After seeing the news this afternoon about US Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham resigning as the result of a bribery scandal, it reminded me of a great article in Sunday’s Washington Post Opinion Section.
The GOP And The Sandbox – WaPo Opinion Column by Douglas MacKinnon
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(GP Editor’s Note — Douglas MacKinnon is identified in the article as the former press secretary to former Senator Bob Dole. He is also a former White House and Pentagon official, and an author.)
The subhead to the column is “I Wonder Where My Party’s Headed.” I couldn’t agree more. But let me provide some of Mr. MacKinnon’s best arguments.
For Republicans, all the intense, newfound focus on Iraq that the Democrats and some in the media are avidly promoting is coupled with a sharp rise in partisanship and both real and politically motivated ethics problems in the GOP (I consider the questions facing former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to be mostly politically motivated, while those surrounding lobbyist Jack Abramoff and Reps. Randy “Duke” Cunningham and Rob Ney are very troublesome). And it raises a critical set of questions: “Who are we, what have we become, and what do we, as a party, stand for?”
For while it takes two parties to govern — or embarrass themselves — it is the Republicans who control the White House and the Congress and thus have the greater burden to lead. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way we seem to have lost vision, belief in our platform and a commitment to higher ethics.
Since 1994, when Newt Gingrich led the revolution that gave us our first House majority in 40 years, Republicans have sold the American people on the premise that we are the party of national defense, character, morality and ethics. But that premise is getting tougher to defend with each passing day.
If these Republicans abandon the president because of their own worries, then the damage to the nation and to the Republican Party will be incalculable. We will have squandered any chance of democracy in Iraq, and potentially large parts of the Middle East. This is something that many Americans — and more Republicans — will not soon forget.
Instead of turning Congress into a sandbox, leaders of both parties should demand serious and extended debate over the war. While there is clearly no support, even among Democrats, for Murtha’s call to bring the troops home, there is also very clearly no coherent strategy for the future of the war coming out of Congress. Many members still refuse to be held accountable for their votes on it.
Enough with the name-calling, charges and counter-charges. Forget how we got there and focus on how we can and must prevail. The least that members of Congress and the administration can give our troops is a dignified and serious reflection on why they have put our soldiers in harm’s way. Both parties are in trouble at the moment. And Republicans have the most to lose.
Events like today’s Cunningham resignation and other recent scandals are not pillars of the Republican Party that I want to be a part of. They are instead the seeds of power and deceit that brought down the Democrats’ 40 year reign over the US House in 1994.
Governing responsibly is a lot different than campaigning from the minority position. The only saving grace Republican leaders have now is that the Democrats look more shrill and childlike every day. It is unfortunate that our elected leaders are helping demean our democracy brick-by-brick and in many ways are having a longer term impact than Osama’s plan did on 9/11. We are all responsible for our elected officials’ actions and we all need to call them on the carpet.
[Related Story — Charging Rhino suggests some punishment options for Rep. Cunningham]
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