October 19, 2006
Are Pre Mortem "Reynoldistas" Sabotaging the GOP?By Rick Moran
In this, the season of Republican discontent, the various tribes that make up the GOP have been slapping on their war paint and dancing the war dance while getting ready for the big day.
No, not election day. The real fun begins the day after the vote when the recriminations following a probable Republican loss of the House (and perhaps the Senate) will explode into the kind of internecine warfare not seen by the GOP since the Goldwater debacle of 1964. Many conservatives will have the long knives out hunting for scalps, looking for scapegoats, and readying the hot tar and feathers for use against some very special targets.
The immediate butt of their ire will be a small but influential group of pundits who, to one degree or another, are predicting a GOP loss prior to the election, while intimating in so many words that perhaps this is the best thing that could have happened to the party at this time. The logic (or insanity depending on one's world view) used to justify this position is that a thoroughly chastened GOP will magically reform itself in two years, kick out the deadwood in Congress, throw up a new generation of dynamic conservative leaders who will take the party back to the promised land in 2008.
Yeah, right, as we say in Chicago.
It should be noted that there is a difference between those, like Richard Baehr, Chief Political Correspondent for The American Thinker, whose coldly rational and logically devastating look at Republican prospects in November points to a probable takeover by Democrats of the House and those who actually look forward to a GOP defeat, believing that it would be good for the party. After all, with a half dozen seats written off already due to the malfeasance or turpitude of a particular GOP member, the historical forces at work during the off year election of a second term incumbent become extremely difficult to overcome when the margin for error is as small as it is for the GOP.
I have dubbed this group of GOP curmudgeons Reynoldistas after Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds whose 'Pre Mortem' post on the election raised the hackles of many conservatives who felt the blogger was being a defeatist by listing the reasons for the GOP's probable downfall. Reynolds makes it clear that he believes that the GOP deserves to lose while also saying that the Democrats don't deserve to win. Is this defeatist? Or realism? Or, as Professor Reynolds claims, is it simply analysis?
It is perhaps unfair to lump Reyonolds in with other pundits who are actually urging people to sit on their hands on election day in order to teach the GOP "a lesson." One problem is the effect that Reynolds has on the thinking of other bloggers. More importantly, the fact that he is widely quoted by the opposition does tend to raise the visibility of questions surrounding conservative commitment to voting on Election Day. Whether he realizes it or not, many see his belief that Republicans deserve defeat as no different than those Republicans who believe a Democratic takeover would somehow be good for the party.
As a counterpoint to the Reynoldistas, there are many conservatives who are dismissing the polls out of hand while confidently predicting that the GOP will hold on to both Houses of Congress, despite the seeming lack of evidence for such optimism. I have dubbed these sunny side of the street Republicans Hewittonians after the most enthusiastic and eternally optimistic Hugh Hewitt.
Again, it may be unfair to Mr. Hewitt to lump him together with some of the mindless partisans who refuse to recognize the dire straits that the GOP finds itself in three weeks out from the election and viciously attack anyone who they believe isn't showing sufficient enthusiasm for the coming GOP victory. But for those who hunger for hope and a reasonable analysis, Hewitt supplies the antidote to the Reynoldistas' relentless pessimism.
But the question is: are both camps doing a disservice to the party? Or, are they both serving a vital purpose to prepare the party faithful for both the election and its aftermath?
A GOP loss will, from a purely political standpoint, be a devastating blow. The inevitable finger pointing and scalp hunting that would follow a Republican debacle on Election Day would almost certainly encompass the current leadership in the House and open the door to new leadership who, it is hoped, will have learned a thing to two about satisfying the base, not to mention how to govern according to conservative principles. In this respect, the Reynoldistas are correct that a loss at the polls would probably make the GOP a better, smarter party.
But is an electoral loss necessary to achieve that goal? The Hewittonians are convinced that party reform could best be accomplished as a majority, albeit a chastened one. Wholesale turnover of the leadership would not be in the cards but that doesn't mean that meaningful change couldn't be accomplished in other areas, especially on the issues of pork and earmarks.
In the end, both the pessimists and optimists make it clear that they only have the good of the party at heart. This is all well and good except when it comes to the real world consequences of a Democratic takeover of the House. It is when thinking of what handing the reins of power over to a group of irresponsible, unserious, conspiracy mongers in the Democratic Party that one should pause and think very carefully about teaching the GOP 'a lesson' about anything.
Criticizing the Administration for their failures in Iraq and the War on Terror is one thing. There are many of us who wish that the War were prosecuted much more vigorously and with more passion. Now imagine a party in power that doesn't believe we are at war at all, that the War on Terror is a political ploy being used by the White House to win elections and gather power for the executive at the expense of the other branches of government.
It is simply unconscionable to advocate for the defeat of the only party that wishes to engage the enemy in battle, confront rogue states that support terrorism, and do everything that the Constitution allows to keep the homeland safe. We can quibble about details regarding strategy or tactics. But in the end, the election of Democrats would mean a radical change in the way that the War on Terror will be fought.
A newly hatched Democratic Congress, driven by their far left net roots who will take full credit for any electoral victory by the party, will disengage from Iraq, end programs that have proven themselves over time to have kept us safe from attack at home, while turning to the United Nations for directions on what to do about Iran and North Korea.
It is perhaps inevitable that there is enormous discontent among conservatives with this Congress and even with the President. But conservative angst about their performance and translating that dissatisfaction into Election Day pouting absolutely must take a back seat to what the alternative would be. For if the Democrats take control, the blame for such a turn of events will be shared by both Congress itself and those who believe that reforming the party takes precedence over the safety and security of the United States.