Saturday, January 15, 2005

No More Mr. Nice Guy

Since George W. Bush first assumed office in 2001, the Democrats have employed a go-along-to-get-along strategy. They not only deferred to and compromised with the GOP on many post-9/11 national security issues--perhaps understandable if short-sighted--but also on many domestic issues, such as the unnecessary tax cuts. What has this strategy wrought? Devestating mid-term election losses in 2002, and a demoralizing presidential election loss in 2004. And still it seems that many Democrats would rather seek out compromise than fight for their principals.

But as Michael Crowley points out in this New Republic essay, had Newt Gingrich been so easily rolled, he might never have engineered the electoral revolution that trounced a corrupt and recalcitrant Democratic majority from Congress in 1994. Crowley said it's high time that Democrats adopt these tactics. Some of the young bucks in the party, like Texas' Chris Bell, are eager to get their hands dirty, and as Crowley notes, their leaders are as anxious to distance themselves from such tactics as were the Republicans before Gingrich and his disciples captured the party:

Gingrich didn't care that Republican leaders of the time found him uncouth--just as senior Democrats were wary of Chris Bell's ethics crusade. "Be gentlemanly, and once you've made your point, get on with the business of governing," was the motto of Bob Michel, then the House GOP leader. But, in Gingrich's view, gentlemen were political losers.

One of the young Republicans who took a lesson from Gingrich's playbook was a guy named Rick Santorum, who had been elected to the House in 1990 and joined Gingrich's campaign against Democratic corruption and abuse of power. Whatever happened to Santorum? Oh, yeah, he got elected to the Senate in 1994, is now the number three man in the Senate, and is mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2008. (His name also has became a slang term for a byproduct of anal sex, but you can't win them all.)

Gingrich may have been brought low by his own hubris, but his party no longer needed him. Now, of course, they are as corrupt as the Democratic majority they overthrew, and it is time for a Democratic Gingrich to emerge. Democrats need to stop worry about being labeled "obstructionists" unless they want to continue to be labeled "losers."


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home