October 04, 2006

You Can't Win A Fight By Not Fighting

The Washington Times posts an article this morning, "Conservatives worry scandal will hit 'value voter' turnout". Interesting that the headline isn't Republicans are worried, although I'm sure they are. Here's the thing. If Conservatives are concerned that this will be the case, they ought not be making the foolish suggestion that Speaker Hastert resign.

RealClearPolitics.com has an excellent commentary this morning as to why an editorial from that very paper making just that suggestion is pointless and counter-productive. The author, Peter Mulhern who is also a contributor to the blog "The American Thinker" where the piece is also posted, puts it this way:

It would be pointless because Republicans can't mitigate whatever political damage there is going to be from the Foley scandal by jettisoning Hastert and company. The damage is done and it has nothing to do with the Speaker. Political junkies may think that the Foley scandal hurts because it undermines public trust in the House leadership, but that's not the source of the pain. The number of voters who know or care about the House leadership is infinitesimally small.

Democrats didn't keep Mark Foley's sins on ice and serve them up shortly before an election to make Dennis Hastert look negligent. They did it to drive a wedge between the GOP and its evangelical supporters by publicizing the fact that the Republican leadership in Congress gave the benefit of a substantial doubt to a known homosexual.

The tactical calculation behind the Foley scandal is the same as the calculation that drove both John Kerry and John Edwards to babble on about Mary Cheney's sexual orientation in nationally televised debates. Democrats believe that they can suppress the evangelical vote by suggesting that the GOP is too gay friendly and they aren't about to let mere scruples stand in their way. Kerry's lesbian gambit failed because the targeted voters were not the troglodyte simpletons of the Democrats' imagination. They largely recognized and resented the condescension motivating the attack, and affirmed their respect for tender love within a family.

Maybe the Democrats are right about evangelicals this time and maybe they aren't. Either way, replacing the Speaker now would be beside the point. It would also be devastating to the Republican Party.

Denny Hastert has been a relatively quiet Speaker of the House. That's been a good thing, in my opinion. When you have a controversial speaker, you create a target for the opposition. Hastert has been a steady steward, but many Conservatives don't particularly care for him. He hasn't reigned in spending sufficiently. He hasn't paid enough attention to many of the issues that drive them. It's precisely because Hastert hasn't been a lighting rod for Conservatives that many of them think nothing of using this situation with Mark Foley as an excuse to throw him over the side.

Mulhern continues:

In politics you never win by losing. Dumping Hastert and the rest of the leadership team would be a loss. His departure would empower Democrats and dispirit Republicans. It would underscore the Republican's principal political liability, which is that many of their own supporters see them as spineless weenies.

Caving in to groundless and hysterical criticism is the quintessence of spinelessness. Republicans have made a habit of it.

They were too timid to change the rule that required Tom Delay to resign his leadership post when the rube who passes for a prosecutor in Travis County, Texas trumped up an indictment against him. The Bush administration couldn't stand and fight when it came under fire for including sixteen words in a State of the Union Address, every one of which was true. It never even tried to defend itself when Democrats and the media were spewing nonsense about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina for the purpose of blaming President Bush for everything that may have gone wrong in New Orleans. One could, as Zell Miller once said, "go on and on and on."

Republicans can't afford to crumble yet again just five weeks before an election. They can't win a fight without fighting and it's better to start late than never.

It's time to fight. Fight to win. As I said yesterday, losing achieves nothing. Losing is for losers. We have a deadly enemy to fight, judges to confirm and tax policies to protect to keep our economy moving forward. Republicans in general - and Conservatives in particular - should think long and hard about what we really have to lose.

Posted by: Gary at 09:15 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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1 I agree, though I think Hastert is a moron, and have ever since he howled about the FBI search of Jefferson's office. And though I think he should stand his ground (unless there's something we don't yet know), I wouldn't be at all upset if he stepped down.

Posted by: rightwingprof at October 04, 2006 12:12 PM (hj1Wx)

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