some criticism of Tom DeLay -- and, more generally, politicians on both sides of the aisle -- to which I subscribe wholeheartedly.
Aside from being just plain wrong (and vaguely un-American, in my view), the problem is that when public officials are living like grandees, it will always hit Republicans harder than Democrats, because we are supposed to be the party of smaller government.
Fine for congressmen like Sheila Jackson Lee
(D-TX) to declaim "I am a queen, and I demand to be treated like a queen." That's because the Democrats are the party of Big Government. They believe Big Government is good, that it is superior to private-sector solutions, and people who are part of it derive their status vicariously from its importance. In some sense, voters don't expect anything better from them.
But Republicans traditionally have believed (correctly, for my money) that Big Government too often is greedy, oppressive, inefficient, spirit-killing and initiative-stifling. In recent years, Republicans -- comfortably ensconced in the majority (at least in the House) for more than a decade -- have decided to gamble, betting that by buying into the Big Government model they can silence their critics on the left, who claim they don't "care" about poor people.
Yes, well, nice try. We've learned that outspending Democrats doesn't buy any good will -- any more than having Colin Powell, Condi Rice and Alberto Gonzales as close advisors convinces those inclined to hate the President that he isn't a racist. No matter how much Republicans spend, Democrats and the left will always
claim that they're uncaring racists -- because that's the best (albeit dishonorable) card in the Democrats' deck.
It seems to me that, in the end, it's a big mistake to start playing an opponent's game -- and tailoring a political approach to the goal of neutralizing criticism that's invalid ab initio. By buying into the Big Government model, Republicans have been complicit in helping our legislators forget that they're not supposed to be our "ruling class" -- they're supposed to be working for us. All of us -- including me -- who have kept silent about the ever-increasing spending have to accept our share of the blame. And then fix it.
If the Republicans can go back to being the party of small government -- so much the better! Don't apologize for it -- explain why spending other people's
money through a vast and too often feckless bureaucracy really doesn't equate with "compassion."
And check out Porkbusters