Questions about the GOP aren’t going away

For my money, the No. 1 political question in 2010 is what, if anything, will come of the tea-party movement and the general popular angst that swelled over the past year. Can it be channeled — and if so, how will it be channeled, by whom, and will this be effective?

But question 1a would have to be whether the Republican Party can prove that it deserves to be the recipient of the tea-party momentum — for this momentum is still very much outside the GOP at the moment. Voters are still trying to figure out whether Republicans have learned anything from the elections of 2006 and 2008, or whether their stay in the wilderness is still too brief. The evidence to date is that independent voters have bailed on the Democrats. But do they trust Republicans to be a credible alternative?

These questions are getting louder now that we’re in the mid-term election year, and their sources ought to get the GOP’s attention.

In The Wall Street Journal today, former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan:

The question isn’t whether [Republicans will] win seats in the House and Senate this year, and the question isn’t even how many. The question is whether the party will be worthy of victory, whether it learned from its losses in 2006 and ‘08, whether it deserves leadership. Whether Republicans are a worthy alternative. Whether, in short, they are serious.


Republican political professionals in Washington assume a coming victory. They do not see that 2010 could be a catastrophic victory for them. If they seize back power without clear purpose, if they are not serious, if they do the lazy and cynical thing by just sitting back and letting the Democrats lose, three bad things will happen. They will contribute to the air of cynicism in which our citizens marinate. Their lack of seriousness will be discerned by the Republican base, whose enthusiasm and generosity will be blunted. And the Republicans themselves will be left unable to lead when their time comes, because operating cynically will allow the public to view them cynically, which will lessen the chance they will be able to do anything constructive.

At National Review Online yesterday, deputy managing editor Kevin Williamson:

Sure, the Republicans might win [in 2010] — but what makes us think they’re going to do any better this time around? But maybe the Republican leadership has cooked up some ingenious new ideas that I’ve somehow missed. So I trucked on over to John Boehner’s web site to see what the top Republican in Congress wants Joe Public to know about his agenda: I clicked on Issues, and I clicked on Border Security, the first item. Press release: June 26, 2008.

After reviewing the less-than-impressive material on Boehner’s site, Williamson concludes:

The point is that, while it is fun to watch [Barack] Obama, [Nancy] Pelosi, and [Harry] Reid shoot each other in the feet, Democratic stupidity and Republican stupidity are complementary conditions, not exclusive ones. The Republicans may be set to have a big year in 2010, but a victory based on smart, innovative thinking would be much more pleasing — and much better for the country — than one based on dumb luck, Obama’s narcissism, and Reid’s fecklessness.

There’s a lot of innovative thinking on the right…but there is little evidence that much or any of it is making its way to the Republican party as such. Conservatives, for instance, have much, much better ideas about health-care reform than do Democrats. A smart Republican leadership would be shouting those from the rooftops. But that’s not happening. Conservatives have good new ideas about energy, national security, and the economy, too, but you wouldn’t know it to hear Republican leaders talk….It’s easy to know what to be against right now, but the Republicans have yet to show that they’ve really learned from the shellacking of 2006–08.

Also yesterday, Cato Institute scholar (and UGA grad) Dan Mitchell took exception to the way some Republicans, and specifically former Bush adviser Karl Rove in a WSJ column this week, approach the Obama Democrats’ spending addiction:

I’m a big fan of condemning Obama’s big-government schemes, but Rove is the last person in the world who should be complaining about too much wasteful spending. After all, he was the top adviser to President Bush and the federal budget exploded during Bush’s eight years, climbing from $1.8 trillion to more than $3.5 trillion. More specifically, Rove was a leading proponent of the proposals that dramatically expanded the size and scope of the federal government, including the no-bureaucrat-left-behind education bill, the two corrupt farm bills, the two pork-filled transportation bills, and the grossly irresponsible new Medicare entitlement program.


All during the Bush years, I would complain to people in the Administration about wasteful spending. It didn’t matter whether I was talking to people at the Office of Management and Budget, the Council of Economic Advisers, the Treasury Department, or the National Economic Council. They almost always expressed sympathy for what I was saying, and then complained that the decisions were being made by the “White House political people.”

There aren’t many bigger champions of limited government and free markets than the WSJ, National Review and Cato. If some of their leading voices aren’t yet on board with the GOP of 2010, less than 10 months from Election Day, Republicans are going to have trouble come November.

And far more important, Americans are going to be left with one major party doing what they don’t want, and another one they don’t trust to be any better.

11 comments Add your comment

Logical Dude

January 8th, 2010
5:09 pm

Oh wait, hold on. . . “tea party movement and general popular angst”??? Did you not get the memo of the forces behind the tea parties and how there was huge money coming in from GOP contributors.

I mean, I don’t want the deficit to explode as much as the next person, but suddenly GOPers coming out and saying “wait wait! we’re spending too much!” after YEARS of spending like a drunken sailor. . . nope, too darn hypocritical for me.

