The White House campaign against Rush Limbaugh has centered around the absurd notion that Rush is the leader of the Republican Party. Like just about everything that's coming out of the Obama White House, that's not only false, it's patently absurd.
Rush's real role, one that he fills admirably, is that of conservatism's philosopher king and leading advocate of common sense — a much larger role than that of a mere party leader. Not all conservatives are Republicans, and not all Republicans are conservatives.
That brings up the question of just who is the GOP's big boss.
Traditionally, the party's leader is its last presidential nominee. But John McCain eschews that role, preferring instead to pursue comity with his Democratic senatorial colleagues and the president. It's hard to lead a party when you make a habit of being chummy with the opposition, or at least trying to be buddy-buddy with them.
That being the case, the question of who is the legitimate head of the Republican Party remains unanswered.
It shouldn't. The party's leadership is vested in those who retain whatever power is left to it.
With the executive power now held by a Democrat, Barack Obama, and the legislative power now held by Democrats in Congress, the national Republican Party's sole base of power, reduced as it is by substantial numbers in the House and a smaller margin in the Senate, the only power left to them, weak as it is, is on Capitol Hill.
And where the power lies the leadership resides.
If you have to put a face on the party's leadership, it's that of Kentucky's Sen. Mitch McConnell in the upper body and that of GOP Minority Leader John Boehner, both of who are rising to the occasion. They are the national GOP and as such, in concert with their congressional colleagues, its leaders.
Both men wield the national party's clout, such as it is. Other prominent Republicans may speak on behalf of their party but given the present circumstances, they are merely voices crying out in the wilderness.
Both McConnell and Boehner face the daunting task of fighting a rear guard action, attempting to stem the collectivist tide sweeping down on them from the White House and welcomed by a left-of-center Democratic majority often more radical than the socialist in the White House.
Yeah I know, he vehemently denies he's a socialist — he swore to The New York Times that he isn't. But it's undeniably true that if it walks like a duck and squawks like a duck and acts like a duck, it is a duck even if it tells the Times it isn't a duck.
If the nation is to survive the worst threat to its core values and principles and our individual liberties and financial well-being, our only hope lies in the Republican minorities in the House and Senate. The party's fate, and its leadership, lies in their hands.
As noted above, the most effective voice of conservatism is Rush Limbaugh. However, anyone who heard Newt Gingrich speak at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference had to recognize that his is his party's clearest, most energetic and most effective voice. If the power of the GOP lies with Congress, it voice is Newt Gingrich's.
When Newt speaks you hear not empty political rhetoric, but solid well-thought-out conservative principles and proposals based on his extensive knowledge of history and delivered with verve and clarity.
If you're looking for the party's power base and leadership look to Capitol Hill. If you are looking for the party's voice, you could do a lot worse than to look to Newt Gingrich. Nobody does a better job of defining authentic Republicanism and explaining how to put in practice.
Phil Brennan writes for Newsmax.com. He is editor and publisher of Wednesday on the Web (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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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