Like Gateway Pundit, I didn’t think Bobby Jindal’s speech was bad*, but this DC Examiner article by Byron York is still of interest:
“A Major Doctrinal Shift for Republicans”
I just got off the phone with a very plugged-in Republican strategist who told me that Republican reaction to President Obama’s speech, which the party will roll out in the next few days, will mark the beginning of a new GOP approach to opposing the president’s initiatives. (No, Bobby Jindal’s ineffective response was not part of that new approach — everyone seems a little embarrassed about that.) The Republican leadership in the House has concluded that in the stimulus debate, the GOP succeeded in dominating a number of news cycles but failed to score any points on actual policy. That, the leaders believe, has got to change.
“You’re seeing a major doctrinal shift in how Republicans are going to focus all these debates,” the strategist told me. “The key is to focus on winning the issue as opposed to winning the political moment. If you win the issue, people will think you are ready to govern.”
Just a few weeks ago, House Republicans cheered and high-fived each other for unanimously opposing the stimulus. Now, having realized they won the soundbite contest but lost the war, they don’t want to talk about it. That is a major shift indeed.
This change in focus sounds great to me, and I endorse it – but I don’t think that we should discount House Republicans’ unified actions in opposing the Democrats’ debt bill. The ability of Cantor and Boehner to hold the line on voting against that monstrosity was a powerful shot in the arm for rank-and-file conservatives and Republicans who wanted some indication – any indication, really – that our representatives were paying attention. Every time the GOP pulls off something like this, it makes the next time easier. As just one example: does anybody here think that we would have lost only two votes to the Democrats on Flake’s anti-corruption resolution if we hadn’t stood firm on the debt bill? Sure, voting in favor of investigating the links between campaign contributions and earmarks is the smart choice anyway**, but absent the idea that the House GOP can stand together when necessary we would have lost more ‘presents’ to ‘nos,’ and probably more ‘yeas’ to ‘presents.’ So while I agree that focusing on strategy instead of tactics is a good call, I also want to make sure that we don’t actually discount the tactics, either.
We also need to start paying serious attention to logistics, but that’s a whole different post. Suffice it to say right now that it’s time to reopen the faucets.
*Merely not the slay-the-beast speech that people are yearning for, perhaps unwisely. I can think of at least three things that are more important for the GOP right now.
**Yes, I’m suggesting that the Democrats’ willingness to close ranks behind Murtha and the rest of the PMA Porkers on this was dumb, dumb, dumb. OK, I’m actually saying it outright at this point.
Crossposted at Moe Lane.