Otherwise, look for solutions that are good for the COUNTRY and not what is good for the GOP. And hopefully Democrats will do what is good for the country also, and not just good for the Democrats.

Chris Broe

January 8th, 2010
5:10 pm

Peggy Noonan is hot.


January 8th, 2010
5:42 pm

No one seems to do what is good for anyone but themselves!I just want everyone to stop spening money.


January 8th, 2010
6:04 pm

Let’s face it, the only thing the GOP was good for was keeping spending down, and over the past decade have proved to be big spenders. So even if the Dems are spending big at least they are socially liberal. The only reason they won big prior to 06 is because they used same-sex marriage and terror in order to scare people into voting for them.. It certainly wasn’t because of their budgeting skills.


January 8th, 2010
6:16 pm

“There’s a lot of innovative thinking on the right…but there is little evidence that much or any of it is making its way to the Republican party as such. Conservatives, for instance, have much, much better ideas about health-care reform than do Democrats.” Really? What are they? I’m not just not hearing them from the leadership, I’m not hearing them from from think tanks or activists. The answer to every problem seems to be to cut taxes and regulation. To a point that’s fine, but it’s not the solution to every single problem in the world, tax cuts need to be matched to spending cuts and Republicans were leading the charge to save military programs the military said it didn’t need and lack of regulation is a big part of what got us into this recession. Until I hear something other than empty platitudes, why should I trust the GOP to run anything bigger than the local dog kennel?


January 8th, 2010
7:01 pm

“…what, if anything, will come of the tea-party movement…can it be channeled?”

What has to happen is a re-branding of the ‘tea party movement ‘ into the ‘anti-establishment movement’. It’s advertising and shallow to be sure, but absolutely neccesary. Nobody who stands on conservative principles wants to be refered to as a ‘tea-bagger’. Conservative bloggers should actively omit that word from their vocabularies and replace it with words like ‘concerned citizens’; or how about ‘responsible adults’. If MSM uses it, send an e-mail saying you find the phrase ‘offensive and un-american’. Let the left own that word so that every time they throw it out against conservatives it comes off the same way as a white guy using the N word.

Celebrate the dawn of A New Decade of Liberty with C4L! Join Congressman Ron Paul, C4L President John Tate, and several special guests in Atlanta, GA on January 15-17, 2010 as we continue working to reclaim our Republic and restore our Constitution


January 8th, 2010
7:31 pm

Nice try lefty AJC! After smearing, mocking, and deriding the Tea Party movement, and dismissing average (or is it “typical”?) Americans standing up for their rights and protesting the runaway taxation and extortion by the government out of hand, and slandering them in the most shockingly shameful ways, now the leftist government collusionist big media is suddenly aroused and engaged in the “tea-bagger” movement!

A note of advice to the neo-leftists and their media sowing mischief: 2010 election IS NOT about the GOP; it is only and all about the DemonicRAT party and getting its fangs out of the flesh and blood and might of this country before it tears it apart.


January 8th, 2010
8:23 pm

Sima, You have literally just proved Mr. Wingfield’s point, and if not his, then my perception of what he had intended lol.. You guys are too shaky to get anything done, breath take a step back and readjust, it will all be okay :) neo-leftiest hahaha

Clay Barham

January 8th, 2010
9:46 pm

It looks like the lamestream media is trying to poison the Tea Party supporters by convincing them the GOP is taking control of it, when in reality; it is a majority of republicans who are part of the Tea Party with little concern for what the GOP thinks one way or another. The GOP has let us down since Reagan, having rebelled against Reagan’s policies. Be the “go to” person Rush spoke of. See for the roots of what separates us.

Robert Littel

January 10th, 2010
10:47 am

The “Tea Party” movement is an effort being funded by, organized by and controlled by corporatist interests who want the stupid and ignorant to seize the spotlight, because they are so easy to control. The “teabaggers” never blame who is really at fault for their miserable situations, turning all their angst against the true victims in our society, the powerless poor. The real enemy is the clique of 4000 or so individuals who control 1/2 of all the wealth in this country and have created a cadre of wannabe ultra-wealthy and ignorant pawn dolts (teabaggers), to act as a buffer between themselves and the forces that would redress the horrible maldistribution of wealth, so much favored by those who have managed to arrange the entire society so that they were able to steal it in the first place. Wealth is power, and having 1/2 of all wealth in the hands of 4000 people, is too much power in too few hands, which should be obvious, even to the most ardent Capitalist conservative who believes in the intent and ideals of our founding fathers.


January 11th, 2010
12:57 pm

Honestly, I”m just about all out of faith in all of the politicians currently in power.

If Republicans indeed get the wins in 2010 and/or 2012, they will just continue to revel in the power that they have once again secured and move back to the middle.

We really need some new people, some new conservatives, to move onto the scene.