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Time for a Culling of the Caucus?

Friday, November 11, 2005  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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Congressman David Reichert. Congressman Charles Bass. Congressman Michael Castle. Congressman Sherwood Boehlert.

All four are quoted in today’s accounts of yesterday’s House meltdown on the budget and ANWR exploration. I won’t presume that any member who is alleged to have been for stripping ANWR exploration from the budget bill actually was on the side of energy dependence of Middle Eastern and Hug Chavez, but their names will eventually come out. Opposition to ANWR exploration is a fundamentally disqualifying position for a party that

With the budget deficit at 2.4% of GDP, getting a budget vote wrong is not the occasion for denunciation.

But getting ANWR wrong is.

ANWR is a national security issue. In a time of war, the actual production from ANWR is not as important as taking the steps necessary to get the oil to a position where it would be available to us if we were to need it because of supply disruption or, worse, a catastrophic attack on our facilities for importing oil.

Stand-by production potential is as necessary to the economic health and defense capability of the United States at least as important to the national security as any other element in hour national defense. It is just not obviously so. Congressmen are supposed to have the intellect to get beyond the obvious.

If the effort to open ANWR fails, the Republican Congressmen who deserted the GOP on this issue don’t deserve a return ticket back to the Congress. Freshman Rep. David Reichert appears to be the most vulnerable of those who are on record as opposing ANWR exploration. Who’s his Democratic opponent?

Sad but true: If ANWR doesn’t get out of the Congress, the GOP will have to do some housecleaning. When it comes to issues, there’s national security and there’s judges. Everything else is a distant third. These are the defining issues of our time, and being serious about national security and the judiciary defines the GOP.

There’s got to be an edge to the big tent.

I want to anticipate one thing: If ANWR exploration does make it out of the Congress, I don’t care if some GOPers voted against it. Realists understand the concept of a “free vote,” and don’t resent the party leadership managing to a majority.

But if it fails, it would be a very good thing to see some ANWR opponents tossed out in the primaries of ’06, or even the general.

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