The Corner

Yes! Coal For the Orphans!

Fred Barnes on the GOP making amends:

In the good old days when Republicans ruled Congress, their instructions for President Bush were: no vetoes, especially of spending bills. Republican leaders–House speaker Denny Hastert, for one–made it clear a Bush veto would cause ill will on Capitol Hill. So over a six-year period the president vetoed exactly one bill. And it was a bipartisan bid to increase funding for embryonic stem cell research. Meanwhile, spending increased, the number of pork barrel expenditures known as earmarks skyrocketed, and Republicans lost their reputation as skinflints. “We lost our brand,” says a Republican official.

They want it back. And they are willing to be pilloried by Democrats as pitiless, cruel, unfeeling, callous, uncaring, coldhearted, and Scrooge-like to get it. That’s how important it is to Republicans to be seen again as politicians who can be counted on to restrain or, better yet, slash government spending, even in the case of popular programs.

“It would be refreshing to be accused of being heartless and frugal, rather than getting in a bidding war on spending with the Democrats like we have lately,” says Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee. Ryan is one of the architects of the strategy to restore the image of Republicans as true fiscal conservatives.

Instead of signing spending bills, Republicans now want Bush to veto them with abandon….

 Me:  I’ve been thinking for a while that the Congressional GOP should own their mistakes and campaign in ‘08 (starting right now) on the platform of “We Learned Our Lesson.” It would inoculate them, somewhat, from having to defend their record and it would allow them to seem less hypocritical when pointing out the manifest failures of the current Democratic Congress. They would be freed up to discuss Republican and Conservative principles merely by virtue of admitting they betrayed them and now want a second chance. Maybe this wouldn’t focus group well. It’s a good thing I don’t care about focus groups. 

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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