The eager band of volunteers standing in the lobby of the Washington Hilton as the Republican National Committee winter meeting rolled into its second day made for a strange sight Thursday afternoon. One part Wal-Mart greeters to two parts Alex P. Keaton, they wore the sartorial train wreck that has become the unofficial uniform of young Washington apparatchiks trying to look "grassroots": a T-shirt, in this case bright blue, over a button-down shirt and dress slacks. "The comeback starts now!" their T-shirts declared. [snip]Don't you ever change, GOP! Seriously. You've surely got the recipe for success right there. I mean, just look at all the red on this map:
That's the state to which the Republican Party has been reduced -- a tiny knot of true believers engaged in a cutthroat battle to win a majority of the GOP's 168 national committee members. It's a voting population so small it makes student government elections seem complicated by comparison. And it's also a very narrow demographic, with a unique, perhaps eccentric, view of the world. If the mood and the speeches at the winter meeting are any guide, Republicans are seeking refuge from electoral defeat in an alternate reality, one where the public still loves them -- or would if they could only improve their sales pitch. And where going along with President Obama's agenda just isn't in the cards.
To the Republican base, and the members gathered at the Hilton, the House GOP's unanimous, losing vote against an economic stimulus bill on Wednesday wasn't a Bronx cheer aimed at a popular new president, but rather a heroic stand on behalf of the American public. Playing to the hardcore grass roots, the party's leaders made clear Thursday that they plan to stick to their new formula, the one they think will lead them back from the wilderness -- even if it sounds pretty similar to the one that got them there in the first place.
Yeah, baby! That's like totally a center-right nation that will rise up and applaud your obstructionism as what's left of the economy gets flushed down the sewers. You just stand up to that nasty ol' socialist Obama. Let the voters know who's watching out for their interests:
Duncan, for his part, said Republicans were "in a position of strength today."I do believe some aides de memoire can be arranged. If we don't let the voters forget what you've done for them, you'll probably take your five remaining states by storm!
"The Democrats mean to use this opportunity of unchallenged power to explode the size and scope of the federal government, to take control of entire sectors of our economy, to crush the conservative opposition through parliamentary procedure and redistricting," he told RNC members, winning applause. "The goal is to indoctrinate a generation of American children to the gentle comforts of the nanny state ... The only thing standing between their agenda and success is the Republican Party."That is, of course, exactly what Democrats want voters to remember when they go to the polls in 2010 -- that the Republicans' first instinct was to stand between Obama's agenda and success.