SIMON GETS AN EARFUL…. The Politico’s Roger Simon apparently dined with a Republican U.S. senator recently, who gave him an earful about what ails the GOP.

The old labels that the Republicans used to hang on the Democrats did not stick.

“The Democrats talked about middle-class tax cuts! They weren’t the party of the poor anymore! They weren’t the party of gun control anymore! What did Republicans want? Tax cuts for the rich! And small government,” he says.

Small government — the mantra of the Republican Party ever since Ronald Reagan — will not work anymore, the senator says.

“We can’t revive the ghost of Ronald Reagan,” he says. “People want government in times of need.”

The Mystery Senator also believes the party needs “someone who speaks from the center,” adding, “Sarah Palin is not the voice of our party.”

Responding to the piece, Atrios noted, “I appreciate why reporters grant certain people anonymity, but sitting US Senators?”

Quite right. What’s the point of making all of these quotes not-for-attribution? If this guy wants to get this message out, he should have the nerve to say so on the record.

It’s mildly reassuring to know, I suppose, that there’s a sitting Republican senator who believes these things, so to that extent, I at least found Simon’s piece interesting. But candid assessments of a troubled party from a member of Congress need not be anonymous.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.