A Brief Republican History Lesson
Or how to lose the House, the Senate, the presidency, the country, your shirt, and a partridge in a pear tree, all in one swell foop, I mean fell swoop!
Well, maybe not one fell swoop. It actually took a couple of elections to do it. It just seems like we lost it all in one night. So how did we get there?
Prior to the Clinton administration, the Democrats had enjoyed majorities in both houses of Congress — sometimes with the presidency and sometimes not — for so many years that the exceptions are too insignificant to even mention. And that’s the way the Republican old bulls liked it. The Democrats ran things, chaired all of the committees, and did all of the work. All that the Republican old bulls had to do was occupy space, show up to vote once in a while, and collect their paychecks, and all was peaceful. Then came Newt.
Due in no small part to the Clinton national health care debacle, conservative Republican New Gingrich saw an opportunity to make significant Republican gains in the House of Representatives in the ’94 mid-term elections, perhaps even gain a majority, and maybe even make himself Speaker. Well, old Newt put together a plan and a team, attracted many new young conservative Republicans to contest Democrat held seats and almost single-handedly dragged the Republican old bulls kicking and screaming into the majority in the House of Representatives and, in the process, ensconced himself into the House speakership.
That was good, right? Well, not quite. Now the Republicans actually had to run the place, and that meant W-O-R-K! I would ask everyone who has ever seen any reruns of the old “Dobie Gillis” show to recall how Maynard G. Krebs reacted whenever he heard that word, and you’ll have an idea of how the old Republicans reacted to their new status. Or, you could remember Mad Magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman, but instead of “What! Me worry?”, think “What! Me work? How preposterous!”
Because they were now in the majority, the Republican old bulls were actually going to have to chair committees, preside over hearings, and do all of the other things majorityship implies and requires. And they didn’t like it one little bit. They were going to have to get up out of those cushy easy chairs, which had so comfortably and lovingly cradled their ample posteriors for so many years — that they had formerly vacated only when necessary to cast the occasional vote and pick up their paychecks — and actually do some work. What an utterly ridiculous idea! So, first chance they got, after the Democrats had ginned up artificial media outrage over Newt’s legitimate book deal, they, metaphorically speaking, threw old Newt out on his (own ample) butt. They showed him, by golly. Served him right. What was he ever thinking? Now back to those easy chairs. Let the Dems run the place. After all, they were used to it and actually wanted the job, so let them have it.
Republicans went on to later take the Senate and, when George Bush was elected in 2000, Republicans controlled, for the first time in recent history, both houses of Congress and the presidency. This was a historic opportunity for Republicans to advance their own agenda and pull back from recent steps toward socialism. Now I ask you to pause for a second and reflect upon the kinds of people to whom the reigns of power had been handed — the Rockefeller Lear Jet-jockeying country club old bulls whose only ambition was to occupy space until they chose to retire.
Well, you know what happened. The opportunity was squandered. They continued to let the Democrats run Congress, or at least it seemed that they did, and they actually managed to out spend the previous Democratic congress. And all the while (the few) congressional conservatives, who represented the largest single constituency in America, could only stand on the sidelines and gnash their teeth at what was happening. So how did the Republican president respond to the congressional spending orgy? Why, he just signed every single spending bill that they sent his way and even came up with one of his own. The man did not even pick up a veto pen until seven years into his presidency. As to whether he even knew what a veto was prior to then, we can only guess.
So, it’s really no mystery as to why Republicans lost the presidency and both houses of Congress in the last elections. I mean, if the Republicans are going to act like Democrats, then why not have the real thing? Makes sense to me and, apparently, it did to most everyone else. Especially since the alternative presidential candidate was just about the most liberal candidate that the Republicans could find. When the choice is Obama or Obama-lite, you can’t really blame people for picking Obama. The McCain candidacy was a complete joke, and, had he not chosen Sarah Palin, an apparent true conservative, as his running mate, he would have probably been blown all the way into political obscurity — a not altogether undesirable thing. Now only semi-obscure, McCain, like a bad penny, keeps popping up all to often.
And that’s why we are where we are today. Or my version anyway.