In her column on the ninety-eighth anniversary of the Gipper’s birth, Peggy Noonan heralded the new-found serioiusness of the Republicans:Â They hadn’t been this way in years!.Â She cautioned them not to get overconfident, to return their focus and not to “revert to the triumphalism of the Bush era, when they often got giddy and thick-necked and spiked the ball.”
Perhaps, they had become so giddy and thick-necked because when then-President Bush won re-election in 2004, increasing Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress, it was the first time in more than three-quarters of a century (since 1928) that Republicans retained control of the White House and both houses for two consecutive congresses.
in 2004, the then-senior Senators of Alaska and Virginia, Ted Stevens and John Warner, respectively, were the only incumbent Republicans in that chamber who had been alive the last time their party had so been returned to power.Â And back in 1928, Stevens was not yet 5 and Warner, at 21 months, just learning to talk.
Simply put, Republicans didn’t know what it was like to keep a majority at the executive and legislative level.
Now, that they have lost both, let us hope that they have learned their lesson.Â Should the GOP do well in ’10 and ’12, there will be numerous congressional Republicans who will know what it’s like to have held power and lost it, with others joining them who had observed this phenomenon from the sidelines.
In his latest blog post, Michael Barone touts polls showing Republicans doing well in a number of upcoming elections.Â Perhaps, this is because as voters witness the Democrats’ extravagence, they’re beginning to believe the GOP has learned its lessons.Â Â Or, at least hoping it has.