So, no sooner than I spend the better part of a week making the case as to why conservatives ought to not sit out the 2006, elections, Dennis Hastert and many senior Republicans behave in a manner that suggests they’re riding to the aid of Democratic Congressman William Jefferson and declaring that the FBI has no right to search a member’s office.
Much of my reaction through yesterday was not printable on NRO. Too profane, too many suggestions of anatomically impossible positions, too many insinuations of Oedipal behavior. You get the idea.
Right now, on Red State, 11 out of 25 front-page posts are about Hastert's insistence that the FBI return the records it seized as evidence from Jefferson's office. The tone is, as you would expect, scathing. I particularly like Blanton's recommendation for Republicans seeking to distance themselves from Hastert's position.
Sorry, Mark Krikorian, Hastert got that "blithering idiot" label from JPod the old-fashioned way: he earned it.
I was struck by a comment that a GOP staffer made to my buddy Dales
, that, “I have been inspired by the recent actions of the Speaker and Majority Leader. It would have been easier perhaps for them to score quick political points, to ignore a constitutional responsibility, 291 years of precedent and the potential consequences for future generations.”
For starters, when you’ve just shot yourself in a foot with a howitzer, and managed to change the one lawmaker caught with piles of cash in his freezer from a Democratic problem to a Republican problem, stop bragging about your high-minded refusal to score quick political points. Don’t know if you’ve noticed, pal, but the GOP hasn’t been scoring any political points these days. When you’re getting shut out 21-0 heading into halftime, it’s not the right time to take such pride in your good sportsmanship.
The legal folks I read and trust seem to think the constitutional argument is pretty weak; at the very least, Hastert’s logic would establish lawmakers’ offices as no-search-zones, where any lawmaker could stash any evidence he wished, beyond the reach of law enforcement. Hmm. Better rethink those “potential consequences for future generations.”
This dispute reminded me of the other recent huge fight within the GOP, over illegal immigration.
I am not enamored with the President’s position on illegal immigration. More specifically, I think it is unwise for a leader of a country and a party to take an issue that its base of voters is purple with rage about, and then promptly poke that base with a sharp stick. A guest worker program might be a good idea someday, but that day is not today. What is needed this day is a secure border, best ensured by a fence, along with efforts to punish employers who hire illegal immigrants, and those who facilitate illegal immigrants’ work by generating fake documents. Once the public at large feels that the border is secure, then the issue of how to deal with illegal immigrants currently in the country will be seen in a new light.
The President, apparently, passionately believes that his base is wrong, and that taking them on directly is worthwhile.
The Speaker of the House apparently, passionately believes that everyone in his base who is cheering the FBI’s collection of evidence from Jefferson’s office is wrong, and that taking them on directly is worthwhile.
Taking on your base is a risky game on the best of days, and these are not the best of days for the GOP. We heard a lot about the growth of blogs’ power and influence in 2004 and 2005. Well, at this point, it does not seem that any Republican leader is aware of the tone of incredulousness and fury on NRO, or Red State, or Instapundit, or Volokh, or Best of the Web, or any of the others?
I’m not saying that lawmakers have to bow and scrape to bloggers; but the people who read and post at these kinds of sites are among the most vocal and motivated members of the GOP base. And right now, too many Republican leaders are metaphorically giving them the finger.
At this moment, I completely understand the anger of the Tapscottians, those who are content to see a GOP majority fall. Although honestly, at this moment, I don’t want to wait until November to see this kind of behavior punished.