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The Collapse of the Congressional GOP?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

From the Washington Post’s coverage of the House and Senate maneuvers to undercut the president and the troops:

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) took to the Senate floor yesterday to implore his colleagues not to go through with a vote on any resolution of opposition, calling the effort “pernicious” and “very, very dangerous.”

House Minority Leader Boehner’s decision to break with the president yesterday, and the desperate attempt of John Warner and some of his Senate colleagues to split the difference between defeatist Democrats and round-heeled Republicans underscores that the GOP is now close to splitting on the war.

Parties do split, and the Congressional Republicans seem headed toward such a breakdown.  The Congressional Republicans are putting forward positions that were not part of the party’s agenda in the fall, and not part of the leadership elections that followed either.  They are positions far removed from the party’s core commitment to national security and an aggressive war against terror in Iraq and elsewhere. 

These resolutions have nothing to do with the party of Reagan, and everything to do with political opportunism that will long be remembered as a low point in the party’s fortunes.

At a minimum the RNC, the NRSC and the NRCC will be stunned to watch the money dry up, and the contempt that will be heaped on the defecting Republicans will be far greater than they imagine. 

You can contact House Minority Leader Boehner’s and Senate Minority Leader McConnell’s offices via the switchboard at 202-225-3121.  If the Republicans on the Hill cease to support the war, the troops, and the president, I will cease to support them, and I hope you do as well.

Victor Davis Hanson, on yesterday’s program, voiced the concern that many Americans, including the defecting Congressional Republicans, seem to have lost the will to persevere in the war:

I’m very worried, because in some sense, the jihadists are just a rag tag bunch of failed extremists. They don’t compare with the Wehrmacht, or they don’t compare with 7,000 nuclear weapons, but then you stop and say well, wait a minute. They did what none of those people did. They took out 3,000 Americans at the heart of American military and economic power in Washington and New York, and then you realize as you start thinking about it, this is a worldwide ideology that transcends countries, Indonesia, Philippines, Iran, all these places. And then more importantly, in the age of globalization, miniaturization, and nuclear proliferation, you really don’t need those assets that threatened the United States before. And then you add one other wrinkle to it. Never in the history of the United States, as I see it, have we had an elite who are more diffident and conflicted about “Is the United States different?” Is it exceptional? Is it better than the alternative? Is it worth defending? And at this sort of perfect storm, bin Laden and these people have come along and said “You know what? We can wage a psychological terrorist war against the people who don’t think that they really deserve to continue as a people in the way they had before.”

See also Jules Crittendon’s State of the Union speech that the president should deliver (HT: Instapundit.)  Key excerpts:

Didn’t you learn anything from Vietnam? Didn’t you see what happened when your predecessors in Congress, disgruntled and responding to public opinion polls just like you are, voted repeatedly to undermine an ally that was fighting for its survival and making headway against evil? There, I’ve said it again. Millions of people were murdered or imprisoned…

Now, you want to negotiate with two of the world’s primary sponsors of terrorism, who are directly involved in support of the terrorists who murder our soldiers. You want to make an arrangement by which we will exit Iraq, and leave it to them. To loot, to murder, to fight over, while the rest of the world’s evil regimes look on, see our weakness, and plot their own moves.

You can try that, with resolutions, by cutting spending for troops in the field, as you seek the short-term satisfaction of withdrawal. But I remain President of the United States, and as long as I am, I will be no lame duck in this fight.

I will engage evil directly where I find it, in Iraq and in Iran. With an aggressive and ruthless new strategy and a plan to build our army as we should have a long time ago, I will show the American people that we can fight and we can win. I expect that the American people, though misled by their press and many of their elected representatives, will see results and will get it. Because the American people are a people who in the end don’t give up, don’t stop fighting, refuse to lose, and will choose to win. I have faith in them.

The president, the polls say, is supported by less than 40% of the people.  That’s probably 85% of the GOP, however, and both numbers will grow as the focus on the Democrats’ fecklessness increases, and all the more rapidly if serious people join the president in discussing again the perils we face as a nation. 

The Republicans who cut and run on the war now –and make no mistake, a yes vote for the Warner resolution, just like support for Boehner’s “benchmarks” is a vote to cut and run– will not live down the vote in the eyes of the serious people.  It will not be forgotten that when the political going was toughest (and still far, far easier than the easiest day the troops ever have) some Republicans folded. Tax cuts, market solutions to health care, spending discipline etc. etc. –all are important.

But victory against the enemy is the overriding issue of our time.House and Senate members can be right on every other issue, but if get the war wrong, their “record” will be as disatrous as Baldwin’s and Chamberlain’s.


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