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Susan Estrich
12 Feb 2016
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The Republican Vacuum


Imagine how different things might be right now if there were a Republican Party. I mean a party like the one led by Ronald Reagan, George Bush or Newt Gingrich; a party with a program, a single set of talking points, and the technological and communications advantages to get their message across. That kind of Republican Party. The kind that doesn't exist right now.

Conservative talk radio is on the wane. The Internet, with the exception of the ever-popular Drudge Report, is dominated by the left and the more left. The Democrats, for the first time in this adult's memory, now hold the advantage in terms of technology, organization and communications. Imagine.

If there actually were a Republican Party, they'd be having a field day right now. Not a Glenn Beck field day, but the Washington-politics kind, where you hold hearings and press conferences and announce alternate legislation; where you run ads in key districts making clear what's wrong with their approach; where you do radical things like unify to oppose earmarks, renounce all of your own and become a party that stands for something. Imagine that. Beck's popularity derives not only from his talent, but also from the vacuum of any other way — like involvement in politics — to voice passionately felt concerns. God knows, you wouldn't write to your congressman.

The Republicans in Congress are irrelevant — either because, in the smallest number, they go along with the Democrats, or because they just say no and lose. Either way, they're part of the problem and not a place to find an answer. Lately, most of the Republican talking heads I see are so busy trying to figure out whether Rush Limbaugh is or is not their leader that they lose any claim to being leaders themselves.

Consider this AIG bonus mess.

Could the Democrats have done more to assume the position of sitting ducks than they have on this one? Could you get a better symbol to bang over their heads than knowingly allowing hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses to be paid while people are losing their jobs and struggling to hold on to their homes? Sure, I know, the economists will tell you that hundreds of millions don't matter much when we're talking about a bailout in the hundreds of billions. But this is politics, not economics. This turkey is trimmed and stuffed.

But do you see the Republicans turning it into an opportunity? To do what? It's not just that the Democrats blew it on this one. It's that moments like this are an opportunity if there's anybody else out there with something to say worth listening to. And I don't mean Glenn or Rush — they're doing just fine. I mean the people who do, or should, call themselves the leaders of the Republican Party, or who should make way for others who could fill those shoes.

Sarah Palin is still the big draw for Republicans, with Bobby Jindal now a distant second. But neither of them, as recent history has painfully proved, have the experience, gravity, understanding or credibility to go toe to toe with Tim Geithner, Larry Summers and the rest as to what the economy needs, and doesn't. Until the Republicans find some folks who can, this will remain a one-sided game, even on weeks like this, where that one side finds itself in the sort of situation that a real opposition party could exploit.

Should be good ratings this week for Rush and Glenn. Lucky for the White House that the president does better running against them than anyone else. Not so lucky for the Republican Party, such as it is.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



