Yesterday on Bloggingheads.tv, The Weekly Standard's Matt Continetti and I debated the wisdom of the House Republicans' Masada-like total resistance to Obama's stimulus plan:
But I think the disjunction between the House and Senate GOP also illustrates how much Republicans lack any kind of national leadership figure, somebody whose message lawmakers on both sides of the aisle can echo. Without this kind of figure, as I explained in this piece last year, the megaphone in the House ended up in the hands of those with the most energy -- and, crucially, these energetic conservatives' p.r. success in last summer's drill-here-drill-now gas-prices battle turned House Minority Leader John Boehner into a convert. In the Senate, on the other hand, the right-wing faction -- Tom Coburn and Jim DeMint -- was too small and set itself too violently against the institution itself not to end up fatally pissing most of their Republican colleagues off. "The black sheep," one top aide to a GOP senator grumbled to me last year when I mentioned DeMint. "If he came to us and wanted to work on a bill, we would turn our backs."
Boehner's post-election strategy letter to his colleagues paid obsequious homage to his fiercely conservative faction. The hard-core right-wingers in the Senate are barely more than pariahs in their own cloakroom.