Why don’t they fight?
Last week at a town hall meeting with Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, the theme seemed to be one of frustration, including with the Republican Party. I wrote my column for the Waukesha Freeman (two quarters and its yours) on that very subject:
While the audience was politically right of center, judging from the applause at different times, their frustration with the Republican Party was clear.However, even that little bit may be beyond some of our current Republican office holders and officials. At the end of my column I mentioned the RNC Chairman Michael Steele/Rush Limbaugh debacle. Turns out that’s not the only Michael Steele goof. Byron York reported:
One of the first questions asked of the congressman: "Why don’t Republicans fight?" Sensenbrenner replied they are fighting but that effectively he and Kramer are "out of the legislating business." The legislative agendas are being set by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (a Democrat) and Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan (a Democrat).
Still, the congressman noted, House Republicans were successful in voting unanimously against what he called the "non-stimulus stimulus" bill.
Unfortunately elections have consequences, a theme on Saturday. Despite the frustrations of many in the room, there is little Republicans can do at the moment except to protest every step of the way toward massive increases in state and federal spending.
But some Republicans who were not particularly upset by Steele's references to Limbaugh were appalled when Steele, during the same program, sat quietly while CNN host D.L. Hughley said that last year's Republican National Convention "literally looked like Nazi Germany. It literally did." GOP insiders who saw the performance unanimously agreed that Steele was seriously, perhaps unforgivably, remiss in not challenging a television host who compared Republicans to Nazis.
Wisconsin GOP Chairman Reince Priebus (an early endorser of Steele for the RNC chairmanship) responded, "I think the criticism is stemming from those who like the way things have always been done. Well, that's not going to happen. Michael Steele promised wholesale change, and he's delivering it.”
I don’t think anyone in the room at the Sensenbrenner town hall meeting last Saturday wants the RNC to continue doing the same things, and I certainly don’t believe that of the 19 million Rush Limbaugh listeners. But sitting there nodding while someone calls your party a bunch of Nazis is not what they want either.
David Freddoso at National Review Online “The Corner” also lists five other occasions where Republicans just refused to stand up:
- Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio), speaking on Obama's proposal for health insurance, offered conciliatory words: "I think that having Senator Ted Kennedy involved in this process would help us get to a solution. That's what the American people want, they want solutions...I think if there's a way to provide every American with access to affordable, quality health insurance, we ought to find a way to get it done."
- On the omnibus, Boehner helpfully declares that he has the votes needed to sustain a presidential veto. He is daring the president to keep his promises on spending, but does anyone believe that President Obama is going to make nice and veto his own spending bill?
- After that, I spoke by telephone with New York State Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R), the Republican candidate favored to replace Kirsten Gillibrand in the U.S. House. He expressed clear disagreements with many of Obama's positions on both social and fiscal issues, but his comments on Obama himself and his performance were extremely kind: "I think he's trying hard, he's trying to do the best he can for the country. Some of it is good, and some of it is not so good." (Obama, who carried his Congressional District, is extremely popular there.)
- I had a few conversations about Sen. Sam Brownback (R, Kan.), a stalwart pro-life legislator who could not even pay lip service in opposition to Obama's appointment of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D). This despite her unusually deep connections, even for a pro-choice politician, to some of the most unsavory characters in the abortion industry. Along with Pat Roberts, his fellow Kansas Republican senator, Brownback released a statement anticipating healthy dialogue and discussion with her once she is in Obama's administration: "It's an honor for the State of Kansas to have an elected official appointed to the president's cabinet...We will be able to pick up the phone and talk directly with the secretary about issues that are important to Kansas."
- Again, Obama's omnibus spending bill, which is huge and contains several troubling policy changes. Among other things, it could yank two of Sasha and Malia Obama's classmates out of their good school and put them back into a terrible school, all because of Democratic obeisance to teachers' unions, which want to eliminate the District of Columbia's school choice program. It is barely shy of the votes it needs for passage, but not for lack of a few Republican votes.
All the base of the party wants is someone willing to fight. I have a hunch that this will come up often at tomorrow’s Defending the American Dream summit.