Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tuesday, or Not?

One of the biggest surprises to me recently has been the emergence of National Review as a location for some quality reporting on Republicans. I've thought of NRO as mostly a cheerleader site, but with Robert Costa taking the lead, it's now becoming a place to get information beyond what today's talking points happen to be. That's good!

That said...I'm more than a little confused about today's item, from Jonathan Strong, claiming that "The Tuesday Group, a moderate-Republican caucus long ignored within the House GOP, is quietly starting to fight back against the conference’s right turn."

The problem? There's really no evidence that House moderates are having any effect at all. In the article, I mean. Typical anecdote:
Tuesday Group members will “get up in a [meeting of the Republican caucus] and express a point of view and basically, the leaders listen to them, but everybody else sort of tunes out,” said former representative Steven LaTourette of Ohio, now the president of the moderate Republican Main Street Partnership.
It goes on like that, reporting on several recent skirmishes that the moderates lost; there's really nothing at all about any successes.

So what's the deal here? Strong noticed the existence of the Tuesday Group, thought there might be a story there, reported it out and found nothing but was already committed to a point of view? Some unexpected editorial decision from NR to show tolerance by throwing a bone to moderates? There really is some sort of resurgence of the moderates -- who, after all, have just as much ability to sink a GOP-only bill in the House as the Gohmert-Bachmann group -- but Strong didn't quite come up with the stories to convince us?

I'll admit: I'm puzzled. Interested, but puzzled.


  1. The Jonathan Strong article reads to me like cheerleading for Republican moderates, i.e. an attempt on the part of NR (or some faction therein) to help the moderate cause get better traction. Perhaps a relevant data point is this: In the weeks just after the election, I read a lot of NR and a lot of the Weekly Standard to see what conservatives were making of the results. The Weekly Standard was all Pravda-like bravado about how the Five Year Plan was working better than expected and shoe production had never been higher. NR post-mortems had a noticeably different tone, much more fretful and worried about the impending death of American civilization and, consequently, more willing to notice changing demographics and the like, if not (obviously) in the same way liberals would. So it would not surprise me if there were now editors at NR hoping to see moderate reform in the GOP. They're not going to go on the attack against people like Eric Cantor directly, but they can write articles drawing favorable attention to those of his colleagues who are willing to challenge him.

    1. Perhaps!

      But wouldn't the better play be to praise the group just to the right of that -- basically, the sane conservatives? They're the ones who really need the help, anyway. The ones who are willing to identify as moderates have already made their bed; it's the sane conservatives who really want to be known as conservatives without having to jump every time Gohmert has some idiot idea.

      Of course, they may see things differently than I do, and presumably they know more about what's going on inside the party than I do. OTOH, they could be trying to do a little pushback but just not be all that good at it.

    2. Right, I would go with "not all that good at it." I seriously doubt that the writers at NR, notwithstanding their contacts in Republican circles and on the Hill, actually have a grasp of party dynamics anywhere near as sophisticated as yours.

  2. What purpose does the power to spike Republican only bills in the House serve for moderates? It's not as though any of those Republican only bills are going anywhere.

  3. The article claims the group is starting to fight. Nothing in it about winning, or having influence, or anything else that implies success.

    1. ^Agreed, JB. The article claims they are fighting and gives examples of it. It doesn't say anywhere that they are successfully exerting influence.


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