Turning Bush-McCain’s Lemon into Lemonade

President George W. Bush’s eight years of “compassionate conservatism” wasn’t conservative. It was big government Republicanism. John McCain was no conservative. Conservatives knew it. The ones who voted for him, like myself, did so only by holding their noses. As for Republicans in Congress, the leadership hasn’t pushed a conservative agenda since the 1994 Contract with America.

Or, how to make the best out of the current situation

By Chuck Muth

In a radio interview on Dave Berns’ “State of Nevada” program on KNPR out of Las Vegas yesterday, I said it was actually a great day for conservatives.  Not Republicans.  Conservatives.  To which my friend and political pundit Jon Ralston responded that I must be in denial and hung over from crying in my beer election night.  But I was, and am, dead serious.  Let me explain…

Without taking anything away from the impressive campaign that Barack Obama ran, the fact is voters didn’t reject conservatism on Tuesday.  They rejected the rejection of conservatism.  They rejected Republicans who claimed to be fiscal conservatives but governed as fiscal liberals.

President George W. Bush’s eight years of “compassionate conservatism” wasn’t conservative.  It was big government Republicanism.  John McCain was no conservative.  Conservatives knew it.  The ones who voted for him, like myself, did so only by holding their noses.  As for Republicans in Congress, the leadership hasn’t pushed a conservative agenda since the 1994 Contract with America.

All this became bitterly clear, even to the most self-deluded GOP partisans, when Bush, McCain and the Republican Party leadership in Congress embraced that $700 billion (and counting) Wall Street bailout just a few short weeks ago.

Voters, particularly conservatives, fired a shot across the bow of the SS GOP in 2006 by knocking them out of the majority in both the House and the Senate.  Republicans, naturally, didn’t learn a damned thing and kept doing the same ol’ things the same ol’ ways.  So voters this week decided to give them a beating they’d never forget.  And then some.

While Democrats scored phenomenal ballot box victories Tuesday, that was a rejection of GOP governing and campaign incompetence, not an embrace of full-scale socialism – even though Barack Obama is, unquestionably, a socialist. 

Remember, one of the most important aspects of the Obama campaign was the promise to CUT TAXES for 95 percent of the people.  Folks, that’s a conservative agenda.

His campaign also spent a ton of time and money telling people that Barack Obama would not take away our guns.  Folks, that’s a conservative agenda.

On the campaign trail and in debates, Obama said he’d pay for his new programs by cutting spending on old programs.  Folks, that’s a conservative agenda.

I even heard that at one point Obama’s website had a section claiming he was pro-life.  And he also came out, so to speak, as opposed to gay marriage.  Folks, that’s a conservative agenda.

Now, I don’t for a minute believe Barack Obama really believes this stuff…but that’s what he campaigned on.  And combined with GOP incompetence, he fooled plenty enough people to get elected.  It was the political version of Three-card Monte.  But once the rubes discover they’ve been conned, they’ll be open to electing Republicans again to the House and/or Senate in 2010, if…

IF.

If Republicans finally wake up and smell the coffee.  As Newt likes to say, real change requires real change.  Not tinkering around the edges.  REAL CHANGE.

That means that if Mitch McConnell is going to remain as Minority Leader in the Senate, he needs to at least bring Tom Coburn and/or Jim DeMint into leadership positions.  I’m sure a case is being made to promote John Ensign instead; however, you can’t overlook the fact that Ensign ran the National Republican Senatorial Committee this year and may end up losing even more seats than Elizabeth Dole lost two years ago when she ran the NRSC.  How does the party of merit justify rewarding such a colossal failure?

Under the circumstances, Senate Republicans ought to task the Nevada senator with a single mission for the next two years…

Taking out Harry Reid in 2010.

Kinda like tasking Dorothy with taking out the Wicked Witch of the West.  You do that, and you get your heart’s desire, Sen. Ensign.

Over in the House, Republicans took a severe beating in 2006.  But their leadership hadn’t been in place for a full term, so House members re-elected them last year.

No excuses this time around.  Boom, boom…out go the lights.  Nothing short of a wholesale change of the entire House leadership team is acceptable, starting with Minority Leader John Boehner.  Republicans simply can’t keep rewarding failure.  At least former Democrat Minority Leader Dick Gephardt realized that after two losing two successive elections in the 1990s it was time to step aside and give someone else a shot.

If House Republicans won’t change leaders – including, if not especially, Boehner – donors should snap their wallets shut and grassroots activists should sit on their hands until they come to their senses. They should support only Republicans who vote for wholesale leadership change.

Meanwhile, over at the Republican National Committee there’s only one sensible course of action.  When the RNC convenes for its Winter Meeting next January, they HAVE to elect Michael Steel as the party’s National Chairman.

Not because he’s black.

Because he’s the best, most qualified person for the job.

Being black, with a black hombre in the White House, is merely a bonus.

Steel is a former Maryland Republican Party chairman, so he knows how a party organization operates and will be able to relate to and work well with the other state chairmen.

He’s also a former lieutenant governor, so he knows how government works (or doesn’t work, as the case may be).

He’s also been a statewide candidate twice: won one and lost the other.  So he knows both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.  Oh, and he won as a Republican in the People’s Republic of Maryland…big time Democrat territory (61 percent for Obama).

Presently, he runs GOPAC – the GOP’s premier candidate recruitment and training organization. 

Plus, he’s an unapologetic fiscal and social conservative who can articulate the conservative message effectively and isn’t afraid of the press.

Oh, and Vice President-elect Joe Biden said he was clean.

Yes, real change requires real change.  And desperate times call for desperate measures.  These are desperate times for Republicans…and the nation.  Republicans, heal thyselves.  Or be prepared for yet another thrashing in 2010.

Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a non-profit public policy grassroots advocacy organization.  The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Citizen Outreach.  He may be reached at: chuck@citizenoutreach.com.

 

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