Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Partisanship Incarnate Episode II: The Moderate Wars

How does Representative Scott Garrett deal with being in the minority and one of the least influential Representatives on Capitol Hill?

True to Tom Delay form, The Politico reports he's taken to attacking his fellow Republicans.
The loyalty of Tuesday Group members was questioned last week during a House GOP conference, when Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), a member of the conservative Republican Study Committee, questioned why several Tuesday Group members voted for a Democratic gasoline price gouging bill.

"It was pointed out that we could have beaten back that bill if we had voted a different way," said Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.), a member of the Tuesday Group. But LaHood said it would have been tough to go back home to Illinois -- where gas can be more than $3.50 a gallon -- if he had voted the way conservatives wanted.

Questioning the loyalty of the first major Republican group to tell the President point blank that the Republicans face anhililation next year if his war policy doesn't change is a bit ridiculous. While Garrett keeps re-issuing the same tired soundbites supporting the President's policies, The Tuesday Group at least seems to have some grip on reality. Even White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolton understands the importance of the group.
Bolten said he understands that there are disagreements among Republicans and praised what he described as the constructive tone of last Tuesday's White House meeting with GOP congressmen concerned about Iraq. "The only thing that went wrong with the meeting was when someone had the poor judgment to talk about it outside when it was clearly meant to be an in-the- family discussion," he said.
After being kicked around by the leadership style Garrett seems to embrace; watching many of their moderate collegues go down last year because of anti-Republican sentiment; and having to endure primary challenges from within the party for not being "Republican enough"; is it any wonder the moderates want to get the word out that not all Republicans fit into the mold of authoritarian Republican whipping boy?

In addition to Iraq, it's safe to say gas prices are going to be a big issue next year, as big oil has said not to expect a drop in gas prices for the forseable future . The bill Garrett challenged the moderates on wasn't perfect, but no matter who runs against Garrett it will be pointed out this was actually the second time he's voted against making sure big oil isn't taking unfair advantage of consumers.

In the interest of being fair, questioning the loyalty of Republicans isn't a new activity for Garett. It's pretty safe to say Garrett went into Congress disliking the fact moderates of the Tuesday Group, and their related Republican Main Street Partnership, were known to buck the party leadership when it served the interests of their District. Compromise has never really been of interest to Garrett, and that attitude was financially supported by the conservative counterpart to the RMSP, the Club for Growth. The Politico pointed out how they operate in this article.
The moderate Republican Main Street Partnership (RMSP) and conservative Club for Growth have faced off in a handful of contentious primaries in recent years. The Club for Growth has been more visible, and last year achieved its goal of beating a moderate Republican lawmaker in a primary contest by helping knock off then-Rep. Joe Schwarz of Michigan. The Club for Growth also spent more than $700,000 opposing then-Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.), who fended off a primary challenge from the right but lost in the general election.


Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (Md.) and former Reps. Sherwood Boehlert (N.Y.) and Marge Roukema (N.J.), each faced challengers whose campaigns were largely funded by the Club for Growth. Boehlert survived a couple of close calls while Roukema retired in 2002 after twice nearly losing her seat in the Republican primary.
Pat Moynihan seems to have coined the phrase "rule or ruin" when describing partisan zealots, saying if they can't rule their way, they'd rather ruin their party. It seems to fit Garrett here.

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