A Moment for Republican Pragmatists

By James Fallows

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.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/02/a-moment-for-republican-pragmatists/273173/