One of today’s chattering class preoccupations is a (naturally!) Politico story that says Senate Republicans are tussling behind the scenes over whether to issue some sort of manifesto modeled on (naturally!) the Contract With America.
This makes me tired, as any effort to replay tapes the player doesn’t even remember accurately tends to do. Most 1994 voters were entirely unwaware of the Contract With America (a data point so old I cannot find a contemporary link for!). The Contract itself was a mismash of small- bore bills with misleading names like “Taking Back the Streets!”, old chestnuts still around like the line-item appropriations veto, a balanced budget constitutional amendment and tort reform, and gimmicks like promising a vote on term limits. Best as I can recall, the one thing that actually came out of it was a term limit on committee chairmanships, which was actually a good idea but hardly anything a single Republican campaigned on.
The contemporary effort to redo the Contract appears to be the product of a desire to look “positive” and not just “negative” going into November. Republicans could actually accomplish that “pivot” through two simple expedients: reaching agreement on an Obamacare replacement plan, and publicly and loudly foreswearing any interest in impeaching the president based on anything that’s happened in his administration to this point. Fat chance of either of those things happening, eh?