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Republicans know in their hearts that they are going to have a tough time convincing America to elect Rick Santorum or Mitt Romney. So conservative eminence George Will is giving them some advice: forget about beating Barack, we can only hope to contain him from the Senate.
Via Tim Mak at Politico, we get a glimpse of Will’s upcoming Sunday column:
Romney and Rick Santorum … are conservatives, although of strikingly different stripes. Neither, however, seems likely to be elected. … If either is nominated, conservatives should vote for him. But … there would come a point when … conservatives turn their energies to a goal much more attainable than … electing Romney or Santorum president. It is the goal of retaining control of the House and winning control of the Senate. … [C]onservatives this year should have as their primary goal making sure Republicans wield all the gavels in Congress in 2013.
“If Republicans do, their committee majorities will serve as fine-mesh filters, removing President Obama’s initiatives from the stream of legislation … [A] re-elected Obama — a lame duck at noon next Jan. 20 — would have a substantially reduced capacity to do harm. … From Louisiana’s Gov. Bobby Jindal to Wisconsin’s Rep. Paul Ryan, Republicans have a rising generation of potential 2016 candidates. … [T]he presidency is not everything, and there will be another election in the next year divisible by four.”
The excerpts from the column don’t note that the task of winning the Senate became much more difficult with the retirement of Olympia Snowe in Maine.
Nor does it mention the other benefit for the GOP of fully controlling Capitol Hill: the power to investigate. Second terms are notoriously difficult for presidents precisely because scandals that were simmering in the first four years begin to boil over in the next four.
Just look at the fate of other two-term presidents. Nixon had Watergate. Reagan faced the Iran-Contra hearings. Clinton was bogged down in allegations about his sex life and perjury before a Grand Jury. And George W. Bush had to deal with investigations of his Vice-President’s aide Scooter Libby.
The Executive Branch is just too large for any president to run in an absolutely unimpeachable way. They have to trust hundreds of appointed officials and agencies to work flawlessly under intense scrutiny from partisans on the other side.
But the only way to really expose them is to control every Congressional oversight committee.
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