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Paul R. Hollrah is a freelance writer. He is a member of the Civil Engineering Academy of Distinguished Alumni at the University of Missouri - Columbia and a Senior Fellow at the Lincoln Heritage Institute. He currently resides in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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Paul L. Hollrah

Paul R. Hollrah

Barry Goldwater is Back in Town
September 8, 2008

In the wake of the 2006 congressional elections, in which Republicans received a well-deserved drubbing at the polls, Republican members of Congress spent a weekend together at an east coast resort. Either as testament to their mind-numbing political insensitivity, or as a cruel joke on their constituents, they even had the temerity to call their weekend meeting a "retreat.”


With the political "earthquake” of 1994, Republicans were given the opportunity for leadership that millions of activists had worked toward since the close of World War II... the opportunity to lead the nation according to time-honored conservative principles. They went to Washington and for four years, under the leadership of Speaker Newt Gingrich, the House of Representatives actually acted as if it were the "People’s” House... as the Founding Fathers intended.


But then, in 1998, Gingrich decided not to seek reelection after having his reputation tarnished over a book advance from Rupert Murdock. When the 106th Congress was seated in January 1999, House Republicans elected Dennis Hastert as Speaker – a man who couldn’t buy an appearance on a network news program and who never saw a spending bill he didn’t like.


Meanwhile, in the Senate, after conducting a sham trial of Bill Clinton in 1999, Majority Leader Trent Lott was driven from his leadership position in December 2002 after making a racially insensitive remark at Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday party. Lott was succeeded by Bill Frist, a heart surgeon from Tennessee. Frist was a totally honorable, totally decent man who, being unaccustomed to dealing with the likes of Ted Kennedy, Tom Daschle, and Harry Reid, quickly became the Democratic leadership’s favorite breakfast food.


With leaders who were incapable of imposing party discipline, Republicans were soon corrupted by their new-found power. Under the leadership of Tom Delay, House Republicans developed what came to be known as the "K Street Project,” a plan designed to shut Democrats out of the corporate money they had been extorting from K Street lobbyists during all their years in power.


It was a completely hare-brained scheme. Since most corporate lobbyists in Washington are what is referred to in the profession as "access” lobbyists, unprincipled and ideologically neutral men and women who buy access to members on both sides of the aisle, they would have given the bulk of their political support to members of the majority party without Delay & Company having to squeeze it out of them. It was a totally unnecessary move, but they did it anyway.


In a very short time, congressional Republicans became addicted to a Democratic pork barrel invention known as the "earmark.” They began to spend the People’s money like drunken sailors, and in just eight short years after Newt Gingrich’s unfortunate and untimely departure congressional Republicans became indistinguishable from Democrats. In 2006 the American people sent them packing... and deservedly so.


One would have thought that a Republican president, concerned for the pocketbooks of the American people and for the long term future of his party, might have imposed a bit of spending discipline on his Republican colleagues in Congress... but he didn’t. During his first seven years in office, the years during which congressional Republicans were losing their way, committing political suicide through a thousand self-inflicted wounds, George W. Bush never once used his veto power in the interest of either fiscal sanity or party discipline.


But the downfall of the Republican Party didn’t begin with Newt Gingrich’s departure from Congress or with the dawn of the Lott/Frist era in the Senate. The demise of the Republican brand began with Ronald Reagan’s departure from the White House and George H.W. Bush’s ascension to the presidency. The Bushes, father and son alike, are both products of the eastern liberal establishment (Rockefeller) wing of the Republican Party. They are not conservatives. They were, and are, political moderates... Ivy League elitists in ten-gallon hats... and whatever ideology it is that motivates them, it remains a mystery among the party’s conservative base.


George W. Bush won nomination in 2000 by claiming to be a "compassionate” conservative... insulting conservatives and confusing non-aligned voters all at one time.


What the Bushes have done, with the able assistance of Trent Lott, Bill Frist, Dennis Hastert, and Tom Delay, is to besmirch the value of the Republican brand. For the better part of a decade they have made it impossible for conservative Republicans, in good conscience, to publicly defend their own party... the party to which so many have dedicated "their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor.” What they have done to the party, collectively, is unforgivable.


But now, in a single act of courage and insightfulness, whether intentional or not, Senator John McCain has made it possible for conservatives and Republicans to put all of that behind them. In choosing Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, John McCain has given his party’s conservative base reason to once again feel proud and unashamed... to march forward to battle with shoulders square and heads held high.


Sarah Palin is an unabashed conservative, in the style of Barry Goldwater. She is courageous, she is self-confident, she knows who and what she is, she knows intuitively what it is that makes our country great, and she understands the evils of liberalism and the virtues of conservatism.


She punctures Democratic pomposity fearlessly and she does it all with grace, charm, and good humor. Not since Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan have we seen a Republican leader with the kind of piercing eyes and determined jaw that causes liberals and Democrats to quake in their boots. Ladies and gentlemen... Barry Goldwater is back in town and he (er, she) plans to kick butt and take names. Let the games begin.
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