The Corner

Know Their Names, GOP Division

Back during his half-hearted run for the presidency, John McCain was always threatening that we would “know the names” of senators who requested earmarks — “earmarks” apparently being the senator from Keating’s gold standard of corruption — but, amazingly, that issue failed to galvanize the public. Something that ought to energize the conservative base of the GOP, however, are the names of the twelve senators who voted for the Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Government’s latest round of spending boosts, tax hikes, and illusory spending cuts, passed as usual in the name of “we’ll get ’em next time.” Let’s call the roll:

Republicans joining Democrats to invoke cloture include Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Roy Blunt (Mo.), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Susan Collins (Maine), Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Orrin Hatch (Utah), John Hoeven (N.D.), Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), John McCain (Ariz.),  Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and Rob Portman (Ohio).

The two-year deal will ease the mandatory spending caps (sequester) imposed by Congress in 2011. This will allow a $63 billion increase in the discretionary budget, but it does nothing to reform entitlement programs, which are the main drivers of growing deficits and debt, The Heritage Foundation reported.

The deal also raises certain “fees,” or taxes.

Consider the names above: Collins, Hatch, McCain, Murkowski lead the league in double-crossing their conservative supporters, with Flake and Portman rising rapidly through the ranks. (Senator Johnson is the only real surprise on this list.) Coming on the heels of John Boehner’s scourging of the Tea Party – would that he showed even a scintilla of such passion when dealing with the Democrats — this latest installment of the Empire Strikes Back should serve to stiffen the resolve of conservatives to capture the levers of the Republican party — even if it takes a few (more) years in the electoral wilderness. It took the radical Democrats from 1972, when Nixon clobbered McGovern, to 1992, when Clinton took advantage of early Bush Fatigue, to fully effect control, and then another eight years (after the GOP handed them the gift of Bush Fatigue II) to get underway the “fundamental transformation” of the country that they’d been drawing up on student-lounge blackboards for 40 years.

Unlike the Alinsky Democrats, though, the Tea Party is unorganized, unresponsive, severely lacking in tactical skills, and incapable of effective messaging, in part because it’s burdened with a conscience, even though some idiot has handily provided them with a roadmap to victory. Allow me to quote Rule No. 8: Get Better Officers – 

Look, I have to admit there’s nothing wrong with either the conservative or Republican base.  Frankly, you guys terrify us, you and your damn fascist Tea Parties.  Is there anything more frightening than seas of grandmothers waving American flags and singing “patriotic” songs?  I don’t think so.  But the bozos driving your clown car need a complete upgrading in order to meet the new challenges of the 21st century, and one that current crop of “leaders” is simply not up to.  You morons need smart, ruthless and savvy leadership, younger than your basic World War II veteran – hell, we’ve run a self-confessed draft dodger and a guy who can’t even produce a valid passport against you – not that there’s anything wrong with that! – and you got beat both times.  If you’re going to bring fruit salad and scrambled eggs to a knife fight, you might as well make sure your fighters are under 50 and are actually, you know, armed and ready to party.

You can’t afford colorless Speakers of the House, or go-along, get-along collaborationists like most of your Senators.  You need officers who are going to inspire the troops, not dispirit them, commanders who’ve earned the love of their followers precisely by not crossing the aisle, instead preferring to stand on principle.  These brave men and women are going to have to step out of the ranks and step up and when they are attacked by our side – as they surely will be – you must defend them.  Nobody wants to lead troops into battle and , halfway across the killings fields, find out he or she is all alone. . . .

After so many dreadful years in the post-FDR electoral wilderness, congressional Republicans more resemble battered wives than all-American men.  They want to cover their heads and assume the fetal position in the hopes we’ll stop pounding on them.  But, as the reaction to Sarah Palin – on both sides — demonstrated, the base is ready to follow its leaders into battle, provided the leaders show that they really want to fight… If there’s one lesson you need to learn from the debacle of 2008, it’s this: never, ever, ever again nominate a man who tells you he’d rather lose honorably than punch our lights out.

Plus ça change, and all that.


Michael Walsh — Mr. Walsh is the author of the novels Hostile Intent and Early Warning and, writing as frequent NRO contributor David Kahane, Rules for Radical Conservatives.