A Moment for Republican Pragmatists


The SOTU annotation is being formatted and prepared for posting. Meanwhile, following these items about the degradation of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the likelihood of a filibuster against Chuck Hagel (without using that word), a reader in Florida writes:

It seems to be a very ripe moment for prompt, effective action by a select group of GOP elder statesmen. You mentioned previously that Republican appointees Robert Gates, Colin Powell, Brent Scowcroft, and George Schultz strongly supported Hagel's nomination. They also share a core characteristic: they reflect the pragmatic legacy of the GOP, as opposed to the overarching ideology and obstructionism we see now.

I'm presuming that these elder statesmen are deeply disturbed on several levels. One, Chuck Hagel is a decorated veteran and a worthy nominee. Two, these patriotic individuals have to be distressed by what this Senate dyfunction means generally for national security. Three, the same dysfunction immediately threatens DOD with the sequester nonsense. Finally, as longtime Republicans, it's logical to assume that they long for the GOP that they knew while they were in office, a GOP that actually values governing effectively.

The good news is, these GOP elder statesmen could kill several birds with one stone. They could publicly issue a very strongly worded joint letter, specifically calling out Senate Republicans who would filibuster Hagel rather than allow an up-or-down vote. The letter could condemn the overuse of the filibuster (or threat thereof) by the GOP, and how it is weakening America economically, politically, in foreign policy and defense.

Why would these individuals do this? To save their party from itself, to keep the USA strong, and to confirm a nominee who they deem worthy of the office.

At this moment in time, I simply cannot think of a better moment for old-guard, patriotic, Republican pragmatists to resurrect the real GOP. But they must act quickly.
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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