Mona Charen

Republicans, of course, are not riding high at the moment. The past year has delivered a series of blows: the slow progress in Iraq; Cindy Sheehan's virtual canonization by the media; Hurricane Katrina; the Valerie Plame circus; Tom DeLay's indictment and resignation; and the abortive nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. (There was good news as well, but those preparing to defeat Hillary need to correct what went wrong.) Grass-roots Republicans are dismayed by the big-spending ways of the majority party, and some are appalled that Republicans have not taken a tougher stand on illegal immigration.

Podhoretz pleads with Republicans to resist the temptation to punish their leaders. Acknowledging that the issues raised are important, he nonetheless argues that no election result has yet borne out the idea that illegal immigration is the paramount issue facing America today. In 2005, Republican Jerry Kilgore attempted to use the issue in his race for governor of Virginia. He lost. So did Jim Gilchrist in a special congressional election in California. True. But in 1994, Proposition 187 won 59 percent of the vote in California. Let's say the jury's out. But Podhoretz's larger point is that Republicans can ill afford a damaging schism on this or any other issue before 2008. The stakes are too high.

If Hillary Clinton is to be kept from the Oval Office, Republicans will need a game plan. Some of the suggestions in "Can She Be Stopped?" are absolutely essential. Example: Hillary should not be permitted to keep silent on issues that may box her in. Her preferred tactic is to coast to the nomination without having to commit herself. Republicans should demand to hear her views on taxes, on the United Nations, on tort reform, on the Patriot Act, Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, in short, on every conceivable question that will bear on the 2008 race.

Also, if Republicans maintain control of the Senate in 2006, they should force her to vote on controversial resolutions that will further smoke her out as well as force her to choose between the campaign trail and her responsibilities as a senator.

Finally, Podhoretz has a suggestion about whom the Republicans should and should not nominate to oppose her. But I'll let readers discover that for themselves. Read this book.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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