Sunday, May 18, 2008

Dog Food, Democrats, Davis

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It’s come to my attention (and how!) that a lot of Republicans are concerned about Rep. Tom Davis’ recent 20-page memo proclaiming the Republican Party as the equivalent of a “dead man walking.” He said if the “Republican Party brand” was a “dog food” it would be pulled from the shelves.

[Insert: Note to Candidates: Read the bottom of this column]

Davis is a 7th term Republican congressman from Virginia’s 11th District (Fairfax County, just outside DC). He’s retiring this year on a huge pension and life-time health benefits for him and his. As a congressman, he’s as “Beltway as it gets.” He’s one of a handful of Christian Scientists in Congress.

I hope he doesn’t regard his leaving as one of the operative causes of what he sees as the demise of the Republican Party. His comments don’t frighten me; they irritate me.

If the Republican Party has its troubles – and it does – people like him are responsible. He’s one of the Republican “leaders.” Tom Davis, whose voting record is half liberal, half conservative, voted for most of the big spending bills he now decries.

He loved his “earmarks,” those wasteful “special projects” made famous by Alaska’s “Bridge to Nowhere.” He never realized that no Republican congressman or congresswoman anymore can support earmarks, because they are invariably wasteful spending that adds to the budget deficit.

Tom’s constituents are presumably creating uproar over gasoline prices reaching $4 a gallon. However, Tom voted against drilling in ANWR, one of a number of Republicans who did so. Tom is one of those Republicans who think it’s a good idea to drill for and produce oil in other countries, but not in ours. People in Mideast call that hypocrisy, and it’s one reason they refuse to produce additional oil to satisfy our needs.

As I suggested earlier, Tom is one of those who uses the hip phrase “Republican brand.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “History is the lengthened shadow of a man (person).” Well, Tom, a political Party is the extension of the people in it. It is not “Frosted Flakes” or a Hyundai car.

If you have excellent people, you have a great Party. If you more than your share of Mark Foleys (of nasty e-mail fame), or Duke Cunningham (now in jail for bribery), or Bob Ney (also in jail), you have a Party that needs to rethink who it is and what it wants to be.

The Democrat’s “brand” is doing very well either. Right now, the national approval rating for Congress is lower than George Bush’s. It’s at 22%. That figure is a vote on the performance of people like Tom Davis. It’s a failing grade and one people like him richly deserve.

The Republican “brand” (i.e., the people running for office) in Pennsylvania is very strong. That’s because the people – Melissa Hart, Marina Kats, Tom Manion, Toni Gilhooley, and Mike Livingston – are outstanding human beings. Their life stories are tales of heroism and perseverance in the face of adversity.

Tom Manion (from Bucks county) is a career Marine whose Naval Academy graduate son, Travis, died for his country in Iraq. He may or may not win in November, but if there's a better man in the Commonwealth I'd love to meet him. Toni Gilhooley is a 25-year-veteran of the PA State Police. Marina Kat emigrated from Russia and become one of the top businesswomen and attorneys in the state. Melissa Hart grew up in tough circumstances and became a congresswoman. Mike Livingston is an attorney and an expert on taxes. The U.S. House would benefit from their presence.

Tom Davis one of the rudderless “leaders” who helped create the mess in Washington. Now, he’s turned around and, for the first time in his life, discovered there . . . a mess.

Spare us your lectures Tom. In Pennsylvania we’re planning to send a much better grade of people to Congress. They are going to solve problems – in national security, in spending, in terrorism threats, in education, and in crime – that you barely touched in your 14 years in the House. You walked many miles in the Halls of Congress, but you never left a footprint.

The Republican congressional candidates in Pennsylvania are going to take back seats we lost in 2006 –and add a couple of surprises for the Democrats.

(More on this and related subjects in coming days. The columns will be on my Pennsylvania blog and on the two national ones. Your comments are welcome.


Abraham Lincoln, the Republican Party's second presidential nominee

On this day in 1860, Abraham Lincoln won the Republican Party's presidential nomination. Easily overlooked is the fact that both he and the 1856 nominee, Georgia's John C. Fremont, were southerners.

John Marshall Harlan, Republican dissenter from the Plessy v. Ferguson decision

On this day in 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court issued the Plessy v. Ferguson decision, which declared "separate but equal" to be constitutional. Dissenting from this infamous decision was Justice John Marshall Harlan, who wrote:"Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens."

After commanding a U.S. Army regiment during the Civil War, Harlan was elected Attorney General of Kentucky in 1863. Running on the Republican ticket, he lost two races for Governor before President Rutherford Hayes (R-OH) appointed him to the Supreme Court in 1877.

President Eisenhower appointed his grandson, John Harlan II, to the Supreme Court in 1955.

Republican candidates for Federal Office: I'm willing to assist in any reasonable way I can. My background is as a speechwriter and policy analyst for very large companies, including Phillips Petroleum, Gulf Oil, USX, Aetna, Merck, and Lilly. I will help with any documents or speeches you need. Just give me some advance notice and a general sense of what you want to say. I also work with a number of political operatives and strategists around the country. Our emphasis is on low-cost, high-impact politics. I don't charge Republican candidates for services, but if you raise a couple of million dollars (relax, you won't), I might change my mind. E-mail me at: and I'll send my phone number.

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