Last night I was at a private, off the record dinner of people very smart about politics, and I put in my two cents about why conservatives are better poised, and Republicans are better poised, to produce lasting political gains in Congress now than they were in 1995. (I continue to argue, conversely, that the 1995-1997 Republicans get far too little credit for their policy successes. I actually argue that those policy successes augur well for this coming Congress, too, because it shows that Republicans do indeed know how to govern.) It’s hard to say effectively off the top of one’s head what somebody can better organize and say in a considered column, but my basic arguments, it turns out, tracked remarkably closely to the wonderful column by Ramesh Ponnuru today at NRO. Although my reasoning last night was in almost every particular the same as Ramesh’s today, Ramesh did a far better job, indeed a brilliant job, of explaining that Republicans are better prepapared at a deeper level of their ranks than they were in 1995.
[T]he new Republican majority is more seasoned. The last Republican House before 1995 adjourned in 1955. Almost none of the Republicans who took Congress in 1995 had ever been in the majority. Most of them had not even contemplated being in the majority until the 1994 campaign. The new majority includes many congressmen who were in the old majority until January 2007. They know the ropes — and so do many of their aides. There won’t be as much need for on-the-job training. Sixth, the new Republican majority is less factionalized than the old one. The moderate contingent was much larger in 1995, though it was declining even then.
His whole column is well worth readiing. For all I know, he’s on the NRO cruise right now. If so, he is enjoying a reward well deserved for such cogent analysis.
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