A Guide to Republican Reform Rhetoric

 This should help you evaluate the rhetoric you hear from Republicans as they dicker over the future of the Republican Party.

  1. [BAD] Bargaining: "If you return us to power, we'll stop the Democrats!  And behave better!" 

  2. [INADEQUATE] Apology: "We've learned our lesson"; "We lost our way."; "We need to return to principles."; "You can tell we've learned because we're voting against Democrats!"

  3. [GOOD] Repentance: "I was wrong to [fill in the blank with specific votes, decisions and opinions], because [fill in blank with specific reason] and I pledge not to do that again."

  4. [BETTER] Acceptance: "You have absolutely no reason, none, to trust our word or our actions at this point." - RNC Chairman Michael Steele, acknowledging the Republican Party's failures, lack of credibility and responsibility for same.

  5. [BEST] Reform: "We abused the power we were given, and we should not be trusted with the majority again until we have taken steps to reform ourselves.  To that end, we are unilaterally adopting transparency, ethics and procedural rules for the Congressional Republican Caucuses.  What's more, the RNC, NRSC and NRCC are adopting strict accounting rules to protect donations and expenditures, and strict communications accountability rules, including disclosure of evidence for independent review and verification, that will ensure the integrity and accuracy of any message we communicate to the public.  We hope the Democrats will join us in these reforms, but we will not wait for them to act before we get our own house in order.

If Republicans still believe in Trust, but Verify, then rebuilding the Republican Party does not begin until Republicans make real progress on step #5.

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Skirting around the #1 issue.

Top issue: economy went into the tank under a Republican administration; a $128 billion surplus was turned into a $1.2 trillion deficit. The default position of the swing voter - especially one who doesn't follow politics all that closely, will be "time to give the other guys a try". For proof of this, see 2008 elections. How, in 2010, are you going to convince the swing voter that 2 years has been enough time for that experiment?

Brilliant diary!!!

Now, in answer to the post, I would suggest a lot of Henke's recommendations and a little sleight-of-hand. Point out how great everything was from 2000-2007ish... when the democrats returned to the House/Senate.

That's a trick that will only work on a swing voter, however. Use sparingly.

 No, that trick won't work on

 No, that trick won't work on swing voters; they tend to be a little more intelligent.  That will only work on those who get their thoughts from the likes of Karl Rove, Tom DeLay, and Ann Coulter  

I'm not talking "intelligence". I'm talking "information".

Swing voters aren't of low intelligence. They're smart enough to know that there are better things to pay attention to than politics.

What they don't have is information... because, if they did, they'd vote 3rd party.

On that note

The dow is down 43% since January, 3rd 2008, the day then Sen. Obama won the Iowa Caucus.

you truly do prove that ignorance is bliss.


Good point!

And the Dow is only down about 33% percent since Bush took office. Therefore Bush>Obama! Brilliant!

By the way, would you care to buy this tiger protection stone I have? Guaranteed to protect you from tiger attacks! Only 20 dollars.


 Good posting, Jon.  Note that many of the talk show spin-meisters swing back and forth between numbers 1 and 2 in they way they present their daily spiels in an effort to arouse "the base."

Another, more pathetic, plea to watch for is something along the line of ...." You may not like us, but those LIBERAL DEMOCRATS are worser!  They won't protect us from evil men that want to come here and hurt Americans!....They want to take God off our money!"   Hmmmm, didn't we hear something like that in 2004? 


Finally, Signs of a Bottom...Maybe

I signed up for this site early on, but quickly drifted away when it seemed the founders & most others didn't understand how badly the GOP had discredited itself.

It's a pleasant surprise that some people here are getting it afaic.  Enough to make a difference?  Time will tell.

Maybe are getting it, that is.  For a contrary indication, see the above suggestion that swing voters can be lured back with 'a little sleight-of-hand' and 'a trick'.  I'm reminded of the Flag Desecration Amendment and the federalization of the Schiavo case: part of 'how great everything was from 2000-2007ish' while this swing voter was getting completely fed up.

To end on a positive note, let me suggest that the Republican party make no (or hardly any) criticism of the Democrats without including a constructive counterproposal.  That's hard work which requires discipline, focus and respect for fundamental principles.  Reagan showed how it's done and made it look easy.  "Our liberal friends are at it again.  We're not angry.  We know they mean well, but..."

Great point

Reagan did it before the time of the demonization of The Other, which is what talk radio has contributed to the conservative cause.

I believe his view on the Left was more accurate.

They mean well.  They want to help.  They don't know how.  Big in heart, but low on brains. 


Evil Empire ring a bell?

Reagan was a champion red-baiter.

The CD by Rage Against the Machine

That wasn't the opposition that he referred to by that, but a foreign sovereign nation.

The Cold War was still on.

