Saturday, October 29, 2005

Half Full [Kristol] or Half Empty [Lahood] ?

Cong. Ray LaHood [R-Peoria, 18th Dist.], about whom his critics would say, “Finds a cloud in every silver lining,” was portrayed as suffering from clinical depression yesterday after learning of Scooter Libby’s [the VPOTUS’ Chief of Staff] indictment. LaHood said, “There's no good in it for our party. Anyone who says otherwise is blowing smoke. Democrats will be salivating." [See here].

As LaHood suggests, the Libby indictment fits nicely with the Democrats’ plans to nationalize the ’06 Congressional elections around their argument that the national Republican Party suffers from a “Culture of corruption.” See this week’s suburban edition of "Public Affairs," with Cong. Jan Schakowsky [D-Evanston, 9th CD], who is trumpeting that argument, among others, as she campaigns to become Vice Chairman, the No. 4 leadership position in the House Democratic Caucus [a vacancy which will materialize in short order if Senator Corzine [D-NJ] wins the gubernatorial election in New Jersey in 10 days and Cong. Menendez, the current Chairman, is appointed to be New Jersey’s junior Senator, and replaced in the Democratic House Leadership by the current No. 4, See here.]

But, then there is the sunny side of the Republican Party, represented by Bill Kristol’s unflagging enthusiasm and optimism for intelligent, conservative programs, ideals and politicians [although Kristol did support John McCain for President in 2000, and Senator McGain is a quasi-conservative, at best; Kristol is the Editor of the Weekly Standard , a Fox News Channel contributor and one of the leaders of the successful movement to pressure Harriet Miers to withdraw her name as the Supreme Court nominee]:

The larger story on Friday was that [Special Prosecutor and U. S. Attorney Patrick] Fitzgerald indicted no one else…There was no conspiracy, high level or otherwise, at the White House, or involving the Defense Department or the State Department--all scenarios that enemies of the administration had been fantasizing about for months.

This does not mean, of course, that the Bush White House and its supporters should heave a sigh of relief and relax. It does mean that the administration and its allies have a chance now to go on the offensive: to make the tax cuts permanent, to look for occasions to insist on spending restraint, to make progress in restoring constitutional jurisprudence, and above all to make strides toward winning the war in Iraq, and the broader war on terror.[See here].

So, should the Republicans hold their heads in their hands and sob? Or, should they say the worst [a lethargic Presidential Reaction to Katrina, Brownie’s incompetence at FEMA, the indictment of House Majority Leader Tom Delay, Harriet Miers’ misguided nomination to the Supremes and the charges filed against Scooter Libby] is behind them and get ready to take the next hill?

Neo-con and conservative idea man Bill Kristol says, “Let’s go on offense and take that next hill.” Cong. Ray LaHood, who former Senator Peter Fitzgerald [R-IL] was fond of referring to as “Ray who,” doesn’t seem inclined to join Bill, as Bill gets ready to take on the likes of Cong. Schakowsky and her fearless minority leader, Cong. Nancy Pelosi [D-CA].

Will others pick up arms and join Bill Kristol in going on the offensive? Or, will they hang back with Cong. LaHood, who was one of three Republicans in the House to vote against the Contract with America, a document which most would agree was instrumental in bringing about the Republican Revolution in 1994 that allowed the Republicans to pick up 54 seats and gain the House Majority. LaHood was and is still mentored by former long-time House Minority Leader Bob Michel [R-IL], a leader who many Republicans thought had became too comfortable with his role as a minority leader, and who stepped aside when Cong. Newt Gingrich brought the House Republicans to the Promised land and became their Speaker.

So, the question is does Speaker Dennis Hastert have the fire in his belly to take on this fight with Minority Leader Pelosi and her energetic leadership team. First, he needs to try to put together a team that is clued into what Kristol is saying and knows how to take the fight to their loyal opposition. It is clear that Tom “ the Hammer,” Delay is otherwise occupied and new Majority Leader Blunt [R-MO] is not the right person for the job, as I told the Speaker a month ago [See here]. The first thing the Speaker needs to do is is find a good recruiter. Time's a wasting.
Jeff Berkowitz, Host and Producer of Public Affairs and an Executive Recruiter doing Legal Search, can be reached at