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A party without grown-ups

I don't have much to say about Doug Holtz-Eakin building a conservative answer to the Center for American Progress (which was, in turn, a liberal answer to the Heritage Foundation), but one difference between the two is instructive. The Center for American Progress's influence springs from its founder, John Podesta, whose earlier service as chief of staff to Bill Clinton offered minority Democrats intellectual and political continuity with a government they regarded as largely successful. That gave Podesta a certain authority, and it gave his project a certain mission: Learning to marry good policy to the sort of messaging operation that Clinton's team felt they lacked.

Doug Holtz-Eakin, by contrast, served in the Bush administration for a year or two, but he really made his name as head of the independent Congressional Budget Office, and then as John McCain's chief policy adviser. That is to say, it's not really clear what strain of conservatism Holtz-Eakin represents, or what exactly the mission is. The Republican Party is operating without a clear model for successful Republican governance. George W. Bush was a failure and his father was a heretic. Ronald Reagan's staffers are now too old. John Boehner is no Newt Gingrich and Mitch McConnell is no Bob Dole. There are no grown-ups, nor anyone who looks capable of growing up. This'll be a bigger problem than people realize when Republicans retake power.

By Ezra Klein  |  February 4, 2010; 3:34 PM ET
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EZRA!! You forgot the lovely Mrs. Sarah! Oh, I guess that proves your point. Never mind.

Posted by: wendellbell | February 4, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Since only fools make long-term predictions, I presume you're prediction that the GOP will retake power is for the short-term, in other words, 2010 and maybe 2012.

Thus, you are apparently not simply predicting the GOP will make gains in 2010, but rather, they will without doubt take over the House and/or the Senate and/or the White House?

If so, I guess we should prepare for endless Congressional investigations of Obama (citizenship? socialist traitor? etc) and even an impeachment.

I wonder if the Dems up for re-election will remind everyone that if we elect Republicans, we can expect all of the above (not to mention more debt and more war)?

Posted by: Lomillialor | February 4, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

What kind of white paper will they issue, one with the words "Its the people's money" or "Government is the problem" written 1,000 times in a row?

They already have all the think tank they need: the US Chamber of Commerce.

Posted by: zeppelin003 | February 4, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

What an absurd column. Go eat a carrot.

Posted by: popopo | February 4, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

I live in Texas and I can tell you that we suffer as state due to the lack of grown ups in our Republican led govenment. We are suffering with ridiculous arguements over social studies curiculum while our schools are ranked 47th in SAT scores. Our healthcare system is ranked near the bottom. Meanwhile our governor and our Senators brag about how great our state is and blame each other for spending money...My question is what are they spending money isn't the people of Texas!

Posted by: lnstarmom | February 4, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Instarmom, what are you talking about?

People are moving into Texas at a greater rate than almost any other state because Texas is one of the few states that have available jobs. In case you don't get out much, there are problems in every state in the union. Everything is relative, and relatively speaking, Texas is in a superior position to most other states.

It is too bad that it takes someone who doesn't live in Texas to inform you of this basic economic fact.

Posted by: lancediverson | February 4, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Isn't this all kind of a waste of money? Why start up another conservative think tank when you already have the Heritage Foundation and AEI? This seems like a misallocation of resources and duplication of work.

Posted by: constans | February 4, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

All Republicans seem grown up in comparison to the crooks and whackos running the Democratic party.

When Joe Biden proved himself wrong by voting to block George Bush Sr from kicking Saddam out of Kuwait, voting for leting Bush W. Jr from invading Iraq, and then voting to stop the Bush-McCain surge that salvaged a fragile Iraqi democracy ravaged by Bin Laden protoge Zarquawi, every one in the Democratic part called him a foreign policy expert.

Despite persuading Bill Clinton to pardon unrepentant FALN Terrorists, Obama didn't blink to name Eric Holder to head up his DOJ and his first act was to begin investigating the brave CIA Agenst responsible for getting KSM to turn.

And of course we have the inept 1-term Senate radical from Illinoise picked as the answer to heal the nation's wounds from electing an inexperienced Republican ideologue.

It just goes to show what passes for competence in the Democratic party.

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | February 4, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, I think a lot of us realize this all too well -- we do remember the previous President. But perhaps majorities will have forgotten ... heaven help the USA when the whining two-year olds take over the empire again.

Posted by: janinsanfran | February 4, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

As a conservative Republican and faithful reader of your blog, I reluctantly agree with you.

You did on the other hand just interview Congressman Ryan. He was an adult, no?

Posted by: panza2mil | February 4, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

panza2mil, Ryan is the exception that proves the rule (man, I really hate that phrase). There aren't any Ryan Republicans starting expensive think tanks, hosting high-rated political shows, let alone running the Republican party in one of the houses of Congress.

FastEddie007, even if everything you said were true, and I'm not granting that premise, the question isn't competency, it's whether the leaders of the party are adults. I could think of arguments that some decisions made by a particular Dem may show a lack of competence, at least in that instance. That doesn't change the fact that the National Republican Party is filled with children who don't care for governing or addressing the problems we face in a serious manner.

Posted by: MosBen | February 4, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse


I appreciate your civility in this response...more civility than I probably deserve given by to-the-point attack.

I agree with you distinctions, but I think you analysis is based on the premise that YOUR priorities and values are the absolute!

Lets assume both Republicans and Democrats are honest but have different values and priorities.

My values is that the number one priority of our federal government is to be the champion of human freedom in the world. My biggest fears is that United States embark on an unsustainable path and that we lose our power in the world---yielding to the depostic valueless regimes of China & Russia, and perhaps to a lesser extent that more ferocious but less comprehensive threats of Iran or Al Qaeda.

With that value and priority I see Democrats as all children (except maybe Lieberman and a few others) while I see most Republicans as adults---even a ex-Gov from Alaska whose first hand experience is with more domestic issues.

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | February 4, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Rahm Emanuel, a guy who screams "#@#@ r-tards is a grownup? A president who wears a baseball cap with the brim turned backward is a grownup? And carries around a basketball?

Posted by: truck1 | February 4, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

*And carries around a basketball? *

Quite so, truck1! Unlike that manchild Obama, grownups like myself have always retained valets to carry around our basketballs for us. To see Obama do it himself-- by jove it's uncivilized! Next thing you know we shall be eating ice cream in public!

Posted by: tyromania | February 5, 2010 1:04 AM | Report abuse

My question is why does it make sense for the republicans to even show up? Can they be compelled to appear? If the Republicans narrative goes like this, "We would love to participate but the president has made it clear that the essence of the current legislation is off the table. There is nothing to negotiate." Why wouldn't that resonate with voters. I would like to see the polling data that suggests Americans favor the current proposed legislation.

Posted by: FatTriplet3 | February 8, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Ryan is about the only grown-up in the party, actually in either party. You can't be truly grown up unless you are willing to discuss fiscal responsibility and entitlement reform. Ryan has a reasonable plan that would restore the solvency of the federal government. Obama paid lip service to it during the showdown with the republicans and then his administration spent the next week savaging it.

Posted by: FatTriplet3 | February 8, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

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