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Lessons, and the real record, from the Gingrich era.
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Anyway, if new Speaker John Boehner intends to really save some money against a president far more liberal than Bill Clinton was, and against not a moderate Republican Senate majority but a liberal Democratic one, he’ll need to engineer as big a shake-up on Appropriations this year as Gingrich did back then. Kingston’s record indicates he has the right philosophy; let’s hope he also has the skill and will.
Third, it helps to keep in perspective the art of the possible. It is counterproductive to carp over every small concession to political realities. The conniption fits some critics had over the balanced budget deal reached in 1997 look silly in retrospect, because that deal now looks like fiscal conservative nirvana. The key, after getting as good as you can get, is to come right back for more (or less, as the case may be) almost as soon as the ink is dry. That’s what Clinton did from the other side in the mid-90s: He fought and fought and fought the GOP’s discipline, finally gave in — and then came back the very next year and fought and fought and fought for more spending again. Conservatives this time can and should do the opposite: Fight for as much discipline as possible — and then after they can win no more concessions this year, they should come back in the next year with an even stronger public case and a rededicated strength of will.
Fourth, stay on an even keel. Gingrich himself, to his credit, now acknowledges that he was too mercurial and too high-profile in the 1990s, even as he led Congress to major accomplishments. Boehner’s low-key steadiness may be a better fit for the job this time around. Steadiness also can ward off a lot of the infighting that broke out (and caused a mid-term near coup) during the Gingrich era. The real story of the collapse of the great Gingrich Congress — and it was, for nearly three years, great — was that the House caucus did survive the “government shutdown” at the end of 1995, but never did overcome the fallout from the coup attempt in 1997. Boehner will need to pay more heed to managing personalities and egos than Gingrich did. And all the new congressmen, including Tea Party conservatives, need to cut him slack on little things even while holding his feet to the fire on major principles. Political cannibalism is, of course, eventually self-destructive.
They all face a long-term battle; not every short-term dispute is a crisis. And sometimes tactical stalemates can lead to strategic gains.
As for the Appropriations battle, I’ve seen Jack Kingston work, close up, when he was still just a congressional fledgling. He’s solid. If he’s the new chairman, conservatives will have a champion just like they had in Livingston. It’ll help him remain a champion if conservatives give him some of the thanks and credit Livingston retroactively was denied.
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.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?