Byron York, a conservative journalist at the *Washington Examiner* heard from a Senate Republican staffer last night, who reflected on the House GOP. “They are a majority party that wants to be a minority party,” the aide said.
The comment struck me as one of the more interesting insights of the last couple of weeks. There is such a thing as a governing party. It just so happens that today’s Republican Party isn’t one of them.
Josh Barro, a great political writer and self-described Republican, had a great item noting the surprise among some political reporters about yesterday’s fiasco on Capitol Hill. “The only stunning thing is that anyone still looks at House Republicans and says: ‘You know what would be great? Giving these people more power over public policy,’” he wrote.
There is no serious argument for Republican governance right now, even if you prefer conservative policies over liberal ones. These people are just too dangerously incompetent to be trusted with power.A party that is this bad at tactics can’t be expected to be any good at policy-making.
After praising some GOP governors, Barro concluded that congressional Republicans “cannot be trusted with power.”
This is not an uncommon assessment. David Brooks wrote a column two years ago, the first time Republicans took the debt ceiling hostage, arguing at the time the Republican Party “may no longer be a normal party” and are not “fit to govern.” A few weeks ago, Jon Favreau used similar language.
Looking back to 2009 and 2010, Republican lawmakers were actually an excellent minority party. Freed from meaningful policy responsibilities, GOP officials could focus on their strengths: criticizing Democrats, generating grassroots support for their positions, attacking progressive ideas, etc.
Indeed, before the 2010 midterms, Republicans excelled in what seemed like a natural habitat for them – Republicans weren’t asked to solve problems; they were asked to condemn Democratic attempts to solve problems. Everyone in Washington seemed to be in their relative comfort zones.
What Republicans seemed to forget, however, is that governing requires an entirely different skill set – and legislating isn’t really in the GOP’s wheelhouse right now.
“They are a majority party that wants to be a minority party.”
Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) added yesterday, “This party is going nuts.” That seems like a fair assessment, though it’s easier for the nation to deal with a party that’s “going nuts” when it’s not also in control of an important part of the federal government.