More on the Republican Agenda, or Lack Thereof

To add something to what Jamelle said below about the National Journal poll showing that the GOP issue agenda isn't particularly popular, it's not much of a surprise. The Democrats usually have the advantage on issues; as I've been writing for some time, that's why, roughly speaking, Democrats run campaigns with the slogan "Please read my 10-point plan," and Republicans usually run with the slogan, "I love God and America, unlike my hippie terrorist opponent." Barack Obama was the first Democrat in a while to understand that a national campaign had to be built not on a checklist of issues but on identity.

But when the National Journal says this, it's missing the point: "The results suggest Republicans could struggle to pass legislation advancing many of the smaller-government themes that have dominated their campaigns in the midterm elections, even if the party wins control of one or both houses of Congress in November."

The Republicans actually don't have much of an agenda, and they don't have to have one (you may have noticed that they keep threatening to come up with one, but never do). Their campaign this year comes down to, "Are you mad? Then vote for us!" Which is perfectly fine -- that's pretty much what the Democrats ran on in 2006. It worked then, and it'll probably work now.

And if they do win back the House, they won't need much of an agenda, because their agenda will be to make life miserable for the Obama administration. Stopping legislation, engaging in dudgeon-filled "investigations" of everything that the administration has ever done -- that's what will occupy their time. It's the opposition's job to oppose, and they'll be getting into some serious opposing. The idea that there is some group of creative and consequential pieces of Republican legislation just waiting to move through the process is absurd. They'll hold off on that until they get the White House back and they don't have to worry about vetoes. And it's hard to blame them.

-- Paul Waldman

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