Nowadays, they're just good ol' capitalists with the protege of a former KGB agent running the country.

My! How times have changed...


Still, these days it's nothing for some talk radio host to see Socialism rampant through our own nation. 

I do remember a little bit of history, ya know ;-)

Reagan made the soviets very very nervous. They didn't exactly appreciate the saberrattling (and the accidental annoucement that he had launched nuclear weapons -- apparently a spy was listening to his vocal warmup. that got a call on the red line, post haste!)

Calling Russia ATM Capitalist is a disservice to capitalism. Russia is an Anarchy, and best regarded as such. People disappear over there all the time.

...Or Maybe Not

Good grief:

President Obama's transportation department slapped down a suggestion by its own secretary Friday that the government tax motorists based on how many miles they drive rather than how much gasoline they burn. 

Secretary Ray LaHood floated the idea in an interview with The Associated Press...."We should look at the vehicular miles program where people are actually clocked on the number of miles that they traveled," the former Illinois Republican lawmaker said. 

There are privacy/libertarian concerns.  There is the practical likelihood that a mileage tax would not replace, but rather would supplement, the gas tax.  There is the political fact that Republican voters are more rural and scattered than urban Democrats, and would be disproportionately affected by a mileage tax; the Obama administration gets to publicly slap down a Republican appointee as he works against the interests of the Republican constituency.  There are other objections, and there is the certainty of unintended consequences.

But, of course, I'm being petty while the Wise and Good LaHood is being all nonpartisan and statesmanlike.  Just like Old Read My Lips was.

Good grief.

(If they haven't done so already, the TOP should repudiate the mileage tax.  Instead, I'm half expecting them to attack Obama for dismissing the idea...)

Standing for small government only works if people want it

May I suggest that a big part of the GOP's problem on size of government issues is that the American people don't really want small government? Lots of them say they prefer smaller government, and a few really mean it. I'd estimate maybe 20-30%. Most of the rest are not principled socialists and will say they prefer small government, but they really mean "I want a smaller government that pays for my child's school, my parent's retirement, subsidizes my industry, does whatever my favorite environment group say will protect the environment, makes sure I don't lose my job or my house, protects me from making bad decisions in my purchases, etc., etc."

So the GOP is stuck between a rock and a hard place. The minority of Americans who do demand smaller government comprise its base, and espousing big government discourages them and chases some of them away. But consistently objecting to big government alienates much of the middle who are outraged over opposition to their favorite pet programs and/or worried that the GOP might come after some other program they like.

I'm not really sure what to do about this problem. We can't just give up the fight because our nation desperately needs a much smaller government. But I'd suggest that persuading people how fervently we favor limited government is far less important than persuading them that smaller government is important. I'd also suggest that we give greater emphasis to the threat big government poses to individual freedom, and to the close relationship between big government and corruption.

yes, because we all know that red states

are by and large more corrupt than blue states, because they gain more rewards from big government.

What the Hell Are You Talking About?

How is a state like Texas anywhere near as corrupt as a state like California? 

Texas corruption

Texas used to rival Illinois and Louisiana back when it was a one-party Democratic state. Then the voters wised up, started voting Republican, and most of the corruption went away.

VERY Good Point!!!

Not to mention, it looks like folks in Lousiana are starting to wise up.

Oh, boy, it ain't cali that's corrupt.

Alaska on the other hand, Alabama, Mississippi...

Keep going

Illinois, New York, Detroit, New Orleans, Washington DC.

But the point I started with was that big government enables and promotes corruption, regardless of which party takes advantage of the opportunities. The more government does, the more opportunity for the power to be abused, and the greater the chance the abuse will be overlooked while the attention of "watchdogs" is elsewhere.

nah, you're looking at the wrong places

Try WV, Kentucky, Tennessee.

They've been around the bullshit so long their noses don't smell the shit no more. Give credit where credit's due -- they find corruption in Illinois, and they ROOT IT OUT!

I wouldn't expect nothing less from the Home of the Republican Party.

Hell I'd demand it!

Big government doesn't cause corruption, unless you think regulation is big government (which you might).

Corruption is caused by big interests, be the corporate union or the NRA or AIPAC. and instead of calling it corruption, why not paint the leopard with spots and call it Blackmail???

No I'm not

Uh, West Virginia and Kentucky are still dominated by Democrats at the state and local level, even though they've been going Republican in Presidential elections. Dittoes for Tennessee until pretty recently. The big problem in the South was that they had a one-party system for a century or so after the end of reconstruction. Corruption has declined sharply as the old Democratic machine gets kicked out. Same basic problem in the big cities. Illinois is unusual in that the corruption has been pretty bipartisan.

