Brian Birdnow

In a very recent study pollster John Zogby suggested that the Republican Party is facing difficulties so daunting that the very survival of the organization hinges on the Party’s ability to successfully meet these challenges. He claims that the Republicans might fold altogether if they fail to negotiate a safe passage through these storms, pointing out the well-known demographic trends working against the GOP, noting their inability to attract votes from minority groups, and referring to the now cavernous gap between the two Parties in terms of money available, both immediately and in the near future. While Zogby’s contention that the Republican Party might fold is very likely overhyped, the GOP is facing many difficulties, which go far beyond the analysis of the pollsters and the focus groups.

The Republican Party suffers now from lack of a program, lack of leadership, and lack of an overall strategy. If the observer considers the Republican performance over the last few months he will notice the Party fumbling many issues and committing the same type of errors that caused them to forfeit public confidence and to lose control of the legislative and executive branches of the government. Since early May the GOP has missed an opportunity by failing to press House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the Bush Administration enhanced interrogation briefings. Granted, the House Speaker herself refuses to discuss the matter, and a complicit media actively shields her on the issue, but Republican failure to hammer this relentlessly has allowed the affair to slip out of public consciousness.

The Party does not have a unified stance on Sonia Sotomayor and her nomination to the Supreme Court. In recent days Senator Sessions and Senator Grassley have announced their opposition, but Senators Graham, Collins, and Snowe have signaled their support. Moreover, during the open hearings on the nomination the Republican members on the Judiciary Committee largely concentrated on the nominee’s self-important “…wise Latina woman…” soundbite and ignored the fact that Judge Sotomayor’s rulings have been appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court eight times and the high court reversed her on five of those decisions. A reversal rate upwards of 60% would indicate that Sonia Sotomayor does not know the law, yet the GOP cannot find the fortitude to question her capability, much less oppose her nomination.

Brian Birdnow

Brian E. Birdnow is a historian and teaches at a university in the St. Louis area.