Republicans roll over &play dead
By By Tray Smith
In light of both everything the Republican Party has put itself through over the past year and everything the media has put the Republican Party through over the past year, it was no real surprise that Republican control of Congress was forced to a close this week only for majority power to be assumed by Democrats when the next Congress convenes on January 4th, 2007. But, as a member of the Republican Party, I have found myself far more embarrassed by the way the party has handled its defeat than by the defeat itself. If it is true that character is shown not in the wake of victory but in the aftermath of defeat, President Bush and the broader Republican Party do not have much character to boast.
After Republicans increased their majorities in both houses of Congress in 2004, defeated Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle, and re-elected George W. Bush to the White House, hopes were high. Social Security and the tax code were both going to be overhauled. The welfare state was going to become the ownership society. But, at the hands of obstructionist Democrats who never really acknowledged their defeat and Republican infighting which ultimately proved self defeating, the Republican Congressional leaders proved themselves to be the incapable political operatives they were. Thus, Republicans lost their will to act, they lost sight of their principles, and, as a result, they lost their majority.
That generally accepted conclusion makes one wonder: if Republicans lost their control on Congress not on stubborn adherence to their principles but because of a drastic departure from them, why have Republican officials spend the last few weeks further removing themselves from those principles and thus the voters who offer them the best chance of returning to majority status in the future?
Of all of the governing incompetence, scandals, and overspending the GOP has championed over the past two years, nothing was more shameful than the way President Bush treated Donald Rumsfeld, the outgoing Secretary of Defense. Announcing his decision to replace Rumsfeld on the day following the election, President Bush wasted no time in backing down to the Democrats who have spent the last six years opposing everything he has tried to do. Of course, the President is probably happy the Democrats have taken control of Congress because under their leadership he has a much better chance of getting his amnesty for illegal aliens, payroll tax increase, and renewal of No Child Left Behind Act passed then he ever did when his own party was in power, even of those achievements must come at the price of impeachment.
Rumsfeld was and still is a giant. He served his country both as a member of the armed forces and as Secretary of Defense in history, becoming the only person to serve in that post twice since its inception. At the Pentagon, Rumsfeld challenged the special interest groups all so influential at the Department of Defense and transformed our military into a 21st Century fighting force truly capable of winning the global war on terror. His leadership in the aftermath of 9/11 and his handling of the initial invasion of Iraq was spectacular.
And for all of Iraq's postwar problems, Donald Rumsfeld should bear the least responsibility. As his recently leaked memo to the President, written before his resignation, revealed, Rumsfeld was the chief proponent of a lighter military footprint in Iraq, similar to the one I proposed on this page last week, and he has been ever since combat operations ended in 2003. And, also as I did last week, the Defense Secretary supported such a policy not because he felt that the challenge in Iraq was to hard or the cost were to overbearing, but because he knew it was and is the best way to achieve victory.
Yet, as so often happens in Washington, the Democrats were able to distort reality and paint Rumsfeld as the chief architect of our current policy solely because of their personal distaste for him. As was also the case with U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, whose temporary appointment to that post expires in January. Though Bolton has been by far the best U.N. Ambassador we have had in twenty years, his dedication to reforming the U.N. and ruthlessly advancing U.S. policy before the international community has led Democrats to block his permanent nomination. Instead of leading a public debate over Bolton's qualifications, which President Bush could have easily won, the President accepted his resignation but complained that he is "not happy about it." He is the President of the Unite States! When he is unhappy about something, he usually has the power to get it changed. The question with Bush is does he have the will?
When Republicans get elected into office, they waste no time in apologizing for being conservative as the Democrats successfully fight them tooth and nail. When Democrats get elected, they waste no time lying about how they are the true conservatives as Republicans roll over and play dead. Say what you want about the Democrats, but they will not ever loose an election because they have abandoned their principles.
That is the bottom line.
Tray Smith is a sophomore at ECHS and former intern in the Riley administration. He can be reached for comment at email@example.com.