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It’s time for a change: a Reagan not a Ford should lead the House GOP. Clearly John Boehner is not up to it.
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Worse — infinitely worse — House Republicans became complicit in running up the deficit and constantly expanding the size of government. Just a little less so, but of course.
It was a losing hand all around. Tellingly Ford tried to replicate the pattern when he became president. Appointing liberal GOP Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York as his vice president, Ford set about being the perfect moderate GOP president. He appointed the liberal John Paul Stevens to the Supreme Court. He had not the slightest intention of winning the Cold War, preferring instead to recognize the Soviets as moral equals of America and just continue the same old, same old of negotiating endlessly with them.
More to the political point: He kept right on deriding conservatives once in the White House, Ronald Reagan included. After insisting that Reagan was too extreme to win a presidential election Ford lost to Jimmy Carter. But even in retirement he never ceased to insist that moderation was the future of the GOP, warning in a 1979 speech aimed at Reagan that ”Neither government by nostalgia nor government by ideological reflex will meet America’s needs…”
The fact? As long as House Republicans paid attention to this hooey they never ran the House until the Gingrich Revolution. Not once. And when they listened to more of this hooey during the reign of the moderate Denny Hastert — they promptly lost it again.
Point Two: How did Ronald Reagan win the Cold War? It certainly wasn’t because he listened to all those sage moderates who said he needed to be nice to the Soviets. Who insisted he needed to accept détente and the reality the Soviet Union was here to stay for ever and ever. Reagan won the Cold War because he ignored all the siren songs of the Washington insiders. His idea was simple: “We win, they lose.” The Soviets lie and cheat, he said boldly at his first press conference. He cut the Soviet Ambassador off from his privileged status at the State Department and treated him like any other Ambassador — stunning Washington. He gave yet another speech and called the Soviets “an evil empire” — sending Washington’s insiders running for the smelling salts. All of that on top of jacking up defense spending, building a 600-ship Navy and launching the Strategic Defense Initiative.
In the end, Reagan pushed the Soviets onto the ash heap of history.
Point Three: Why are Points One and Two relevant here? What John Boehner is doing is playing Gerald Ford’s game. The Washington Insider Game. The old Me-Too game. The Dime Store New Deal Game. The game of accepting the liberal premise — i.e., the Soviet Union is here to stay forever — and simply rolling over for it. Politically speaking it is as gutless as it is worthless.
The end effect of this game is the same as it was in Gerald Ford’s days as Minority Leader. To give Republican support to the idea of expanding the State — and taking even more resources to do so. An idea that now, it comes clear to more and more daily, has America on the road to bankruptcy as a Chinese colony.
This is decidedly the next chapter in the increasingly dire argument about liberty or tyranny. Is the conservative party going to stand as a beacon showing the way forward to what Reagan called the shining city upon a hill? An economically prosperous, energy-independent nation bursting with free markets and opportunities for all in its colorblind society?
Or will the GOP wobble, to use a word Margaret Thatcher once made famous, and meekly surrender to the false idol of a mythical left-wing utopia that has never existed and will never exist? A “utopia” that in practice makes of America a jobless, whiny, racist, weak debtor nation
Underneath all the brass tacks language of Capitol Hill and Washington insider politics, what Boehner is actually about here — as were Ford and all those GOP Minority Leaders of the Lost 40 Years from 1954 to 1994 — is surrendering to the lethal nonsense of the mythical and quite deadly liberal utopia. To be hypnotized by the present. Politically paralyzed, unwilling to believe themselves capable to shape a very different future.
Boehner is letting the utopians advance, to borrow from Levin’s Ameritopia,”…through gradualism rather than revolution,” reselling the fools gold of “reforming and improving the existing society’s imperfections and weaknesses without imperiling its basic nature…(by a) transformation (that) is deemed innocuous, well-intentioned, and perhaps constructive but not a dangerous trespass on fundamental liberties.”
House Republicans have been led down this path repeatedly — never to any good for the country much less their own political benefit.
There is not a shred of leadership here. Boehner is bidding to be Ford when the GOP needs a Reagan or a Churchill. Someone willing to carry the fight against liberty and tyranny right straight to Obama — and not flinch.
Are Members concerned about losing their seats? With Romney’s loss of 3 million 2008 Republicans freshly in mind, it’s safe to say their own base will deal with them straight-up in 2014 if they abandon conservative principle. And as with 2006 — it won’t be pretty.
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