Memo to the GOP: Find a pile driver
By Mark Alexander
An authentic national leader addressed Congress last Tuesday.
Of course, it was not Barack Obama, nor was it House Speaker John Boehner or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
It has been six long years since anyone of "presidential stature" has addressed a joint session of Congress. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a warrior, statesman and Patriot, broke that losing streak last week and showed us what real leadership looks like. He was a welcome sight, and the contrast between this former commando and our "community organizer" was clearly on display.
Netanyahu's address elucidated Obama's distorted view of Islam and his deadly nuke "deal" with Iran amid the Middle East meltdown now underway. The Prime Minister made clear the regional threat posed if Iran obtains nuclear weapon capability, and, by extension, the threat of a catastrophic attack against the U.S. homeland if Iran provides Islamic Jihadis with those weapons.
Keep in mind that, according to Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, "Iran is [not only] a state sponsor of terrorism. Iran has killed more Americans than al-Qaida has through state sponsors, through their terrorist network Hezbollah." Netanyahu's remarks are a clarion wakeup call for all Americans.
Obama rebutted Netanyahu's remarks, saying, "[T]here was nothing new," adding, "What I can guarantee is that, if it's a deal I signed off on, I will be able to prove that it is the best way for us to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons."
Boehner presented Netanyahu with a bust of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, a fitting gift as the pair of statesmen are the only two world leaders who have delivered three addresses to Congress. (Recall that Obama returned a bust of Churchill to the UK shortly after he was elected.)
Ironically, Boehner's invitation to Netanyahu, which, despite reports to the contrary, the Prime Minister did not accept until Obama had been notified, demonstrated the speaker's boldest gesture of leadership since the 2014 midterm Republican wave.
So how is it that the prime minister of a Middle Eastern nation can so appositely demonstrate genuine leadership before our House and Senate when the GOP "leaders" of those two chambers fail to do so?
To answer that question, let's review.
A month ahead of the 2014 election, amid all the advance fanfare of the upcoming Republican rout, I posited this question: "GOP Senate Majority, then what??" While the midterm election proved an overwhelming referendum on Obama's failed domestic and foreign policies, it was also a referendum on Republican leadership.
A distinct voter pattern has emerged over the last four election cycles.
In 2008, Republicans lost the presidency and legislative seats when the national focal point was a moderate Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, who lacked any charismatic appeal and failed to energize a substantive grassroots campaign.
Chief among those consequences was the emergence of the grassroots Tea Party Movement ahead of the 2010 midterm election. That grassroots resurgence provided Republican gains of 63 House seats, six Senate seats and six governorships. At the time, Obama remarked that he'd taken a "shellacking."
The 2010 victory was an earned win by conservatives, but, regrettably, establishment Republican leaders in the House excluded the new conservatives from leadership positions. As a result, those gains were negated by fratricidal infighting and consequently the grassroots momentum stalled.
Thus, in 2012, Republicans lost the presidency and suffered lackluster legislative branch performance when the national focal point was a moderate Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, who failed to energize a substantive grassroots campaign. Thus, Obama duped voters into electing him for a second term.
In 2014, Republicans decimated Democrats in not only House and Senate races but notably in gubernatorial and statehouse elections across the nation. This was a deep win for Republicans and particularly conservatives.
Can you detect a pattern here? Will the GOP learn from that pattern ahead of the 2016 presidential campaign?
Of the 2014 gains, Charles Krauthammer noted, "[R]egaining the Senate would finally give the GOP the opportunity, going into 2016, to demonstrate its capacity to govern. ... [C]ontrolling both houses would allow the GOP to produce a compelling legislative agenda. ... If the president signs any of it, good. If he vetoes, it will be clarifying. Who then will be the party of no? The vetoed legislation would become the framework for a 2016 GOP platform."
Indeed, Republicans won a critical opportunity to contain the policy ambitions of the rogue Socialist Democrat regime now occupying the executive branch and its supporting cast in the House and Senate.
But producing a compelling legislative agenda will require outstanding leadership -- which neither McConnell nor Boehner demonstrate. As Peggy Noonan wrote, "It's good to win, but winning without a declared governing purpose is a ticket to nowhere. ... Republicans need to say what they're for."
The fact is both McConnell and Boehner fail to clearly articulate a unified governing purpose.
Despite a record number of genuine House and Senate conservatives, McConnell and Boehner have, once again, virtually excluded new conservatives from leadership positions.
Gaining the Senate majority and a historic GOP House majority may be for naught if not under spirited and principled new leadership.
Yes, a few House and Senate conservatives are making headway through social media outlets and leading conservative journals, but the current crop of GOP House and Senate leaders largely drown out those conservative voices. Consequently, the disconnect between the GOP and grassroots conservatives across the nation remains large.
But if this pattern plays out into 2016, the GOP presidential candidate (like House and Senate GOP candidates downstream) will have a very difficult contest against the Democrat ticket, especially if the Demos throw a curve ball like running a Clinton-Warren ticket. It's going to take more than the GOP's revitalized turnout machine magic to overcome the Demo hurdle in 2016 and beyond, especially when 80% of the Democrat base couldn't care less who the candidate is as long as they keep the "free stuff" flowing.
To win in 2016, it's going to take both leadership and a fearless message of conservative principles.
The question is this:
Do the current GOP potentates possess enough humility to make way for a new generation of conservative leaders -- those who will honor their oaths "to Support and Defend" our Constitution, who can clearly articulate our Founders' vision for Liberty "endowed by their Creator," who are committed to legislation that comports with that vision, and, moreover, will revitalize Ronald Reagan's proven model for restoration of Liberty?
The answer is this:
Unfortunately, McConnell and Boehner have been seduced by the allure of power and reduced to unmitigated arrogance. As Lord Acton observed in 1887, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." As a large contingent of real conservatives wait in the wings, the concentric power circles that protect the positions of McConnell and Boehner remain impenetrable.
In Federalist No. 10, James Madison cautioned, "Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm." There is certainly a dearth of such statesmen today.
In 1919, Winston Churchill wrote, "If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time -- a tremendous whack."
Likewise, Ronald Reagan declared, "A leader, once convinced a particular course of action is the right one, must have the determination to stick with it and be undaunted when the going gets rough."
Clearly, Churchill and Reagan, like Benjamin Netanyahu, were such leaders.
However, the current GOP leaders have demonstrated neither a clear course of action nor the determination to stick with such action. McConnell, though he has a conservative voting record, has exactly no charismatic appeal. As for Boehner, his voting record is moderate, and any charisma he once had is now masked behind a smoke-choked alcoholic veil. (Am I the only political observer in America who believes Boehner has not been sober since 2010?)
As my friend, Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint, observed, "The phrase I heard most often from Republican leadership while serving in the House and Senate was, 'This is not the right time to have this fight.' Whether the issue was balancing the budget, school choice, patient-driven healthcare, eliminating earmarks, raising the debt limit, ending big, crony handouts like the Export-Import Bank or any stand against the continued growth, favoritism and intrusion of big government, conservatives were always told to wait. Wait until conservatives have the majority. Wait until we have the White House. Wait until we are reelected."
Jim insists Republicans should take a stand, and ask themselves, "If not us, who? If not now, when?" Likewise, I ask again, "GOP majorities -- now what?"
Mark Alexander is the executive editor of the Patriot Post.