Tags: GOP | 2012 | 2010

Republicans Need Attack Mode to Wrest Back Power

Tuesday, 17 Nov 2009 05:53 PM

By Phil Brennan

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In their best let's-you-and-them-fight mode, the bought-and-sold, Obama-worshipping mainstream media are advising the Republican Party to surrender to its tiny left-leaning wing they call the moderates and allow them to set the GOP's agenda.

This would render the majority of Republicans who are firmly in the conservative camp powerless and without a voice, which is the mainstream media's goal. A united GOP in fighting mode is their worst nightmare. Splintering the Republican Party is what the argument is all about.

There is nothing new about this tactic and the moderates' use of it. They used it back in the '60s when the moderates of the day were identified as the Rockefeller wing — a small minority confined mainly to the East Coast and headquartered in the governor's office in Albany.

They were a tiny segment within the national GOP, seeking to use Congress as the arena where they could have the most effect. In the House, a small clique led by New York Rep. Charles Goodell, a Rockefeller flunky, set its sights on Indiana's Charles Halleck, the conservative minority leader. Halleck was a hard drinker who, drunk or sober, made life miserable for the Democratic majority, carefully choosing his targets and killing or drastically altering some of the worst Democrat-backed measures.

Coming off the loss of the 1964 presidential election and the feeling that the GOP needed a facelift, Goodell and his small coterie of liberal malcontents drafted Michigan's Jerry Ford, one of the most popular members of Congress, as their candidate to replace Halleck.

Clueless as to what it was all about, Ford allowed them to use him, and they won and then took aim at the rest of the conservative leadership. That proved to be a step too far — the leadership was solidly entrenched.

So Goodell, at Rocky's urging, took aim at the staff level, seeking to put moderates into staff jobs and, among other things, demanded that I be fired. My boss, Rep. John Rhodes, told them to go to hell, but they prevailed in the end. I quit rather than participate in their agenda.

Rockefeller stooges got key staff jobs And Goodell and company went on to set the party's moderate agenda and allowed Lyndon Johnson to run circles around them. They forgot that you can't fight something with nothing, and the moderate agenda amounted to one big nothing.

In the wake of Nixon's defeat in 1960, even though the GOP picked up 20 seats, Republicans were vastly outnumbered in the House, with 263 Democrats and 174 Republicans. We were powerless.

Or should have been. John Rhodes brought me on board to serve on the House Republican Policy Committee's staff of three and more or less turned us loose to do battle with the majority. For the next two years, we were the voice of the GOP in the House, and we saw to it that our voice was heard.

Using every tool we had to keep the majority on the defensive, we used the weekly Policy Committee meetings as a platform to issue hard-hitting attacks on pending Democrat legislation that got wide coverage. We used guerilla tactics such as keeping the House in session overnight, keeping the fires burning by focusing on Democratic scandals and keeping them alive despite the media's attempts to ignore or soft-pedal them.

When Bill Buckley offered me the opportunity to write a Washington column under the Cato byline, the leadership allowed me to accept the offer, giving me an opportunity to expose such scandals as the Billie Sol Estes case and later, the sordid Bobby Baker/Lyndon Johnson affair that the mainstream media was trying to ignore, as long as I didn't write under my own name.

I worked closely with the minority staffs of the various House committees, encouraging them to issue strongly worded statements attacking Democrat legislation before their committees.

For two years, this badly outnumbered GOP minority exercised far more influence over legislation that its shrunken numbers should have allowed. It worked because we were solidly united despite moderate complaints.

At the staff level, we had a group of hard-nosed conservatives in both houses who put their stamp on legislation and issues and finally coalesced to draft a reluctant Barry Goldwater to run for president. During the 1964 GOP convention, muckraking liberal columnist Drew Pearson wrote that our group had captured the GOP in Congress and wrested control from the Rockefeller stooges. I'm proud to say he named me as one of their number.

If the Republican Party wants to win in 2012, it had better set its sights on 2010 and the congressional elections. Republicans must use the time before the congressional elections to savage the Democrats and their socialist agenda instead of playing the toothless moderate game.

We did it in the '60s and they can do it again.

And they had better.

Phil Brennan is editor and publisher of Wednesday on the Web (http://www.pvbr.com) and was Washington columnist (Cato) for National Review magazine in the 1960s. He is a trustee of the Lincoln Heritage Institute and a member of the Association For Intelligence Officers. He can be reached at pvb@pvbr.com.

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