I can tell you with certainty something which should dismay the rank-and-file Republican voter: they do not have a clue why they lost the majority in 2006...
In response to another attendee's question about where the GOP would head, this official flatly confirmed rumors I have been hearing for months, that Congressional GOP Leadership believes that the only reason they lost the majority in both houses was due to an unpopular war (Iraq) and an unpopular President (W). The ONLY reason.
Oy. You really have to wonder what rock these guys are living under these days! Hanlon goes on to describe one particularly depressing exchange with the GOP official:
Hanlon: "...I hear from various sources that the House and Senate GOP Leadership have taken essentially no lessons away from the '06 and '08 elections, that they believe they've done nothing wrong and that the only reason they lost was due to the unpopularity of George W. Bush. That Iraq war certainly energized the Left and lost us independent votes, but I'd respectfully submit that does not explain the thing which troubles so many of us within our party, and that is our failure on spending. Don't you worry about how to re-energize your base on this topic?"
Elected Official: "I understand there has been a lot of griping from some Republicans out there about spending, but if you take away the Iraq War, which was funded by debt, we did a pretty good job on spending. And I will tell you this: every pollster out there will tell you that the only issue which moved voters was Iraq. You may be concerned with what you perceive to be our 'failings' on spending, but it was Iraq, and Iraq alone, which put us into the minority."
Hanlon: "Again with respect, Elected Official, then how do you explain the surging popularity of a fringe personality like Ron Paul? Don't you think that the bulk of his new-found support has to have come from frustrated Republicans who see in his fiscal message something that's missing from today's GOP?"
Elected Official: "Well, that might explain some of his support, sure, but..." and on again he went into the yada-yada of those polls he cited the first time.
I give props to Hanlon for trying to not-so-subtly tell the elected official why they are in the minority, but never underestimate how thick-headed some politicians can be. I especially like how the GOP official used the term "griping" to describe calls from fiscal conservatives for more responsible spending of GOP leaders.
"At least we don't spend as much as the Democrats," that was his message, which he actually stated at another point. Inspiring.
To read the rest of Hanlon's article, click here. I'm going to go bash my head against the wall a few times out of frustration, and follow it up with a good cry into my pillow.