Republicans Must Make a Plan Before November

Posted: May 09, 2006 3:17 PM

Fire Congress! That's pretty tempting, isn't it? It's the sort of thing that could bring the country together.

In a recent piece called "A Congress Gone to Pot" my colleagues Kate O'Beirne and Rich Lowry take aim at our congressional friends: "Congressional Republican governance has gone through phases that can be roughly described as Revolution (1994-1996), Consolidation (1996-2002), and Deterioration (2002-present). The deterioration has steadily gotten worse. The Republican majority has lately been notable for its bungling, fecklessness, self-serving defensiveness and hysteria -- sometimes all at once. The congressional majority has repudiated Republican governance before voters even have the chance to do the same this November."

If that's what we're saying at a conservative magazine about the current Republican majority, it's no wonder Congress is polling dreadfully, garnering a recent 22 percent approval rating. Some of it, truth be told, is not necessarily their fault. Iraq makes people nervous -- there are some pretty awful images on television and reasons to worry about its future. The president isn't up for re-election, so who can pay the price for Americans' frustrations this year on Iraq or anything else? Congress.

But some of it is completely fair. Some Republicans in Congress have seemingly surrendered any sense of a conservative governing philosophy, supporting the taxation of windfall profits on gas companies and/or demonizing gas companies for making money. And the newfound tendency to bend over backwards to accommodate immigrant lawbreakers is a flawed strategy for vote-getting, because, in the end, Dems will always be more pro-amnesty than Republicans could ever muster.


One Washington Post/ABC poll found respondents trusting Democrats more than Republicans, "to do a better job handling corruption in Washington" (52 percent to 27 percent). And yet, when you talk to Republicans in Washington, you don't hear them worried enough about the state of their party's leadership and November prospects. Instead, you get the message that what they're really passionate about is the message the other side is just as bad or worse: "look, that guy just plead guilty to bribing a DEMOCRAT, see, they have a 'culture of corruption,'" too! But the look-at-him deflection doesn't work with teachers on the playground and it's no concrete plan to win over voters. If you're not A) being responsible and B) able to make a solid case that you've been responsible, November is going to hurt. And, right or wrong, some of your friends may not shed too many tears, hoping, that if all else fails, minoritizing you will be the wake-up call you needed.

There's still time before November, but not much. And if immigration and irresponsible spending on top of general grandstanding are any indication, "Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi" may be something we'll have to get used to. And every time I have to say it, I expect I'll blame the Republicans.