But regardless of other problems, the ability of special interests to get favors increases with the government's ability to give out favors. Bigger government has more favors to give out, so there is more effort made to get those favors. That is why big corporations spend billions on lobbying. With trillions at stake, they get their money's worth.

bullshit. because losing half of chattanooga's 911 calls

is a reason to elect someone Senator from Tennessee??

Yeah, you just keep on telling yourself those tidy little lies. Ignorance is bliss, and I hope you never have to pay the consequences. You don't happen to live down South, do ya? Rural South, by any chance?

How much bigger did that bankruptcy bill make government, again? Hardly any.

and by damn I do know that WV is represented by democrats. was making a general point, that you seem incapable of understanding.

Go further

Even Reagan said it wasn't just that we needed "smaller" government...we need more effective government.

Imagine the smallest government this country could handle. Imagine it being run by the Bush administration (insert your boogie man here). Are we any better off if incompetent people are running a small government?

Im all for getting rid of the waste, but this is why true Transparency in government is the best solution. If every citizen can easily search and read reports/info, then less nonsense can happen. It would help if we didn't put up with ANY incompetency in government no matter what partisan feelings we each have.

Also when many people hear "smaller government", they automaticly think "cut all social programs". Dept of Education, Dept of Energy, Social Security, Medicare. What is usually missing in people's minds is an equal mandate to deny corporate socialism. How will we get rid of the billions given to large US companies that trumps any amount of food stamps?



GREAT Question!!!

jaydedmon wrote:

Are we any better off if incompetent people are running a small government?

ABSOLUTELY!!!  If a government is smaller, then the incompetant people running it are less powerful and, therefore, can do less damage.

I agree with you on needing more effective government as opposed to just smaller government.  The dirty little secret, of course, is that for government to become for effective it needs to do fewer things and do them very well.

For example: If, instead of running a whole extra department for veterans health care, we provided veterans vouchers so they could purchase health care in the private sector (or even, god forbid, just payed them more during their service), then we would have a lot of money left over to fight and win wars.  Such a policy makes government both smaller AND more effective.


I understand the

I understand the vouchers concept but can't see how we could possibly pay every servicemember enough to entice them to take on the potential liability of absorbing lifetime medical costs.  Are you suggesting that if we just paid soldiers "more during their service" that it would then be feasible for them to cover their lifetime healthcare costs if they suffer catastropic injuries in the course of service -- for things like brain injuries, lost limbs?  How much do you think we would have to pay your average Marine to take on the risk of covering lifelong care? 

I'm sure...

...some private company would devise some sort of reasonably priced insurance policy if we would just give them the chance.

Who would pay the premiums --

Who would pay the premiums -- the vet or the government? 

Hadn't thought it out that far...

...but the vet could have the option to purchase said insurance at any time from the day he first enlists.  No further govt. involvement necessary.

Hell, while we're at it, you could even have the govt. offer very generous subsidies for purchasing such insurance and save massive amounts of money compared to the VA.

Not that it'll ever happen.

I'd love to see a real plan for small government...

because I've never seen a Republican administration or Congress that actually voted themselves less money, size, or power. They just shift where the money goes.

Reagan talked about small government, then simply cut social programs while ballooning military expenditures. Instead of pork spending on bridges to nowhere, he funded secret wars in Central Amercia to take out leaders his peeps didn't like.

Im sure many of you know http://LewRockwell.com and that community's committment to true small govrnment. It's more of a philosophical framework, but it lays down a path that doesn;t contradict itself.


Are you really drawing a moral equivalency between keeping Communism out of Central America and giving people welfare?

hehe. no. one is immoral and the other is moral.

reducing a duly elected government to rubble is BAD, silly duck! (i love realpolitick, but that damaged our relationship with many countries. sheesh)

Let's not shift goalposts

There was nothing said about moral equivalency. There was just a comparison of spending. Whether or not the spending was valid was not mentioned.

It's all how you spin

Someone else might throw it back at you like this: "Are you really drawing a moral equivalency between (often secretly) interferring in other countries legally elected governments vs providing help to americans?

I'm not sure Oliver North should be held as the poster child of the Republican party these days. If so, keep owning it.

My point is simply that Reagan did nothing to actually shrink the overall budget of the US government. In fact, our deficit balooned under his administration. He just shffled the money around differently.



Not Exactly.

Govt. expendatures on national security and the military fall into the legitimate expendatures govt. can make (incl. keeping communist govts. out of our hemisphere).

Govt. expendatures on welfare serve no purpose except destroying lives.

And, on a separate note, why shouldn't a highly decorated 'Nam vet who was the victim of a partisan witchhunt not be held up as an example for all Americans?

This crystalizes where we're at

Cahnman, I have no doubt you are sincere in these beliefs, but this short thread goes a long way to illustrate where we each stand on the meaning of small government...and how the average american feels about it.

