Finding the soul of the new Republican party

The Grand Olde Party got its head handed to it last night. Any other interpretations are deluded, foolish, or otherwise stupid.
So, the obvious course of action is for the GOP to spend a few days — oh, a week at most — performing a perfunctory survey of the warm bodies closest to their leadership seats, and immediately anoint one of them to be the new face of the Republican Party. That’s the great thing about leadership elections, you know — no need to actually consult anyone resembling the actual rank-and-file of the Party. No need to actually consult the people who give the money, who work the campaigns, who actually, ‘ya know, cast the votes to keep a party in power. Or — who don’t.
Wrong. Very wrong. Amazingly, stupendously, staggeringly and absurdly wrong.
The reality of November 8, 2006 is that the Republican party no longer has control of the agenda in Congress. And yes, that includes the Senate — it’s over. The GOP doesn’t get to decide what bills will come to the floor. The GOP won’t control committees; it won’t control legislation. There is one, and only one, major decision that the Republicans have to make right now to influence how the next two years go — and that is who the party will choose to be their leaders.
This is a huge decision, and it is not one that should be rushed. Historically, however, it is a decision that has been taken behind closed doors, made by the Congressional members themselves without any whiff of input from the actual rank-and-file of their Party.
This past January, however, that changed. In the last House leadership election, the process opened up — just a little bit — when bloggers interviewed all three candidates for the GOP Majority Leader post in the House. The audio and transcripts of those interviews can be found here (please pardon the old TTLB template, and enjoy the ‘classic’ page header).
And now, the GOP faces a new leadership election. In the House, and almost certainly, in the Senate as well.
As Hugh Hewitt noted today, bloggers are now organizing in the hope that we can have a voice in this new fight. We want the potential candidates to step up to the plate and answer questions from the people that they will be, in the truest sense of the word, representing.
I don’t claim to speak for right-leaning bloggers as a whole; I speak only for myself. But if you ask me, the imperative right now for the GOP is clear: to slow the heck down, and to take the time necessary to consult with the true grassroots of the party to find the absolute best leadership team possible that will lead the GOP back into majority in 2008.
If you’re a blogger — or even if you’re not — and you want a voice in the leadership elections, add a comment here, or drop me an email directly.
The election is over. The fight for the heart of the Republican party is just beginning…
UPDATE: I’ve set up a page to solicit questions to be asked of the potential leadership candidates. If you want to make your voice heard, click over here and submit the questions you want to have answered!

Gates as SecDef: Whither Iran?

Listening to Hugh‘s discussion with Christopher Hitchens today (audio sure to be here shortly), Hitch brought up the fact that Robert Gates was a key architect of a paper with President Carter’s national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski which advocated (in Hitch’s words) “making nice with the mullahs”.
Being a primary-source kinda guy, I went looking for the paper online, and sure enough, here it is. From the executive summary:
Rejecting the conventional wisdom that Iran is on the verge of another revolution, the report calls for the United States to reassess its long-standing policy of non-engagement with the current Iranian government…
Hmmm. Sounds suspiciously like making nice to me. Haven’t read the whole thing yet, but I suggest we all should do so…

On Kerry

Why are some folks being so sensitive about Kerry’s remarks — and why are they right to be so?
The key phrase we’re looking for here is “never again”. If people like Kerry — and indeed Kerry himself — had not been responsible for destroying the morale and reputation of the American military after Vietnam, we wouldn’t have to be sensitive to jokes like his failed one. But they did, and we do, because we absolutely cannot allow what happened to the soldiers of that era to begin happening to those of ours.
And the source here matters. If John McCain had made Kerry’s remarks, we’d be astounded, but McCain’s history would argue in his favor and we’d grant him the benefit of the doubt. But Kerry’s history does the opposite: his past exploits and efforts to drag the reputation of American soldiers through the mud are absolutely relevant and mean he doesn’t get to pretend that nobody could ever think he’d say something denigrating about the military. If you’ve never been known to raise your hand in anger towards a woman, you can crack a joke about beating your wife and get away with it (even if you shouldn’t). But if you’ve got a history of beating your wife, you don’t get to make jokes about beating your wife without bringing the full weight of society’s suspicion and opprobrium down on you.
Just as the “rough men” (and women) of our armed forces stand on the wall to protect our safety, ready to do (physical) violence on our behalf, people like Hugh, and Glenn, and Michelle, and yes, me, must stand on the wall of words and be ready to do literary and verbal violence on their behalf. It is a far less hazardous duty, but nonetheless a necessary one. And it is the least we can do.
To do something more, however, remember Project Valour-IT’s fundraiser: and give as much as you can to help them provide voice-activated laptops to soldiers whose injuries prevent them from full use of their hands: