Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Case for a Republican Congressional Majority

Today's New York Sun editorial page looks at Republican accomplishments as the congressional majority. While the editors are critical of GOP spending profligacy and ethical lapses, and they recognize the considerable benefits of divided party control in Washington, they reject the claim that Republican rule has been a disaster:

On the contrary, the Republican controlled Congress has had remarkable achievements, too. Its tax cuts have spurred economic growth, low unemployment, and new highs in the stock market. The Senate's confirmation of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito have put the Supreme Court on a track to sensibility, a track that would make the Founders happy. Republicans have funded the war effort and, for the most part, given Mr. Bush the tools he needs to fight the war.

Some of the individual senators and congressmen up for reelection this year have made distinguished contributions. We think of Senator Santorum's heroic support for funding of the democratic opposition in Iran, of his extraordinary commitment to Israel and related issues, and of his comprehension of the enemy ideology we are facing as "Islamic fascism." Some Republicans have been anything but heroic — we think of Congressman Shays of Connecticut's support for the abridgment of the First Amendment in the name of campaign finance "reform" and of Senator Chafee, the Rhode Islander who betrayed the president over Ambassador Bolton and said two years ago that he wished he could vote for George H.W. Bush.

No concern about the weakness of the Republicans on the Hill, however, compares to problems that would be presented by a Democratic accession. Rep. Charles Rangel, while not quite the caricature leftist that he is sometimes portrayed as being, would use the Ways and Means chairmanship to reverse the Bush tax cuts and de-fund the war. Congressman Conyers, who has sponsored a bill to start an impeachment investigation against Mr. Bush, would chair the Judiciary Committee. A federal judge who was impeached in connection with accepting a bribe, Rep. Alcee Hastings, is a possible chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

In the upper chamber Senators Kennedy, Biden, and Levin would all end up with chairmanships, and the Bush administration would spend the next two years answering hostile questions from Congress instead of running the country and the war effort. As far as confirming Ambassador Bolton at the United Nations or another center-right Supreme Court justice, if the Democrats win, forget about it. Extensions of the Bush tax cuts would be non-starters, and the great expansion that has been enabled by the Bush policies would be in danger.

We'd like to think the American electorate will sort this out in favor of the Republicans. Mr. Bush would be able to claim victory even if his party loses seats, so long as it retains a bare majority in the House and Senate. And if, in the Senate, the balance ends up with Joseph Lieberman, elected as an independent by a healthy margin by the voters of Connecticut, well, partisans of a Bloomberg presidential run may gather encouragement. And the Democrats will be left to wrestle with the fact that they abandoned their most thoughtful, most principled senator over the fact that under what might be called the unwritten codicils of the American constitution, politics is supposed to stop at the water's edge — a principle that is never more valuable than in a time like now when our country is at war.

For my earlier posts and comments on the emerging congressional shake-up,
click here.

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