On Monday, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and I discussed her veto of a bill expanding the reach of religious liberty protections. The transcript is here. It was a pointed, sharp but very polite exchange between two people who simply disagree deeply on a decision.
Powerline’s John Hinderaker and I disagree on the immigration reform effort. I think it could possibly be made to work and the current bill amended to something that helps the country. John doesn’t see that happening and opposes the bill’s progress. If the amendments guarantee a long, high fence being built, I can support the bill (but the fence is not part of the leak of details to Jen Rubin, which is worrisome but it may yet be in the Cornyn package.) If there are no serious fencing provisions, I think the bill should be rejected by the Senate and killed in the House. All other “border security” provisions and guarantees are just window dressing because they can be turned off or cut without the public noticing. You cannot turn off a fence.
Some Republicans are upset with New Jersey Governor’s Chris Christie’s decision to hold an October special election to fill the seat left open by the death of Frank Lautenberg. Others like Guy Benson think it was the smart move.
Point is, all of these are important, tough issues on which good conservatives can and do disagree.
They contrast, sharply, with President Obama’s abuse of his powers with such things as appointments to the NLRB and his stonewalling on Benghazi and the IRS. Through the long summer ahead, the D.C. GOP has to stay focused on those issues that unite their supporters even as they work through those that will inevitably divide their number.
That means at least a hearing a week on the variety of scandals that are mounting on every side of the president, even as the immigration bill –the biggest potential source of intra-party division– proceeds. It means as well that the GOP leadership keep showing up on air and in print, arguing their case and meeting with their critics. In this regard Marco Rubio and Rand Paul have really set the example of willingness to wade into real debates and engage in the questions-and-answers that matter.
The example of how to do that comes from the party’s greatest leader ever, Lincoln, and Rich Lowry has a wonderful new book out, Lincoln Unbound, on how the greatest president threw himself into the biggest arguments of his day. Rich will be my guest today, but every one who thinks to lead the party Lincoln brought to national prominence should read Lowry’s book and aim to follow Lincoln’s example as a summer of huge debates open.