It has been an awkward winter and spring for the Grand Old Party, but as the city sanitation department sweeps away the last of the cherry blossoms, the Republicans seem to be re-forming as a coherent fighting mechanism.
Winter got off to a bad start when the tidal waves killed hundreds of thousands of Asians and, more to the political point, swept away the aura of good feelings following the Republicans' triumphant November election results. That gave Democrats a chance to feel good about themselves again by beating up on "American stinginess," while Republicans had to apologize for the mere billion dollars and the seventh fleet rescue mission we dispatched.
After a rousing Inaugural Address, President Bush set Republicans to further nervous fidgeting with his State of the Union "cry havoc and let slip the dogs of Social Security reform." Republican congressmen naturally feared that "this foul deed shall smell above the earth with carrion men, groaning for burial" (Shakespeare's version of the third rail).
Then, the Republicans apparently irked the public with their efforts to save the poor Schiavo woman, which in turn launched the DemocraticPartyNewYorkTimesWashingtonPostCBSCNN mudball attack on Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. For about three weeks, the House Republicans, leaderless, wandered around bumping into each other and thinking about throwing Old Tom overboard.
At the same time the Senate Republicans, without the benefit of any White House planning or leadership, were letting the Democrats use President Bush's nominee to the UN, John Bolton, as a human pinata (except that in this game, the pinata was blindfolded and the Democratic children with sticks had their eyes wide open).
Further enervating Republican elan was Senate Majority Leader Frist's tedious, slow-motion, half threat of ending judicial filibusters.
It was a sorry picture indeed: A city full of large, ivory tusked, bull battle elephants driven to fear, distraction and goring each other by the braying of a pack of mangy jack asses.
But the Democrats appear to have overplayed their hand. The tactic of "boo" must be used sparingly, preferably when it is dark and preferably directed at unsuspecting targets. After the donkeys with alligator masks on have jumped out from behind the Capitol columns three or four times in succession in broad daylight shouting "boo," the Republican elephants have begun to realize that the only danger to them is if they stumble down the steps in response to the "boo."
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.