Or something to get the express back on track. It’s either
gone off the rails lately, or just seems to have. And it not only has
to carry him and his campaign, but his whole party. That’s almost too
much for any vehicle right now.
What’s happening to the Republicans? Here’s the opening statement on a piece in The American Spectator:
No question, the GOP brand is mush. President Bush’s
popularity is in the tank. House Republicans cannot let go of earmarks
or the Farm Bill.
From the standpoint of morale, enthusiasm, and
confidence, the presidential election can be called no contest–Sen.
Barack Obama over Sen. John McCain. The Republican candidate has not
used the long period since he clinched the nomination to establish an
effective campaign strategy. The level of depression among Republicans
outside the McCain inner circle is worsening as Obama inches his way
rightward, toward the middle of the road (at least rhetorically).
The shift was approved by Mr. McCain after several of
his aides, including [new campaign manager Steve] Schmidt, went to him
about 10 days ago and warned him that he was in danger of losing the
presidential election to Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive
Democratic nominee, unless he revamped his campaign operation, two
officials close to the campaign said.
His party, at its core, needs to rediscover itself. Kim Strassel had a good piece on this in the WSJ the other day.
Outwardly, the House GOP is gearing up to take on
Democrats this fall. Inwardly, it’s in disarray, engaged in a fight
over the soul of the party. The reformers demand the leadership
aggressively define itself on health care, earmarks and spending; the
fat and happy push back, insisting their pork and their farm bills are
necessary for re-election.
In the middle, she points out astutely, is Minority Leader John
Boehner, who has to decide how to make leaders of them all. Difficult
job anytime in Washington. Particularly tough right now.
The GOP has been quarrelling over its image ever since
its 2006 electoral banishment. But the fight got nastier after the
party lost two special congressional elections in May. The Republican
Study Committee’s 105 conservatives have been aggressively challenging
the leadership’s agenda (which it views as too fuzzy) and its refusal
to rein in pork. The appropriator kings have banded together to block
reform, and have so far been winning the battle.
That’s bad for a party that needs reform. The Republican leader’s
heart is with the reformers, Strassel says, but his heart leads him to
“keep the peace”.
The minority leader likes consensus, and goes where the
majority of the party wants. Yet parties, by definition, become
minorities because the bulk of the members go wrong. They need their
leaders to look ahead, aggressively redefine the message, inspire and,
if need be, wrangle members into place.
While McCain re-tools, his party needs an overhaul.