I was in Washington today for a combination of business, politics and pleasure. I met with a number of Republican Congressmen and Senators, attended a press conference, and followed events on the Senate floor. Here are a few random thoughts on the day’s events.
* The defeat of the immigration bill was due entirely to the public outcry against it. In the end, wavering Senators knew that there was no way they could vote for the comprehensive bill. This morning, there was a “run on the bank” as Senators opted to oppose the legislation. Some of those who voted “No” on cloture would have been willing to continue the debate, but, once they realized the bill was dead, did not want their last vote on the measure to be construed as a vote in favor.
* Republican Representatives are enjoying being in the minority more than they had expected. Okay, that’s damning with faint praise, but they are excited about the extent to which their guerrilla tactics, like motions to recommit and exposure of the Democrats’ earmark fraud, have thrown monkey wrenches into the liberals’ gears. Morale is high.
* The Democrats have handed conservatives a golden issue by attempting to bring down talk radio. Congressman Mike Pence offered an amendment to the FCC act today that would bar any use of funds for the re-establishment of the “fairness doctrine,” whereby the government would be empowered to dictate the political content of talk radio and broadcast television. (This would obviously be unconstitutional.) This morning, I attended a press conference put on by Pence and the co-sponsors of his amendment, including Minnesota’s Michele Bachmann. It was a fun event. It is hard to imagine how the Democrats could give Republicans a better issue than their effort to put talk radio out of business. The Pence Amendment passed this afternoon, but, somewhat surprisingly, 115 Democrats–most of the Democrats present–voted against it. So we’ll be able to abuse the Dems on their opposition to free speech for some time to come.
* The Democrats are way behind on getting appropriations bills through Congress; so far behind that they can’t realistically catch up. This fall, a showdown is likely. President Bush will likely veto a succession of Democratic spending bills. If he does so, the Republicans clearly have enough votes to sustain his vetos. So we may see another government “shutdown.” Quite a few Republicans are eager for this fight. They think this will help to reclaim the “brand” of limited government. I think they’re right.
* The Fred Thompson campaign recently set up an event for 60 of Congress’s most solid conservatives. Many of them were hoping to be able to endorse Thompson. Unfortunately, Thompson did not impress the Congressmen. He did not appear to be ready for a tough Presidential campaign. One of his aides explained that Thompson was “rusty,” which, as one Congressman told me, did not inspire much confidence in this YouTube era. Some of those who attended are now looking at Mitt Romney as the most viable conservative in the race. [UPDATE: The Thompson campaign called to say that it has been several months since Thompson has done an event for Congressmen. I'd gotten the impression that this was more recent; if it was actually several months ago, it might help explain Thompson's "rustiness." It's nevertheless the case that the Congressman I talked to was underwhelmed and told me that others were as well.]
There’s lots more, but that’s probably enough for now. With Supreme Court decisions and events in Congress, the last few days have been very good indeed for conservatives.
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