As my readers know, I try to be fair. I'll be the first to say that President-Elect Obama has impressed me in his handling so far of an unusual presidential transition; one in which a broken GOP lost because it had lost its principled way. But Republicans didn't lose seats in Congress because they scorched the earth; and certainly not because they were somehow held hostage by the religious right.
For one thing, there aren't enough Republican elected officials right now with the sense to scorch their own pants with an iron, much less to scorch the planet.
And as for the notion that there is this great Southern "Bible Belt" holding Republicans back from being accepted by mainstream America, well, here's a news flash: In recent years, most marquee Christian right candidates for major office in the South have gone down in flames.
I submit that what Broder recalls as bullying during the Republican Revolution of the 1990s was instead resolute and politically tough implementation of bold, innovative and popular ideas. Yes, Gingrich and his crowd could be tough. But do I think Nancy Pelosi, Charlie Rangel or Barney Frank -- today's Democratic House leadership -- are less the bulls in a china shop? Not a chance.
And had Newt not stood his ground, the Clinton years of prosperity in the 1990s might never have happened. Why? Because it was that "scorcher," Speaker Gingrich, who forced Clinton to agree to the major cut in capital gains taxes that led to a flood of new participation in America's financial markets.
I'm the last to put down bipartisanship. And as I've written before, we all need to back our new president. Because if he fails, we may enter a longstanding depression.
As for future Republican leaders, I can't begin to tell you which name will emerge as the one to lead the party out of the wilderness.
But this I do know: The Gingrich Revolution was built from ideas, not scorched earth. And if the GOP wants to have a prayer of ever leading this nation again, it had better start putting forth creative answers just as the Republicans of 1994 did. And then they had better find the backbone to fight for those ideas. Scorched earth or not.
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