The Republican purity test

Eleven members of the Republican National Committee are circulating a resolution designed to keep Republicans conservative. Under the proposed plan, any candidate getting Republican party funding must agree to at least 8 of the 10 principles:

(1) Smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama’s “stimulus” bill
(2) Market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run healthcare;
(3) Market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation;
(4) Workers’ right to secret ballot by opposing card check
(5) Legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants;
(6) Victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges;
(7) Containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat
(8) Retention of the Defense of Marriage Act;
(9) Protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by opposing health care rationing and denial of health care and government funding of abortion; and
(10) The right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership

These don’t sound particularly radical, onerous, or even ideological, though they are being portrayed that way in the media. Questions: (1) How would you Republicans measure up? (2) How would you Democrats measure up? (My impression is that some Democrats probably agree with lots of these.) (3) Could you propose some more revealing propositions? (4) Is this a good way to make sure that Republicans stand for something specific, or would this further consign Republicans to a tiny pup tent of Southern right-wingers, thus dooming the party?

The Louisiana Purchase

The Health Care Reform Bill passed a key procedural vote in the Senate, shutting down the possibility of a filibuster, when Democratic leaders promised a moderate Democratic holdout $300 million for her state in return for her vote. Here is how the Washington Post describes this and other shenanigans:

Staffers on Capitol Hill were calling it the Louisiana Purchase.

On the eve of Saturday's showdown in the Senate over health-care reform, Democratic leaders still hadn't secured the support of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), one of the 60 votes needed to keep the legislation alive. The wavering lawmaker was offered a sweetener: at least $100 million in extra federal money for her home state.

And so it came to pass that Landrieu walked onto the Senate floor midafternoon Saturday to announce her aye vote — and to trumpet the financial "fix" she had arranged for Louisiana. "I am not going to be defensive," she declared. "And it's not a $100 million fix. It's a $300 million fix."

It was an awkward moment (not least because her figure is 20 times the original Louisiana Purchase price). But it was fairly representative of a Senate debate that seems to be scripted in the Southern Gothic style. The plot was gripping — the bill survived Saturday's procedural test without a single vote to spare — and it brought out the rank partisanship, the self-absorption and all the other pathologies of modern politics.

I am aware that “horse trading” is how things get done in the Senate, but Sen. Landrieu is so brazen about it–bragging about the money she got on the Senate floor–that this strike me as particularly shameful. I wonder if that $300 million will be calculated into the costs of this bill. At any rate, if we get a new health care system, whether for good or for bad, we can look back years later and thank Sen. Landrieu and the Democratic leadership for this Louisiana purchase.

AP assigns 11 fact-checkers to Palin’s book, but none to others

The Associated Press assigned 11 reporters to fact check Sarah Palin’s book. They found only minor questions on already-known disputed points. But they didn’t give this level of scrutiny to books by President Obama, Vice-President Biden, or other political figures. Why would this be?

When the former Republican vice presidential candidate and former Alaska governor wrote her autobiography, the AP found a copy before its release date and assigned 11 people to fact check all 432 pages. . . .

AP spokesman Paul Colford said the organization, with more than 4,000 employees, and 49 Pulitzer Prizes earned for asking the hard questions, has the luxury of putting multiple reporters on major stories. He confirmed 11 people worked on the story, but not all full-time. He refused to say, however, if similar number of journalists were assigned to review other political books, or if Palin has been treated differently. . . .

Reviewing books and holding public figures accountable is at the core of good journalism, but the treatment Palin’s book received appears to be something new for the AP. The organization did not review for accuracy recent books by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, then-Sen. Joe Biden, either book by Barack Obama released before he was president or autobiographies by Bill or Hillary Clinton. The AP did more traditional news stories on those books. The attraction to Palin doesnt appear to be partisan, since AP didnt fact-check recent political tomes by Republicans Rudy Giuliani or Newt Gingrich.

Sarah Palin: The Book

Sarah Palin’s book is out today. A friend of mine, Lynn Vincent, helped her write it. (I don’t see a credit line on the cover, at least, so that’s disappointing.) Are you going to buy it? (If so, you might as well click on the icon below and let the Cranach Institute get a commission.) Why is there such hype about this book, which the media could easily have ignored as it does most political biographies, and yet it is getting this huge play in the mainstream media, ranging from the Oprah show to the staid Washington Post? And why does Mrs. Palin stir such frenzy from both sides of the political spectrum? (If enough of you read the book, maybe we can have a discussion of it next week.)

