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April 16, 2005
Money Won't Reform GOP Leadership

Since I wrote the post "Not. One. Dime." two days ago in response to the news that the Senate GOP leadership doesn't plan on addressing filibusters on judicial nominations for weeks (Frist) or even months (Santorum), a predictable debate has arisen among the right about the effect of a money shortage on the NRSC and Republican efforts to hold the majority in 2006. Bloggers with whom I normally agree have scolded me. My VRWC -- an excellent blogger -- takes me to task for not remembering 1992 and Ross Perot in my comments section. My friend Matt Margolis of GOP Bloggers does much the same on his site.

I'm not moved.

Can anyone remember why George H. W. Bush lost in 1992, why his base lost their enthusiasm for his candidacy? Bush had campaigned in 1988 as a disciple of Ronald Reagan, promising to hold the line on taxes and identified that as his primary domestic priority. He told us, "Read my lips -- no new taxes!" And as soon as the Democrats challenged him on that ... he caved. He raised taxes, turning a mild correction into a nagging recession that enabled a lunatic like Ross Perot to ride in on Bush's flank and give the election to Bill Clinton. I remember it all too well -- as I volunteered for Bush's campaign.

By the way, did the Democrats give Bush any credit for his flexibility or his willingness to seek compromise? No. They replayed the "Read my lips" video clip all through 1992 to show Bush as a liar who couldn't be trusted. The Democrats played to win, and they did.

Bush (I) didn't fight for his priorities. That's what cost the GOP the White House, not the understandable disappointment of the Republicans who voted for him in 1988 to represent their economic priorities. Instead, they flocked to Perot, whose spectacular success in business and blunt manner of speaking attracted those who had lost trust in Bush's political backbone, and whose pie charts hid the borderline nutcase behind the financial and managerial genius of the upstart Texan.

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.

Now with a solid majority, and new Minority Leader Harry Reid allowing all sorts of antics to disrupt Senate business, the GOP had no more excuses. After the rude and disruptive confirmation of Condoleezza Rice, Frist should have understood that the gloves were off this session no matter what. He should have called for the rule change right then, while the Republicans in the Senate still had a sense of their mandate. And real legislative leaders would have reminded the fence-sitters exactly what that mandate meant.

Instead, three months later, we're still weeks or months away from the GOP addressing what it told us was its principal domestic priority -- confirming constructionists for the appellate courts. Not only have Frist & Co. allowed the momentum to slip away, they've hardly mentioned the problem at all. Only this week have we found out that the Democrats have stopped showing up for Judiciary Committee meetings in an effort to deny a quorum for committee business. Where are the press releases for this embarassment? Why hasn't Arlen Specter and Bill Frist held press conferences detailing how Democrats spend their day while blowing off their legislative responsiblities?

This leadership doesn't know how to fight. They don't know how to win. They're so busy trying to reason with Reid and the Democrats that they don't realize what Bush I found out far too late: they're not interested in compromise or reason. They're playing to win.

I am not interested in providing funding for a replay of 1990 in this session of Congress. If the current Senate leadership doesn't have the will to fight for its beliefs, then sending them money makes as much sense as taking an alcoholic to the nearest Liquor Barn. After two years and three months, we have been patient enough with the incompetence shown by Bill Frist. We can't wait until the next election is upon us to see if they'll act. The Democrats will have held up every significant appellate nomination by that time. That certainly won't be fair to the nominees, who have been unfairly tarnished and demonized by the radical Leftists and left twisting in the wind by their supposed allies in the GOP.

We have time to fix the problem, however -- if we act now instead of in 2006. Cut the money off now to get the message through to the rest of the Senate that we will not wait any longer for them to learn power politics at the feet of Harry Reid, of all people. We've poured money, volunteer hours, and millions of new votes into the effort, and none of that has made a dent. It's time for a new strategy to get our message across, and fast. If we wait for next year, we will have missed a window of opportunity that we may not see again for years.

UPDATE: Corrected My VRWC's blog name and a coding error in the last paragraph, which obscured my argument that the time to get this message across is in 2005, because it isn't an election year.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 16, 2005 6:52 AM

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