FINDING THE GOP’S MOJO…. I suppose it doesn’t take much to make Republicans happy these days. According to an interesting Washington Post piece, the party’s leaders “see glimmers of rebirth.”
After giving the package zero votes in the House, and with their counterparts in the Senate likely to provide in a crucial procedural vote today only the handful of votes needed to avoid a filibuster, Republicans are relishing the opportunity to make a big statement. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.) suggested last week that the party is learning from the disruptive tactics of the Taliban, and the GOP these days does have the bravado of an insurgent band that has pulled together after a big defeat to carry off a quick, if not particularly damaging, raid on the powers that be.
“We’re so far ahead of where we thought we’d be at this time,” said Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), one of several younger congressmen seeking to lead the party’s renewal. “It’s not a sign that we’re back to where we need to be, but it’s a sign that we’re beginning to find our voice. We’re standing on our core principles, and the core principle that suffered the most in recent years was fiscal conservatism and economic liberty. That was the tallest pole in our tent, and we took an ax to it, but now we’re building it back.”
The second-ranking House Republican, Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.), put it more bluntly. “What transpired . . . and will give us a shot in the arm going forward is that we are standing up on principle and just saying no,” he said.
Hmm. President Obama has been in office for 20 days. He’s signed the Lily Ledbetter measure into law over Republican objections. He’s signed S-CHIP expansion into law over Republican objections. He’s signed several executive orders on key national and internal policies over Republican objections, and he’s secured agreement from both the House and Senate on an ambitious stimulus package over Republican objections.
But the congressional GOP has its head held high because they’ve come up with a reckless and irresponsible economic worldview, and convinced the party to rally around it. They’re thrilled because, in the midst of a genuine economic crisis, the party, with near unanimity, has agreed not to have any constructive policy role whatsoever.
“We’re so far ahead of where we thought we’d be at this time.” I take that to mean GOP leaders feared that some contingents of the Republican caucuses would acknowledge reality and recognize the significance of an electoral mandate. The goal was to convince rank-and-file Republicans to take a firm stand against the advice of economists, governors, the business community, and the party that just won national elections, but there were widespread fears the GOP wouldn’t go along.
I guess the right had nothing to worry about.