One of the difficulties for the political party which is out of the White House is that it does not have one unifying figure who can articulate that party’s position and vision. While the US Presidency does not have a lot of actual constitutional power, the ability of the President to use the “bully pulpit” gives him enormous power in the public policy debates that occur.
In recent weeks, there has been an increasing amount of attention placed on the role of Rush Limbaugh and his role as spokesman for the Republican Party. This got me to thinking: Who should be the spokesperson for the Republican Party? In this post, I will “make the case” for and against seven different individuals. I then ask you to vote for who you think the rightful spokesperson is (no pun intended). Later, I’ll share my opinion on the subject.
Rush Limbaugh – Case For: How many reasons are there for Rush to be the spokesman for Republicans? Try 20 million reasons, as in 20 million listeners who allegedly tune in to listen to him. There is no question that he wields a great amount of influence. Conservatives dare not cross him for fear of getting on his bad side. For this reason, what he says, many times goes for Republicans. Case Against: Who elected him to anything? Other than his “bully pulpit” he has absolutely no authority.
Michael Steele – Case For: Unlike Rush Limbaugh, the RNC Chair has at least been elected as Chairman of the party, even if it was just by a handful of Republican insiders. However, as national chairman he certainly has the position from which he can legitimately claim to be the spokesman for the Republican party. Case Against: If you are like most Americans, you probably just responded, “Michael Who?” While his position makes him the most logical choice, that same position also puts him in a relatively obscure place.
Bobby Jindal – Case For: The Louisiana Governor did give the Republican response to President Obama’s budget address at the end of February, so apparently someone in the party thinks he is a spokesman. He has also already made a trip to Iowa fueling speculation that he is considering a run for president in 2012. Finally, since he is a governor, he is in the perfect position to rail against Washington politics. Case Against: If you saw his performance after President Obama’s budget address, you will understand why it was panned throughout the media. Even conservatives were saying it struck the wrong tone.
Sarah Palin – Case For: As with Governor Jindal, she is a young Republican governor who can rail against the excess of Washington. Also like Governor Jindal, she too is seen as a possible presidential candidate in 2012. In addition, she was on a national ticket and has much more national exposure. Case Against: Does the name Tina Fey mean anything to you? While she certainly has the name recognition, that has not been a necessarily good thing for her. While she is adored among conservatives, the majority of Americans do not have a good opinion of her. Do you really want a spokesperson who your base admires but the rest of the country views as incompetent? Just ask President Bush how that worked out.
John McCain – Case For: He was just the party’s standard bearer in the presidential election last year. He is also a little more moderate than some Republicans. In fact, he is the most moderate on this list. This allows him to be able to play deal maker with the Democrats when they are looking for bi-partisan support. In fact, President Obama has already reached out to him on issues like the troop withdraw from Iraq. Case Against: The Republican base has never fully embraced Senator McCain. They only did so grudgingly in 2008 as he was the anti-Obama. Many view him as a RINO (Republican in Name Only). How can someone be the spokesman if many in the party don’t trust him?
John Boehner – Case For: As the House Minority Leader, he was the one largely responsible for the unanimity among House Republicans in opposing the stimulus plan. He has certainly become one of the more visible opponents of President Obama’s agenda. Case Against: While he is in a great position to speak out against the President’s agenda, most Americans blame Republicans for the current mess and as such, he is viewed as part of the problem. Additionally, the majority of Americans do not know who he is. Finally, he is not really in a position to do anything except criticize the agenda. Since the Democrats have a comfortable majority in the House, Representative Boehner cannot do much except make sure the Republicans continue to vote against the Democrats.
Mitch McConnell – Case For: The Senate Minority Leader certainly has more ability to oppose the Democratic agenda. Since the Republicans do have enough in numbers to mount a filibuster, that is something that Senator McConnell can use to back up his words. Case Against: Unfortunately for Senator McConnell, the Republican Senators are not nearly as cohesive as his House colleagues. This was seen in the stimulus plan when three Senate Republicans broke ranks to vote for the stimulus package. This means that Senator McConnell may threaten a filibuster on some piece of legislation, but he may not be able to deliver on that threat.
Well those are the candidates. Please vote for who you think should be the Republican spokesperson. Later, I’ll post who I think should be and who will be from this list. If you vote for other, please leave a comment as to who you think it should be. Thanks!!