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What are Republicans afraid of?

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and I are in complete agreement. Republicans should not simply ride a wave of voter anger and discontent without offering an alternative vision in the hope that it crashes them into the offices of the speaker of the House or the senate majority leader. But as Post writers Karen Tumulty and Paul Kane reported over the weekend, there are some GOP consultants out there who are advising just that.

"The smart political approach would be to make the election about the Democrats," said Neil Newhouse of the powerhouse Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies, which is advising more than 50 House and Senate candidates. "In terms of our individual campaigns, I don't think it does a great deal of good" to engage in a debate over the Republicans' own agenda."

"Consultants, in my opinion, are stupid," Gingrich told Tumulty and Kane. "The least idea-oriented, most mindless campaign of simplistic slogans is a mindless idea." And yet consultants who peddle such mindlessness are legion and contribute to the culture of fear in American politics. Fear, that is, of taking hard stands on tough issues in case you are attacked.

This was on full display on “Meet the Press” yesterday when moderator David Gregory repeatedly asked Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee to articulate the Republican agenda to counter the Democrats.

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“If Republicans do get back into power,” Gregory asked, “what are they going to do?” Sessions insisted that the American people know what the Republicans stand for, which included two points: 1. “We have to live within our own means”; 2. “We need to make sure that we read the bills.” Gregory interrupted this painful bit of non-answering with a pithy putdown, “But, congressman, that’s a pretty gauzy agenda so far.” Indeed. And it doesn’t give much hope that anything more concrete or credible will come out of the GOP’s “America Speaking Out” exercise.

“They will have to take positions instead of just give grief,” wrote New York Times columnist Charles Blow’s Saturday column about the nascent Republican presidential field for 2012. “They will have to develop a plan instead of simply picking apart Obama’s.” That same critique applies to Republicans running in this November’s elections.

To ask voters to cast ballots for Republicans on blind faith is an insult to them. Americans are angry, frustrated, fearful and desperate for real answers and solutions to their very real problems. My only fear is that people are SO angry that the current GOP tactic of doing nothing and saying less just might work.

By Jonathan Capehart  | July 19, 2010; 6:48 AM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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I share your fear. Offering an actual idea or program in today's atmosphere is to invite not just criticism, but destruction. Platitudes and violent slogans seem to be what the current political climate demands--and that is frightening indeed.

Posted by: MaineWoman | July 19, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I don't get it. Hearing a republican politician this weekend say that Bush tax cuts don't need to be paid for just sort of blows my mind. Same for the tea party folks that are crying about taxes. Who want's more taxes? However, the Bush tax cuts have helped drive the deficit off a cliff. I even voted for the guy the first time as well as Reagan twice. I thought Bush was a republican. Has anyone else noticed that very few of the tea party folks appear to earn over $200,000 so that they wouldn't be affected by Obama's tax plan anyway? Most of the ones that I've seen look like their IRA's were trashed along with Grandma and Grandpa's. Newt is right. Being the party of "no" is just stupid. I think a lot of the tea party anger is related to almost all politicians failure to take their responsibility toward our country seriously. I knew the republican party was doomed when they re-elected the same leadership that drove them into the ditch. Now that was truly stupid!

Posted by: Fergie303 | July 19, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Today's political environment is as much about gaining and keeping power, as policy.
Bipartisanship is not rewarded. Honest political disagreements are reviled. Motives are disparaged.

We have received the government we deserve.

Posted by: slatt321 | July 19, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

What was blinder faith than electing a coked out President that never held a job in his life? The guy simply cannot talk without uh-uh-uh-uh while he tries to express his addled thoughts. What will Republicans do when they get back in? UN-do EVERYTHING the Democrats have installed and passed the last 5 years (thought we forgot Pelosi's Democrat majority has been up there screwing up the works since 2006, didn't you?). What can't be repealed will be de-funded. Then, under responsible Republican leadership, we'll bolster business, companies will hire again, and the world will be right once again. This recession started with Pelosi and Reid in the majority in 2006. They undermined and drove the economy and business into the dirt, blamed it on Bush (who was lame duck from 2006) and people thought, on utter, stupid, blind faith that Obama would fix everything. Gee, turns out he's not even Jimmy Carter. He's just a nobody, an empty suit with no ideals other than installing a socialist system, tearing down the things that make us exceptional and of course taking as many plane trips and throwing as many parties as he can while he's here. The Air Force should cut Obama another paycheck for his frequent-flyer miles. If Obama doesn't want to be in Washington, why on earth did he run for President? No luxury, no expense is too great for what the Democrats shaft us for in terms of their comforts. Time for them to go, and SOON.

Posted by: JamesChristian | July 19, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

If the GOP gets to take over, they will spend the next 2 years blaming the Democrats for everything that goes wrong under their leadership. It will not be their lack of ideas that will matter but rather the past existence of a Democratic leadership that will be at fault for all the failings of the GOP's lack of a glimmer of any solutions to America's problems.

Not having a clue how to solve problems is the hallmark of GOP governance. Deficits will grow, unemployement will rise and it will all be the fault of the Democrats.

As we all know Republicans are utterly blameless no matter what happens. Its all the fault of teh Democrats.

Any party facing a future surplus that manages to end its reign with a massive deficit and still claims to be fiscally responsible should taken out and shot.

Posted by: palnicki | July 19, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

I started voted for Republicans in 1972. I quit voting for Republicans in 2004. These two empty suits are a good example of why. If we put them back into power, H.L Mencken will once again be correct. "No on...has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people."

Posted by: bwgunia | July 19, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Has any republican administration ever balanced a budget? When? In which country?

Posted by: palnicki | July 19, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Has any republican administration ever balanced a budget? When? In which country?

Posted by: palnicki | July 19, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

So let's see. We have a president who ran on the very concrete platform of "hope and change".

yet the liberal media guys want specificity from Republicans.

OK, I get it.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | July 19, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse


IGNORANT COMMENTS & bigoted/ARROGANT NONSENSE do NOT magically become "intelligent discourse", by being repeated.

the FACT is that, based solely on your SILLY/fact-FREE posts on WP/PostPartisan, your best five years of school were Third Grade.

yours, TN46

Posted by: texasnative46 | July 20, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Mr Capehart,

i can tell you what the GOP leadership is afraid of. ======> it's US, the TEA PARTY PATRIOTS, as they CORRECTLY fear that we're going to do the same to the GOP in 2012, that we will do to the DIMocRATS on NOV 2.

first we TPP are going to vote OUT the DIMocRATS like Harry Reid, Barbra Boxer, Blanche Lincoln & a whole pack of DIMocRAT congress-critters in the HoR. THEN we will turn our sights on BHO, the rest of the DIMocRATS & the RINOs in 2012.

the bottom line is: we of the TEA PARTY are going to take OUR nation back from the DIMs, the RINOs, the officious/UNelected bureaucrats
within 4-8 years we will restore the USA to the FREE republic that most of us older Americans fondly remember.

fwiw, PLEASE continue to HATE the TP, "dismiss us" & underestimate us as a "bunch of rednecks,Bible-thumpers, old fogies & angry gun-toters", as that only ANGERS more Americans & sends the MIDDLE of the electorate into our ranks.

at our current rate of growth, by NOV of this year, we will have MOST of the INDEPENDENTS, the MODERATE democrats & the rightists as members.- by 2012, NOBODY but the EXTREMIST/statist/lunatic LEFT will be willing to support the DIMocRATS for ANY office.

yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | July 20, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

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