View 760 Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The President has announced his new immigration ‘reform’ wishes. The details are not important because this is part of the new strategy from the White House. The notion of a new White House strategy has been commented on by many, but perhaps the most eloquent and persuasive statement is by Peggy Noonan, long a conservative commentator but seldom accused of extremism.

Noonan: Lessons Conservatives Need to Learn

Obama is a formidable foe. He means to change the country and crush the GOP.

The senators weren’t organized or focused, they didn’t coordinate questions, follow up, have any coherent or discernible strategy. The only senator who really tried to bore in was Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who asked a pointed question that was never answered: If you wanted to find out what happened when the consulate was attacked, why didn’t you pick up the phone the next day and call those who’d been there? John McCain made a spirited, scattered speech—really, it was just like him—that couldn’t find the energy to end in serious questions.

Some conservatives are saying Mrs. Clinton looked unhinged, angry. In their dreams. She came across as human and indignant, and emerged untouched. What air there was in the Benghazi balloon leaked out. Someday we’ll find out what happened when somebody good writes a book.

All this looked like another example of the mindless personal entrepreneurialism of the Republicans on the Hill: They’re all in business for themselves. They make their speech, ask their question, and it’s not connected to anyone else’s speech or question. They aren’t part of something that moves and makes progress.

Minority parties can’t act like this, in such a slobby, un-unified way.

Hill Republicans continue not to understand that they are the face of the party when the cameras are trained on Washington. They don’t understand how they look, which is like ants on a sugar cube.


She has more to say, but that’s the essence. The Republican Establishment can’t handle this all out assault on the opposition. Either the Republicans get their act together and become a legitimate opposition party or they are finished. The Establishment Republicans aren’t accustomed to this. During their forty years of wandering in the wildness they became something else, an Established Permanent Minority Party, existing in large part on largess from the Democrats, sometimes winning the Presidency – first to Nixon, then to Reagan, finally to Bush – but never losing the permanent minority attitude. They resented Newt Gingrich and his “we can win” attitude. The Establishment Republicans did what they always did, made accommodations and compromises with the Democrats. Mr. Bush rooted every Reagan person of note from the White House, showing what the Establishment Republicans really thought of him and his populism. Then, despite having a Republican President elected in large part because he made the flat campaign statement “Read my lips. No new taxes,” the Establishment cooperated with the Democrats to raise taxes, and President Bush went along with that. The result was that George Bush, who after the First Gulf War had a popularity of over 80%, managed to squander all that and fail of reelection, losing to the governor of Arkansas who already had an interesting personal background. They failed. They lost to – well, to a country bumpkin widely reputed to have bimbo issues. They lost to – to Clinton?

One reason they lost was that Mr. Clinton was obviously a master politician who had learned well from Roosevelt. But in the resulting shock reaction they did essentially nothing, remained disorganized, and – and along came Newt with his Contract with America who swept the mid-term election giving the Republicans a majority in the House for the first time in decades. But the Establishment wasn’t finished yet. They insisted on running one of their own against Clinton. Bob Dole, probably the only major Republican that Clinton could beat. Managed to lose the election – but the Republicans retained the House and Newt remained Speaker.

And then followed an interesting era. Clinton, a master politician, and Gingrich, a committed intellectual conservative and political realist, managed to halt the growth of government and balance the budget.

That era didn’t last because of Mr. Gingrich’s personal failures. Mr. Clinton was able to weather his personal indiscretion storms. Newt was ashamed of himself and resigned. The result was the return of the Establishment Republicans with a vengeance. They came back – and went mad. We got “big government conservatism” as if that were even possible, much less desirable. They threw away all the lessons of the Reagan victory and the Contract with America, and descended in their wrath on the Reagan and Gingrich Republicans. And while they have had no choice but to make some compromises with the Tea Party Republicans, the Establishment clearly would rather have the respect of the Democrat leadership and media than lose its power.

Now those are generalizations, and most Establishment Republicans would not accept this assessment, but it sure looks that way from where I sit. There are deep divisions among the Establishment Republicans – in particular over the neo-conservatives, some of whom have been accepted into the Establishment and some of whom have not – but in general they stand together and have their own view of the way the system works.

As Peggy Noonan warns, they are in for a shock. The President has no intention of going back to the old ways and the old system. He intends to change the Republic in a fundamental way. In doing it he will divide the Democrat Party, and the real future of the republic –becoming-a-democracy will be in the hands of new democrats. History has seen this sort of thing before. The future of Rome lay not with Sulla and the Optimates but with Marius and the Populares. Until there came a time when neither was important and the Praetorian Guard determined who should be Emperor, but that is another story and we are not there yet.

It is time that the Republican Establishment realized that it has a better chance of retaining honor by getting along with the Tea Party and embracing freedom.

Someone has to stick with the principles of liberty and freedom. Maybe even a few Democrats will discover that.