Thursday, November 16, 2006

A governing coalition

Newt Gingrich, Former Speaker of the House, and the architect of the Republican takeover in 1994, urges Pres. Bush to avoid his father's mistake and take a page out of the Reagan playbook. The choice for the President is to follow an "establishment bipartisanship" to enact incremental legislation that the liberal leaders of the House and Senate will accept, or to go around them and forge a "conservative bipartisanship" by reaching out to the moderates that the Democratic majority relied upon to take back the House and Senate. Gingrich doesn't mention Pres. Bush I, but he worked on an establishment bipartisanship approach. Pres. Reagan did not.

If President Bush decides to govern as President Reagan did, he will work to unify the Blue Dog Democrats with the Republicans to win a handful of very large victories while accepting a constant barrage of unhappiness from the liberal leadership. That is what conservative bipartisanship is like. If on the other hand, President Bush decides on an establishment strategy of cooperating with the liberal leadership, he will guarantee splitting his own party and will see his legacy drift further and further to the left as the Pelosi-Reid wing of their party demands more and more concessions.

This choice of which strategy to follow domestically has an enormous implication for national security. A liberal coalition will focus narrowly on Iraq and seek to avoid thinking about the scale of threat we face internationally. A conservative bipartisan coalition will look first to the larger threat to American security and will then seek to find solutions in Iraq to strengthen American security. It is hard to see how a liberal coalition will be able to look at the larger threats to our safety, even when the threat, articulated in this warning by Vice Admiral Patrick Walsh, is clear: "What we are talking about today is an ideology that thrives on murder, intimidation and fear. It puts innocent people at risk, particularly those in open societies. What we are talking about are people who worship death itself."

For a Republican, following the establishment bipartisanship approach is a blueprint for a failed presidency.

No comments: