Re: White House to Left: ‘We Wanted a Fight’

by Jonah Goldberg

Bob: Re Biden’s selling-mission, and sticking on this Bush 41 analogy, here’s an excerpt from a Michael Oreskes article in the July 13, 1990, NYT:

QUAYLE DEFENDS BUSH’S TAX STAND

Vice President Dan Quayle sought to reassure a nervous group of Republican leaders today that President Bush did not simply kick away one of their best campaign issues when he acknowledged last month that tax increases would be needed to reduce the Federal budget deficit.

Mr. Quayle, raising the issue that clearly most worries those gathered here for the summer meeting of the Republican National Committee, said clear differences on taxes remained between Democrats and Republicans even after Mr. Bush’s reversal.

’’The reaction of some Democrats to the President’s June 26 announcement was a useful reminder of this fundamental difference between our two parties,’’ Mr. Quayle said in a luncheon speech on the second day of the committee’s three-day meeting. ‘’The President reluctantly announced that he would consider tax revenue increases to get the negotiations going -as one of six elements of a budget deal. But many Democrats made it clear that their first and only priority was to raise taxes.’’
 
A Defensive Position

Mr. Quayle’s speech here was part of an effort by the White House and the Republican National Committee to dig out of the uncomfortable, and somewhat unaccustomed, defensive position the party finds itself in as the fall campaigns draw near.

’’This meeting is about one thing: offense,’’ Ed Rogers, a top White House political operative, said of the Republican gathering.

The Republicans have felt on the defensive on issues as diverse as the savings and loan scandal and abortion. But perhaps most threatening of all is the issue of taxes, their stated resistance to which has been a central element of their success in the last three Presidential races.
 
Assailing the President

Even as the committee was meeting here today, a number of conservatives were holding a news conference in Washington to attack Mr. Bush on several fronts, including his softened stand against taxes.

The critics, led by L. Brent Bozell 3d of the Conservative Victory Committee, released a letter they had sent to Lee Atwater, the Republican national chairman, in which they said, ‘’If the Republican Party compromises the basic tenets of the 1988 platform, it will spell disaster for its candidates in the upcoming Congressional elections.’’

In Chicago, Peggy Noonan, the former Reagan speechwriter who coined Mr. Bush’s ‘’read my lips’’ 1988 campaign promise to resist new taxes, seemed to sum up the delegates’ feelings when she told them, ‘’I truly believe we must not lose the tax issue.’’