May 1, 2005

Jack Kelly: GOP Needs A Spine

Jack Kelly of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette makes the argument that the GOP has lost political momentum through the lackadaisical effort of its legislative caucuses, especially in the Senate, since the elections last year. Kelly writes that a lack of effort and basic competence in the Republican leadership has allowed the Democrats to bounce back from their stunning defeats, assisted by an ever-willing Exempt Media:

Democrats may have been waxed at the polls last November, but they're running rings around Republicans in the public relations battles so far this year. Consider:

* Polls indicate a majority of Americans agree with President Bush that reform of Social Security is needed, and about half of Americans favor his plan to permit workers to divert a portion of their Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts. But in the most recent poll (taken for CBS April 13-16), only 25 percent of respondents indicated they were "confident" Bush would make the right decisions about Social Security, while 70 percent were "uneasy."

* The president's nomination of Undersecretary of State John Bolton to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is in trouble after waffling by GOP Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio forced postponement until May 12 of a vote in the Foreign Relations Committee. Nominees rarely gain strength while they twist in the wind.

* In a poll taken by Ayres-McHenry (a Republican firm) on April 4, 78 percent of respondents said senators have a constitutional duty to vote on judicial nominees. Yet in a recent poll taken for Senate Republicans, 51 percent of respondents opposed ending the Democratic filibuster that has been blocking votes on Bush's nominees for federal appeals courts.

Democrats benefit enormously from having most of the major media in the tank for them. Although media bias is more egregious than ever, it's not exactly a new phenomenon. You'd think Republicans would be prepared for it by now.

Plenty of blame exists for these developments, and Kelly spreads it around to everyone, including the White House, for not focusing on legislative business more effectively. He argues, I believe convincingly, that a tactical loss on one front was expected, but losing on all fronts shows a serious lack of competence in party leadership. Read all of his excellent column today, and consider just how much of the President's expressed priorities have even been addressed by this session of Congress yet. The only issues that have moved through the Senate, for instance, are one portion of tort reform, the bankruptcy reform act, and a highway bill still under debate. Nothing on the Patriot Act renewal, Social Security reform, or the judicial confirmations that the GOP advertised as its highest domestic priority. They haven't even gotten the additional funding passed yet for the war on terror.

Not exactly a track record of excellence as the fourth month of the session draws to a close...


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