"Govt. expendatures on national security and the military fall into the legitimate expendatures govt. can make."

Many Libertarians would disagree with you on this one. The Constitution says the Federal government can spend on National Defense, but we've seen Republicans (and Dems) stretch this definition to the limit. The Bush administration defined evem a "pre-emptive invasion" to mean we are just defending ourselves against an attack that MAY happen. This means anything we choose to do militarily could be defined as National Defense. No limits. Look at the numbers for what we spend on the Pentagon and what we sopend on food stamps.

The Libertarian wing of the Republicans, who have always preached small government, want the government out of social programs AND to close all our foreign military bases. True free trade between countries is the best form of diplomacy since it intertwines interests. If an enemy steps foot on our nation's soil, we'll have the best miitary to defend ourselves. Building empire is not the role of the US government to spend billions of dollars on.

If we are talking about a small US government...we got to be small all around. Here's a good example of the argument: http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig7/baker1.html

So are Republicans really ready to be truly small government?


Fair nuff

For the record, I supported every single overseas military deployment (except Haiti) Bill Clinton ordered over 8 years.

To understand why, see my personal Undeniable Truth of LIfe #18.

I hope this helps.

you're weird.

but at least you're consistent.


Stretching the limits

You want to talk about stretching the limits...

How about the Interstate commerce clause, or the general welfare clause?

How far have politicians stretched those two theories in their pursuit of whatever goal they wanted.

Are you talking about Kerry?

Ooooh Oliver North. :)

Anyways, my point is that spending IS spending. You are ok with nearly any defense spending. Others need more justification. That doesn't make them 'wrong' per se, just with a different set of weights and balances.

Cut corporate welfare, and

Cut corporate welfare, and corporate taxes at the same time.

Of course, the current bailoutmania would have to be included in the column of corporate welfare.

There's a whole list of things that we could do to reduce both the power, influence, and corruption in politics.

Best course of action, find the ones that would be both effective, and popular.  Bundle those into the Making Government Accountable 2009 bill, and push hard.

Good Points All


Same old, same old

  We all know how well Obama's 2004 speech on the Red vs. Blue State theme was received by a wide cross section of the electorate.  It was a positive message because it suggested that ideological gridlock could perhaps be overcome and that the two parties could begin to focus on the "united" States. Obama is applying the same logic to undermine and call into question the distinction between "small" government and "big" government.  He has said that instead of advocating small or big government that we should strive to achieve  "good/effective/responsive" government.

Let's face it: the Republican strategy of recasting the GOP as the party of "small" government will never fly because of the counter example of the Bush legacy: runaway spending and huge deficits.  The public can smell hypocrisy a mile away and will never take seriously the new small-government mantra adopted by Republicans. Economic circumstances pretty much ensure that we are going to have BIG government for a long, long time because intervention is the only option available.  So let's drop this meaningless "small vs big" solution and focus on HOW government can best assist in this time of economic hardship.


Republicans would need to get specific...

if they want to actually attract swing voters. I feel even Jon's argument would only work with the most die hard Republicans who loved Bush to the very end.

If Republicans followed Jon's sugestion of Step #5, what exactly are they sorry for? Unless people hear true specific cases, how do we know what they won't do again?

For example, are they sorry for sending tens of billions to Iraq that now seems lost? Talk about a boondoogle: http://bit.ly/PVNqG This would have been a case for Transparency. Shouldn't this be as outrageous as the Stimulus bill (that will at least spend money in our own country)?

What else will  ths new "I found the light" Republicans admit too? Medicare reform bill? Unfettered "Homeland Security" spending?

If we don't get specific, it just sounds like another inauthentic tactic.


Here You Go

1) Terri Schivao

2) Harriet Miers

3) TARP and Bailout Nation.

4) 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills

5) Duke Cunningham, et. al.

6) 2005 Highway Bill

7) Continuing and expanding Carter/Clinton "affordable housing" policies.

Things that have NO PLACE on this list: Iraq, Medicare Part D.

Agnostic: No Child Left Behind.

What about...

Alberto Gonzalez/Justice Dept. or the Katrina response? 

No Way

1) On Katrina, that was 100% the fault of the incompetant Democrat leadership in New Orleans and the State of Louisiana (Nagin/Blanco).  Why is it that Mississippi, which actually bore the brunt of the storm, was basically OK while Louisiana festered for two weeks?  What's the difference?

2) U.S. Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President.  The President can replace them at any time for any reason.  We should not legitimize the witchunt/smear campaign against Alberto Gonzales.

I saw yesterday...

... that Obama intends to extend the emergency housing provisions for Katrina survivors for another 60 days.

It's been a federal issue for a long time. 

That's fine...

...obviously, given how it's been handled up to this point, the feds will continue to play a role.

My point is that Katrina has no place in any Republican mea culpa.