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The Crucial Need For Focus

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The summer should be opening with an annual slow-down in D.C., but instead the already rushed pace of events is accelerating with the nomination of Judge Sotomayer to SCOTUS, the North Korean nuclear and missile tests, the continuing debate over Gitmo, the end game for the old GM and of course the rush to radically rewrite the rules of American medicine.

So many major debates are underway or about to open that conservatives have to very carefully manage their efforts so as not to get rolled in every single instance.

The field on which they are most likely to find allies across the aisle is in the battle to stop a “government option” for health care, which if passed will swallow the entire system of private insurance and lead to “single payer” with breathtaking speed.

The debates in which the public is most likely to side with them is on the necessity of maintaining Gitmo as an alternative to moving terrorists to the U.S., and on the need for more, not less, missile defense.

My column yesterday on the dangers of moving the Gitmo terrorists into the U.S. prison system states the obvious, and even senior Democrats have begun to desert President Obama on this issue. The GOP leadership will almost certainly keep up the pressure here.

They also need to underscore that President Obama’s proposed defense budget undercuts missile defense even as the crazy dictator of North Korea demonstrates an increasing ability to both detonate nuclear devices and launch longer ranger missiles. The Obama defense budget proposes to slash $1.2 billion from missile defense spending at a time or record spending and sharply increasing threats from rogue states with nuclear ambitions. The Administration says it is refocusing the missile defense effort on states like North Korea, but a 15% cut in overall spending on the technology cannot be covered over with a press release. Surely Joe Lieberman isn’t the only Democrat who knows a build-down in missile defense is crazy? The GOP should push to restore full funding for missile defense.

On health care, “history and good sense contradict the president,” writes Philip Klein in today’s Politico, and Klein is of course right. Voters know we cannot afford to hemorrhage trillions more on single-payer, Canadian-style health care which would lower the quality of care even as it contributes to the bankruptcy of the country. Conservatives have the high ground here and need only to begin and sustain the debate as soon as possible.

All of which is a long way of saying that the GOP’s priorities should be national security –Gitmo and missile defense– and the health care debate, not an unprincipled effort to bleed Judge Sotomayer. Her hearings will provide an excellent opportunity for Republican members of the Judiciary Committee to remind the public of the principles of originalism and of the limited nature of the judicial power, but voices on the right already calling for an all-out effort to mobilize opposition to the nominee without even a week of reading or a day of hearings are diverting crucial attention from debates which are clear, urgent, and already upon us.

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