Republican leadership in the next (110th) Congress

Posted: Nov 01, 2006 12:01 AM
Republican leadership in the next (110th) Congress

I used to love this time of year. First, it was October, my birth month. Second, the temperature began to drop enough that it was comfortable to be outside wearing a jacket or sweater. Third, the elections were coming soon. In the old days Fritz Rench and I tried to encourage many Presidential-year voters to vote in the non-Presidential elections. It was fun and exciting and we won many times. Later, while running a political action committee, I had a nationwide field team which would report from local communities. Now I am excited no more. Oh, I still love October and my grandchildren are wonderful on my birthday but the elections interest me less. It is not because there are negative ads. People who are critical of negative advertising are unfamiliar with our history. Negative ads and vicious cartoons have existed from the founding of the Republic.

I understand well what is at stake in the current election. What is the problem then?

I think it is disappointment with the 109th Congress. On election night in 2004 when Republicans defeated the Majority Leader of the Senate and picked up four seats I was really excited. I had been tracking Jim Bunning (R-KY) all evening and was thrilled when he won. At last, I thought, we will be able to do big things. Karl Rove spoke to the Council for National Policy and told how every single objective which the President had announced before the election was achieved.

Then Harry M. Reid (D-NV), the Minority Leader of the Senate, began to dictate terms. One would have thought the Democrats had won the election. This happened all through the session. It was terribly disappointing. The Democrats had a nasty game plan. It involved blocking President George W. Bush from drilling for domestic supplies of oil. It meant short-changing our troops. It meant sending our brave men and women mixed signals. It even meant trying to restrict the President from trying to protect the nation by monitoring suspicious telephone calls.

It is difficult to get people to the polls although Rove argues that the intensity factor is slightly higher among Republicans than Democrats. If he is correct this election could look very different than the liberal media portrayal. If that is the case then we ought to start over in the 110th Congress. Senate Majority Leader William H. (Bill) Frist, M.D. (R-TN) will have retired voluntarily. Senator A. Mitchell (Mitch) McConnell, Jr. (R-KY), the current Majority Whip, is thought to be a sure successor. Should Republicans be defeated, as many believe they will be, there might be a revolt among Senators and someone else may run for Minority Leader. If Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) returns, he would like to be in a leadership position. Some in the Santorum camp believe this would be a great platform from which he could run for President. My advice would be just the opposite. First, the last time a Senator was elected President was 46 years ago. I pray that Santorum wins reelection. Either way, the new leadership in the Senate may be more aggressive.

J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) has served as Speaker of the House of Representatives longer than any Republican in history. Unfortunately, Hastert has become tangled in the Mark Foley (R-FL) scandal. I believe Hastert when he says he knew nothing of lewd e-mails between Foley and a male Congressional page until the matter broke on ABC News. I am afraid that the public does not believe him. My wife, who over the years has proved to be a perfect barometer of public opinion, does not believe Hastert and feels he should step down. She feels he knew all was not well and did nothing about it. If Karl Rove is correct and Republicans retain control of the House by a slim margin the House should have a new Speaker. I am sorry to say that because I like Hastert and certainly he has been honest with me over the years. If Democrats were to take the House there would be no Republican Speaker's position. That would leave Representative John A. Boehner (R-OH) as Minority Leader. I already know of at least one potential challenger to Boehner should Democrats win by a wide margin. Representative Roy Blunt (R-MO) ought to keep his position as Majority or Minority Whip but I am told he may face challengers as well.

I need to count my blessings. After all, this is still a relatively free country. We, the voters, will determine the outcome of the election. The future is up to us. Let us pray that it is the right kind of future.