Germany’s dull and effective chancellor

Angela Merkel won a big victory in Germany, with her conservative coalition trouncing the socialists and other leftist parties, strengthening her hand as Chancellor. Anne Applebaum comments:

Merkel's achievement is far greater than it seems. She is a soft-spoken, even-tempered and, frankly, dull pragmatist who has compared her economic program to that of a "Swabian housewife." Her campaigns are the most boring anyone can remember. Despite the decisiveness of her recent victory, she humbly declared that she "respected those who did not vote for me." To underline that point, she celebrated her new term as chancellor with a lunch of potato soup and sausages, an event that the Financial Times called "so low-key it resembled an atonement rite more than a celebration." She is, if you like, the anti-Obama: zero charisma, zero glamour, beige pantsuits and a spouse who rarely appears in public.

And yet, partly by default and partly by design, Merkel is now the de facto leader of Europe. Over in Britain, Gordon Brown's Labor Party is immolating itself. Over in France, President Nicolas Sarkozy's attention-deficit issues propel him from one project to the next, to the irritation of everybody. The Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, is under endless investigation, and everyone else is too small or too preoccupied to compete. Even when the European Union chooses its next president later this year, he (and it almost certainly will be a he) will find it extremely difficult to do anything that contradicts the wishes of Merkel, who regularly tops lists of the world's most powerful women.
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In fact, the more I watch her, the more I am convinced that her femaleness holds the key to her success. Under her watch, Germany has continued to grow more powerful, more influential, more dominant than ever before. Yet not only has no one noticed, they applaud and ask for more. If a bull-necked Helmut Kohl or a flashy Gerhard Schroeder were running Germany, there would be rising anxiety and mumbling about the Fourth Reich — just as there was 20 years ago, at the time of German reunification, when Kohl was still in charge. But Merkel provokes no jealousy or competitiveness among the alpha males who run large countries, and she inspires no fear among the citizens of smaller ones.

On the contrary, Germany even has good relations with most of its neighbors to the east, many of which are inclined to distrust Germans as a matter of principle. This is partly because she is so willing to show up when asked, and offer mild-mannered words of friendship and apologies for World War II. After which she returns home and works to make Germany stronger and more dominant in the region. And everyone smiles. . . .

Until now, Merkel's various failings have often been attributed to the fact that she was in a "grand coalition," one of those only-in-Europe dysfunctional parliamentary governments, the result of a coalition between the Socialist left and the Christian Democrat right — an arrangement somewhat as though the White House were shared evenly between Republicans and Democrats. Every tiny issue had to be negotiated between the two major parties, every step in foreign or domestic policy elaborately discussed. But now her coalition partner is another center-right party, the Free Democrats, and she has no more excuses. Perhaps that is why she has suddenly started talking about cutting taxes, which in Germany counts as genuinely radical.

Instead of looking for “charismatic” candidates, let’s look for dull and effective ones!

Conservatives vs. Republicans

Politico.com reports that conservatives are gearing up to launch primary challenges against a dozen moderate or liberal incumbent Republicans in next year’s House and Senate elections:

In what could be a nightmare scenario for Republican Party officials, conservative activists are gearing up to challenge leading GOP candidates in more than a dozen key House and Senate races in 2010.

Conservatives and tea party activists had already set their sights on some of the GOP’s top Senate recruits — a list that includes Gov. Charlie Crist in Florida, former Rep. Rob Simmons in Connecticut and Rep. Mark Kirk in Illinois, among others.

But their success in Tuesday’s upstate New York special election, where grass-roots efforts pushed GOP nominee Dede Scozzafava to drop out of the race and helped Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman surge into the lead on the eve of Election Day, has generated more money and enthusiasm than organizers ever imagined.

Activists predict a wave that could roll from California to Kentucky to New Hampshire and that could leave even some GOP incumbents — Utah Sen. Bob Bennett is one — facing unexpectedly fierce challenges from their right flank.

“I would say it’s the tip of the spear,” said Dick Armey, the former GOP House majority leader who now serves as chairman of FreedomWorks, an organization that has been closely aligned with the tea party movement. “We are the biggest source of energy in American politics today.”

“What you’re going to see,” said Armey, “is moderates and conservatives across the country in primaries.”

These high-stakes primaries, pitting the activist wing of the party against the establishment wing, stand to have a profound impact on the 2010 election landscape since they will create significant problems for moderate candidates recruited by the national party precisely because they appear well-suited to win in places that are not easily — or even plausibly — won by conservative candidates.

Some liberal pundits are saying, “Good! This will ensure that Republicans are the party of the right, which will alienate voters and cement liberal dominance.” Some conservative pundits are saying, “Good! This will ensure that Republicans are the party of the right, which will give voters a choice against failed liberal policies.”

But this didn’t seem to work very well in New York’s 23 district, did it?

What do you think?


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