While many conservative Republicans viewed the Wall Street bailout bill as a disaster, others were privately pleased with the way the politics played out. The two most satisfied Republicans may have been House GOP deputy whip Eric Cantor and House conference chair Adam Putnam, who were both front and center for the cameras as the bill was initially killed, then resurrected by Republicans and passed. “Both have their eyes on bigger jobs in the next Congress. Both want to be higher-profile leaders,” says a House Republican leadership aide.
But both privately were supporters of the House bailout bill, when many conservative members were of a differing opinion. And both reportedly had opportunities to push more forcefully for a conservative alternative to the legislation pushed by the Bush administration and Treasury Department.
That hasn’t stopped the chatter about Cantor potentially challenging Minority Leader John Boehner or House Whip Roy Blunt, who led negotiations in the first round of bailout bill negotiations.
Putnam is said to be interested in the House Whip post as well.
But six months ago, both men’s base was the conservative wing of the House, and that wing has been decimated by the bailout vote.
“We don’t know how many of those guys are going to survive this election cycle,” says the House leadership aide. “That bailout bill is going to be end up being a huge problem for a lot of our guys, not just this election cycle, but possibly the one after that, depending on what happens.”
Both Cantor and Putnam privately pressed conservative Republicans to help with passage of the second, pork-bloated version of the bailout bill. Meanwhile, current leadership blocked any attempt by conservatives to add more stringent oversight and management amendments to the bill.
“Boehner and Blunt were already on thin ice, and this may be the bill that ultimately puts them under,” says a House member who reluctantly voted for the second bill. “I don’t want any of them back, but it’s not clear to me who else steps up. We let down the American people, and I don’t see how any of us go home and look our constituents in the eye.”
If Sen. John McCain loses the presidential election, recriminations will be broad and swift. Already, there is talk of who will take over management of a woefully mismanaged Republican National Committee, which because of McCain’s decision to accept public financing has borne the brunt of managing his national campaign. Current RNC chairman Mike Duncan stepped up to fill the void left by Sen. Mel Martinez’s exit, but has been a disappointment. “We needed a wartime chairman, someone who could be a real leader, and Duncan isn’t it,” says a current RNC employee. “We needed a [former RNC chairman Edward] Gillespie type, not a low-key manager.”
Further discussion will also focus on the team that surrounded McCain, which was famously ineffective and lived up to its nickname: “Dole ’08.”
“These guys were backbiting, bad-mouthing their own candidates and doing just about everything wrong,” says a current McCain senior staffer. “We had senior McCain and RNC leaders going out a week after Sarah Palin was announced as the running mate bad-mouthing her, McCain, and the ticket.”
In fact, some of McCain’s most trusted advisers—to both him and his wife, Cindy—were bad-mouthing Palin to the press in the days leading up to and during the Republican convention. “I’ve never seen a group of people so happily bad-mouth their guy and gal,” says another longtime McCain adviser. “It’s disgusting and there ought to be reckoning. We were talking ourselves out of victory when the battle wasn’t even close to being over.”
The campaign of Barack Obama in midsummer deployed a three-person research team to Arizona, among other locations, to compile materials, articles, and backup documents on Cindy McCain’s struggle with prescription painkillers, and for about a month shopped the materials to media outlets they felt would be receptive to following through on the information, according to a producer for CNN, who was approached.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online