Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
January 22, 2006
POLITICS: Seeing Beyond Today
As some House Republicans campaign to oust their scandal-blemished GOP leadership team, they are facing an obstacle back home. It seems many voters could not care less.
I'm sure this is quite true: voters are perenially cynical about corruption, and few of them have the foggiest clue who Roy Blunt, John Boehner and John Shadegg are, or what they stand for.
Now. In January.
But anybody who takes this as a sign that nothing needs to be done doesn't know the first thing about the rythms of the political caldendar. What it really means is, there's still time to fix the problem. But once the Democrats start rolling out attack ads in September and October, it will be too late, and Republicans who don't have a good answer won't have time to do anything about it.
As for corruption as an issue: yes, there's no reason to think the Democrats would be any better. And everyone knows that lobbying reform, from either party, is a pointless farce, just like campaign finance reform. As long as people have huge financial incentives to redirect Washington's vast influence over taxes, spending and regulation, there will be corruption; as long as there is politics in money there will be money in politics. But for all of that, when the voting public thinks the incumbents are corrupt, its default assumption is to throw the bums out and start with some new bums.
Republicans may yet survive all of this anyway, of course. Many of the "corruption" charges are overblown; gerrymandering keeps many House seats permanently uncompetitive; and voters are far less likely to "throw the bums out" if the economy is doing well and the other side can't be trusted to deal with foreign policy crises. But only a fool would ignore the need and opportunity to inject new vigor and direction into the GOP House leadership and make a clean break with business as usual. John Boehner would be an improvement in that regard over Roy Blunt, and Shadegg would be a very significant improvement, which is why I - like many conservatives outside of elective office - am supporting Shadegg. While there's still time.