By Rich Lowry
The Hendricks County Flyer
Fri Mar 22, 2013, 04:47 PM EDT
It is not just the winter of Republican discontent. It will in all likelihood be the spring, summer, and fall, as well.
The national party is leaderless and nearly issueless, but besides that, is thriving and in fine fighting trim.
It used to be that the Republicans were nasty people because they exploited "wedge issues," which was the pejorative way to describe issues that were popular with the public but made Democrats uncomfortable. The phrase has been retired. Even if it weren't, it's not clear what Republican issue it would apply to anymore.
Once, taxes and national security were the party's pillars, supplemented by domestic issues like welfare reform and crime and by symbolic issues like the Pledge of Allegiance and flag burning. Now, the pillars are in disrepair.
Cuts in income taxes don't have the same resonance because rates are so much lower than 30 years ago. Republicans formerly had success with across-the-board tax cuts that reduced rates at the top and for everyone else. By focusing on raising rates on the top, Obama has forced them into almost exclusively defending "tax cuts for the rich."
In theory, national security is still a Republican strength, but it doesn't have as much resonance as in the years after Sept. 11.
The party's premier new idea during the past few years is Medicare premium support, a worthy and creative proposal and, as it happens, an unpopular one.
The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll has Democrats leading on: looking out for the middle class, Medicare, health care, reducing gun violence, Social Security, immigration, taxes, and the economy. The good news for Republicans is that they lead on everything else. The bad news is that everything else is only spending, the deficit, and national security.
The problem with the deficit as an issue is that people care about economic growth more, and the problem with spending cuts is that people like them more in the abstract than in reality.
At times, "we have a $16 trillion debt" seems the sum total of the party's argumentation. When party leaders say that they have to become the party of growth again, the policy they invariably advance to that end ... is reducing the $16 trillion debt.
This necessary, but hardly sufficient message is almost all we hear from Republicans in Congress, where their majority in the House gives them responsibility without decisive influence. The House Republicans mainly have blocking power. Woe to the republic if they didn't. But if you block things, you're easily labeled an obstructionist, and wouldn't you know it, people don't like obstructionists.
Their only hope to deflect the nation from its profligate budgetary path is confrontations coinciding with key fiscal inflection points, like the deadline for the sequester. They always ride into these fights badly outgunned.
The John McCain ad dubbing Barack Obama as the biggest celebrity in the world back in 2008 was accurate. What Republicans didn't consider is that being a celebrity is a priceless asset in contemporary America. Two hundred and thirty members of the House don't have a chance against a president, let alone a celebrity-president.
This won't change soon. It is too early to have a presidential candidate or even a presidential field, so the GOP lacks a head and therefore a unified voice.
Of course, it wasn't long ago that Democrats seemed to be in dire straits. The party agonized over appealing to "values voters" after 2004. Little did they know that eight years later, they would run a successful re-election campaign on limitless abortion and free contraception. The Bush-era Democrats benefited from serial Republican debacles, from Jack Abramoff to the financial crisis.
Events will again take a hand, as they always do. And since last fall's election, top Republicans from Bobby Jindal to Marco Rubio have been talking about a more bread-and-butter economic agenda. Fleshing that out, though, is a longer-term proposition. In the meantime, Republicans should prepare themselves for more discontent.
(c) 2013 by King Features Syndicate
I hate dog movies. In dog movies, the good, loyal, lovable dog always dies at the end and I end up sitting there in the dark with big tears streaming down my cheeks.
May 21, 2013
Mr. President, the buck stops with you.
President Truman set that standard, with these very words posted on a sign on his Oval Office desk.
But now, with over a thousand days left in this second Obama administration, we find a Nixonian stench emerging from the “W. House.”
Rarely has the White House briefing room so resembled the main ballroom at a meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference.
I’ve not kept it a secret that I find people who dress their dogs in clothes to be, to put it nicely, somewhat more than just eccentric. And many friendly, helpful readers out there have not kept it a secret that they really wish I would not express my views about dogs dressed as humans.
May 17, 2013
Distrust of government secrecy has been elevated to an exceptional level with the disclosure the Justice Department covertly examined two months of Associated Press phone records to determine who leaked details to the AP about a foiled terrorist plot.
The federal government recently announced new regulations for buying fast food.
It sounds like the plot from a dystopian libertarian novel. The word “patriot” and the phrase “educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights” triggered heightened scrutiny from the most intrusive agency in the federal government.
The action at the bird feeder has been spectacular lately: Cardinals, finches, songbirds in impressive variety crowding around all day long in search of sustenance. It is truly gratifying …
For my neighbor.
That’s what it’s like at his feeder.
May 14, 2013
On April 27, Dr. Jeff Butts demonstrated a rare form of servant leadership as he participated in the Go Love Indy westside service project.
May 13, 2013
Everyone presumes that Sen. Chuck Schumer, the media-hungry Democrat from New York, wants to be the next Senate majority leader. His performance in the negotiations over the Gang of Eight immigration plan should bolster his case for an eventual promotion.
Part I: Are We Prepared? | Part II: Disaster Dollars Part III: Lessons Learned | Part IV: Warning Signs Part V: The Big One
When J.J. Abrams took over the "Star Trek" franchise in 2009, he boldly went where the series hadn't gone before — romantically — pairing Uhura with Spock. Many fans disliked the change. Some loved it. Others didn't care, because they just wanted to see Kirk and Spock make out.
May 22, 2013
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