Having lost both houses of Congress and the White House in two straight elections, Republicans are going through an identity crisis, its leaders holding town hall meetings to "listen" to the people.
"What should we focus on? Should we drop the social issues? How do we get the young people back?"
Such angst and soul-searching is not the mark of the leader, but the mark of a man suffering from doubt and despair.
Why is the party in trouble? Simple. Dubya got a hold of the keys, got high on neocon hooch, and crashed and rolled the family SUV.
He launched an unnecessary war against a country that had not attacked us. With his utopian No Child Left Behind scheme and his Medicare drug plan, he did his passable imitation of LBJ, and blew a hole in the budget.
Touting globalism, he presided over the loss of one in every four U.S. manufacturing jobs and ran up $5 trillion in trade deficits. He refused to defend the Mexican border against an invasion, then pushed an amnesty for the invaders.
This was no Reaganite. This was the neocons' apprentice.
How does the party reconnect with Middle America? How does it win back the Reagan Democrats who went home disgusted?
Become again the party of Frank Ricci.
And who is Frank Ricci?
He is a fireman in New Haven, Conn., with 11 years in the department, who suffers from dyslexia, but nonetheless has pursued his dream of becoming a lieutenant and a captain.
Six months before the promotion test, Ricci quit his second job. He bought $1,000 worth of the textbooks he was told to study, had a friend read them onto tapes to compensate for his dyslexia, studied every spare hour he got, and sat for the test, to compete for one of eight lieutenant slots open.
Frank made it. Frank Ricci came in sixth.
It was after the results of the test were made known that the problems arose. For, of the officers who had made the cut, all were white, except for one Latino.
Concluding the test results would, if used by the department, have an "adverse impact" on the black community, New Haven tossed out the results and called for new exams to ensure a "fair" outcome.
Thus, because he is a white man whose people came from Italy, Frank Ricci is to be denied a promotion he worked for and won, and be robbed of his American dream by the liberal bigots who run New Haven.
Had Frank Ricci and half of the other top performers been black, all would be on their way to becoming lieutenants and captains.
What is being done to Frank Ricci is exactly what was done to black folks for decades. Great black ballplayers who might have become legends like DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig never got the chance because they were black. Black students were denied admission to prep schools, colleges and military academies because of their color.
Now, what was done to them is being done to white folks. And it is just as wrong as it was then.
In 21st century America, race discrimination endures.
All we have done is switch the color of the victims with the color of the beneficiaries. Today it is white males applying for jobs and promotions as cops, firemen, government workers, who are held back because their color does not comport with the desired "diversity."
What New Haven has done to Frank Ricci is like the U.S. Olympic Committee throwing out all the trial heat results in the 100- and 200-meter races because not a single white runner qualified.
New Haven contends the "disparate impact" of the test hurts the black community, proving discrimination. But does the relative absence of blacks in the National Hockey League prove discrimination?
If the Republican Party wants a future, it will become again the party that stands on the principle that "No discrimination means no discrimination," that stands with the victims of state bigotry, and that stands up to hypocrites like the Jim Crow liberals of New Haven.
Affirmative action began as a mandate to cast a wider net and ensure all had an equal shot. It has become a mighty engine of state injustice that seeks to remedy the consequences of past racial sins and crimes, by committing new ones.
In Michigan, Washington and California, none of them red states, majorities have voted to abolish affirmative action. Only Colorado failed in a dead heat last fall. A Republican drive to write into federal law an end to all race and gender preferences, as well as to all race and gender discrimination, is a cause whose time has come.
This is a winning issue for the GOP, for it is rooted in principle and comports with what is written on the human heart. Down deep, even liberals know that what is being done to Frank Ricci is not right.