majorities(probably on the level of FDR's majorities, 70-30 or so).

It's going to be much easier to take the White House in 2008 and I think John McCain is the most likely guy to veto excessive spending bills.