If you were listening to the second hour of my program today, you may have detected some anger in my voice when Congressman John Campbell told us all that the GOP House members would gather in D.C. next week to elect new leadership.
John is a good friend, and my anger was not directed at him, but at the arrogance of a defeated leadership doing a bum’s rush to prevent the very sort of careful introspection and analysis that the loss of the majority should automatically trigger.
It is simply astonishing that a party in desperate need of its base’s time, talent and treasure over the next two years would hustle back to home base to consult each other on who should lead the comeback.
In no other company or organization would a leadership change take place on such a schedule and with so little input from key constituencies.
At a minimum the GOP needs to give its troops and espeically its donors the opportunity to weigh in, and to allow for candidates to declare. There are many new members as well –and they managed to win last night. They need to be consulted, as does the RNC, but most especially acrivists and senior party operatives. The House doesn’t exist as an island independent from the party, but the rush to engineer a succession communicates an unwillingness to recognize the significance of the set-back yesterday.
N.Z. Bear is attempting to organize an effort to interview would-be Minority Leaders, and that is a very good thing and the GOP House leadership should cooperate with the effort and welcome it. I’d also like to see would be leaders sit down with Tim Russert, Bill O’Reilly and assorted other talking heads to see how they fare. I’d like to interview them for an hour each as well.The new Minority Leader will be the face of the House GOP for the next two very crucial years. If the party does not regain the majority in 2008, it is going to be uphill sledding. That means there is a huge need for a Minority Leader with great skill at candidate recruitment, fundraising, strategy and message delivery.
It probably means a new and younger face as well. Connections to the scandals that dragged the party down should be a disqualifier.
This is not a difficult thing to see or understand. The sprint to solidify the title of Minority Leader signals a great likelihood that the winner will get to keep it for a long time.
Slow down. Take in the commentary. Consult with your friends outside of the Congress. Let would be candidates think it through. Let the new members at least have the chance to meet with their colleagues.
Act, in other words, like a party confident of its beliefs and committed to their competent communication as the way to return to the majority.