12 Comments | Post Comment
Susan, So far, the Democratic Party is doing a good job of destroying itself. Let's talk in a year when the dust has settled on Congress and Obama. Yes, the Republican Party does need a new Leader, but it will come. We are going to have to come up with good ideas and give the voters something to vote for. Just remember, all of this will play big time in the next election.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Anne
Fri Mar 20, 2009 9:46 AM
It wasn't long ago that the Democrats were irrelevent. I don't believe they gave many answers, either.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Fred
Fri Mar 20, 2009 3:36 PM
Susan you are so afraid that your party is going down the drain that you had to write this article. With all that is going on we have a President who left DC to fly to California and to make a fool of himself on Leno. I really don't think he realizes his role and how important it is. Now that he has caused havok domestically he has no clue what is occurring around the world and how we are now sitting ducks. Where is Hillary? He has her hidden some where out of the press sight so they can not interview her. Can he do anything without a telepropter telling him how to answer questions? Oh my God I am convinced he is clueless and a puppet for the far left meaning Pelosi and Reid. I pray they all get voted out!!!!!!! Power to the people.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Kathaleen McCausland
Fri Mar 20, 2009 9:08 PM
What a wonderful grasp of the obvious you have Ms. Estrich. Why don't you try writing something profound for a change instead of the liberal pablum you and your ilk keep dishing out. The elections in 2010 will be just like 1994 and you know it. A complete rejection of the lurch to the left Obama and folks like you have taken the country. Hopefully your hypocrisy and weakness will not have damaged the country to much until then. "Progressive Liberalism" is killing America one word at a time, one deed at a time, one protest at a time and the voting public better wake up to that fact real soon.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Roy
Sat Mar 21, 2009 6:08 AM
This artical is a simple attempt to shame Rupublicans into a launching a battle they should not fight and cannot win...right now. The Republicans have wisely read the script the Democrats wrote and played out very effectly all throughout George W.'s presidency. Over time, Nancy and Barack will not escape the inevitable responsiblity for the decisions they are making for our Country at a time when true leadership is needed most.
Comment: #5
Posted by: eliian
Sat Mar 21, 2009 2:07 PM
I am conservative and I try to read opposing viewpoints to get a different perspective. This article could have been written by a conservative columnist. The democrats have devolved into a terrible party that don't serve what most liberals are trying to achieve. The republicans are gutless wonders that try to just hold onto to their seats. Part of it is the news media will not report what is really happening. They will blow out of porportion anything a republican does and not report at all on what the democrats do. Just look at the House passing that bill to confiscate 90% of the AIG bonuses. Never mind that it is unconstitutional. Do you think OBAMA would sign it as he is supposed to be an expert on the constitution? Never mind that it is illegal and would not stand up in court. If they can do this to one company they can do it to anybody. Talk about taking your freedom away. Also, what firm will buy those companies now? They can invest elsewhere where their officer's homes are not targets of threats. People, just look at the economy since 11-04-08. It says it all.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Ann
Sun Mar 22, 2009 5:17 AM
The one person that everybody seems to forget about is Ron Paul. Everything that he predicted has come true.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Robert Moellers
Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:46 AM
Thanks Susan for your keen insight. Keep up the good work. There is a vacuum in Washington and the soft underbelly of the liberal left is exposed. The Republican Party ran amuck during the Bush era. Spending was out of control and earmarks were the norm. I consider myself a conservative republican and I guarantee there is no vacuum out here in Middle Earth. In general the party turned its back on the average member and we are keeping score. I can't say that about the congressman in my district however, Mr. Poe is a fiscal conservative. I letter write to my congressman and senators about the earmark spending bill just passed and the toxic bailout on the horizon. They share my views but don't seem to have a clear message or focus despite their minority standing in congress. Don't fret Susan, Middle Earth is watching. We have the power with our vote. Well unless it's a union vote!
Comment: #8
Posted by: Michael Belew
Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:52 AM
You are so "on the money" with this commentary. I soooo agree with your main point . . Where is the Republican leadership? There has been so many missed opportunities because of the lack of leadership. However, probably due to the fear of the "left", nobody will speak out for fear of the"Liberal Attack Machine". No matter what anyone conservative says, they will turn their side into a bunch of victims and your average American will always empathize with the victim. That's their tactic . . .always has been. The Republicans need somebody who can dance around this "victim" stuff and hit with researched facts.
Comment: #9
Posted by: Bill Schreiner
Mon Mar 23, 2009 12:22 PM
Yes Susan. The need for a new party has never been greater. The DNC makes me puke. I am sick and tired of having to choose between death by fire and death by drowning.

WTF is up with BO's Chief of Staff. Sorority sisters don't behave as badly as this. And you know well how rich spoiled sorority sisters behave. I know SC well.

2010. Look out folks.
Comment: #10
Posted by: David Rooney
Mon Mar 23, 2009 10:05 PM
Comment: #11
Posted by: JOHN NICKEL
Tue Mar 24, 2009 12:25 PM
With all the truly critical issues pressing all of us (Democrats and Republicans alike), all you can expound upon is how to turn some inane Democratic flubs into "an opportunity." How sad. And then you wonder why the Republicans have become irrelevant (for what else could they be when the discussion actually revolves around whether Limbaugh is the leader or not??). To think I never thought I would live to see the day when this is that to which we aspire. My thinking was that, once we discarded the intolerant, non-inclusive rantings of the religious right as our model, we would finally be able to attract the larger segments of our society. Goes to show how wrong one can be. As for me, independent henceforth, but realistically (especially after a column like yours), I am done with this Party. Wherever the Democrats take us, that is where we are going...and no matter where that may be, it is a thousand times better than where loudmouths and fear mongers like Limbaugh, Beck and know-it-all, intolerant religious zealots would take us. If you do not believe me, please just study the dramatic change in the political demographics of key States. You can fool Americans some of the time, but eventually they wake up. And columns like yours assist that awakening. Thank you so much for the added impetus.
Comment: #12
Wed Mar 25, 2009 9:34 AM
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