Thursday, October 19, 2006

New Newt?

The Moose ponders the identity of the donkey's Newt.

The Moose participated in the Republican Revolution of '94. Now, we may be on the verge of another great upheaval. We may be seeing a "Stockman Syndrome" named after the hapless Republican who defeated the powerful Congressman Jack Brooks in '94. All types of characters may be elected defeating Democrats who were thought to be safe.

Although much of the Republican victory in '94 had to do with the Clinton Administration's mishaps and long term GOP trends, there was an idea factor that contributed to the GOP triumph. Gingrich artfully channeled the Perot and conservative anti-establishment rage into a comprehensive agenda that included everything from term limits to welfare reform.

In contrast, Democrats are benefitting from the collapse of Republican governance. While Democrats have many proposals on the shelf, they have not offered anything comparable to the Contract With America. And given the state of the GOP and the Union, they may very well not need such a defined agenda.

Rahm Emanuel is the closet approximation to a Democratic Newt - although the comparison is tenuous. Along with Bruce Reed, Emanuel has issued an innovative agenda for Democratic governance - the Plan. On the political front, Emanuel has admirably done his job in raising money and recruiting candidates.

But, Emanuel may have an edge on Newt in one major area. The problem with Newt came after the Republicans took power. We now know why the Lord did not let Moses into the Promised Land - the skills for taking power were not the same as those needed for governance.

In contrast to the Newt of the nineties, Emanuel has a Clintonite feel for the center of the country. A testimonial to Emanuel's political sagacity is that some of the nutroots types are now attacking him. All sensible centrists should consider it a badge of honor when that crowd comes after you.

Emanuel may best serve his party after the election if he is elected to a position of leadership. The danger for the donkey is that the liberal leadership of a Democratic House will over-reach and make '08 a Republican year. That is why the Democrats need a strong, savvy centrist like Emanuel in a leadership position in the aftermath of the November election. Along with Steny Hoyer, Emanuel can help present a sensible centrist contrast to failed Republican governance.

Meanwhile, expect the entire Republican House leadership to fall if they lose the House. The Moose puts his money on Mike Pence as the next Republican Leader - minority leader, that is.
-- Posted at 8:18 AM | Link to this post | Email this post