by Rod D. Martin
November 17, 2006
Today, House Republicans thumpingly defeated the reform candidates for every leadership position in their caucus. John Boehner wiped up the floor with Mike Pence in the contest for Minority Leader with a margin of 168-27. Roy Blunt, considered by many to be more vulnerable (and a greater liability) than Boehner, crushed opponent John Shaddegg 137-57; while Adam Putnam, the most liberal in a three way race with Jack Kingston and Marsha Blackburn, won the third-ranking Republican Conference chairmanship.
The truth remains that on a voting-record basis, this is not a bad team. The problem is that voting record just isn’t the issue. First, this is the team that brought us the era of earmarks which swelled federal expenditures and shrank the Republican delegation on Nov. 7th. Second — and in some ways more importantly — the re-election of this gang greatly undercuts everyone’s ability to claim that electing a new Republican majority in two years would provide a different and better result.
That possibility isn’t beyond the pale by any means. Everyone involved promises serious reform, both a return to fiscal conservatism and a more general renewal of conservative principle. They probably mean it too: they know better than anyone how catastrophic their Election Day loss truly was.
But the confidence issue just won’t go away. This was the time for a House-cleaning. We didn’t get it. And barring some highly-visible Damascus Road experience on Boehner and Blunt’s part, that’s going to be very hard to explain.
For our part, we don’t intend to explain it: we mean to elect a whole host of new conservative members to replace the mostly-RINOs who just lost on the 7th. Putting some added conservative muscle on the GOP skeleton will change a lot very fast, as everyone learned in 1994 and as Nancy Pelosi is learning to her pain.
MoveOn has done wonders for a Democratic left-wing that deserves more say in its own party (and the fact that getting them that say has harmed them immeasurably in the broader public bothers us not a bit). It’s time we did the same for Republicans. America’s conservative majority is intact and growing. A truly conservative Republican leadership could lead America for generations, and usher in an era of true reform, security and unparalleled prosperity.