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The White Flag Republicans

Friday, February 16, 2007  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Today’s vote in the House will be significant only for the light it will cast on the Republicans. We know the Democrats are committed to defeat in Iraq, and Congressman Murtha is the gift of clarity that keeps giving.

But we will also get the outlines of the extent of the White Flag Republicans, and while not all of them will draw the same level of ire as term-limit pledge breaking “Lawnboy” Ric “It Runs Like A Deere” Keller, the WFRs will not escape that designation even if the war goes well and Iraq stabilizes. At a crucial moment, they bolted.

They are leaving behind a House GOP badly scarred. I doubt very much if the message isn’t getting through or the NRC or the NRCC. The latter will have to radically restructure if it is to get grassroots appeal back. I won’t be giving to the NRCC because it will be supporting WFRs.

The best NRCC Chairman Tom Cole could do now is get busy identifying the 2008 challengers to defeatist Democrats. The lassitude displayed thus far is very troubling. There is great passion among the victory voters, but they cannot put it to any use because the GOP has not given them anything to fight for. The sudden growth of the Victory Caucus hints at this desire to engage, and all that energy could be turned towards electing serious candidates, preferably experienced veterans familiar with the stakes and especially with Iraq and Afghanistan and the enemy, but the House GOP leadership seems indifferent to the base, and glued to a political calendar that was used in the era before new media or the war arrived. Many have observed that the left is far ahead in the organizational understanding of politics on the web, and rarely has that been as obvious as the past three weeks. Obvious, but unacted on.

I had assumed that after the November elections the GOP on the Hill would hear what everyone was saying to them. But it turns out they got the slogans down, but internalized nothing of the need to engage in a completely different approach to the debates ahead. They are almost completely powerless in the House, and thus are only a rhetorical force. They have nothing but arguments to make to the public, but they are getting rolled in debate after debate because there is no party position that hasn’t been undercut by backbenchers, and there is not anything approaching a communications strategy.

“Hapless” is the word that comes to mind. The congressional representatives of the Party of Lincoln and the Party of Reagan have never been collectively less committed to victory and less able to communicate than today.

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