What's my take on the formation of the National Council for a New America? Couldn't hurt the Republican Party. The group, whose members include top Republicans in Congress, the former presidential nominee, a few former and future presidential candidates, Haley Barbour,
Newt Gingrich, Jeb Bush and Bobby Jindal, will hold town-hall-style meetings outside the Beltway. At these meetings, the assembled Republicans will listen and hope to develop new conservative ideas. Get outside the Beltway, loosen the tie, get in touch with real America. Not bad. Whether you think this group has value will probably depend on your diagnosis of the modern Republican Party. Gingrich? Barbour? Bush? The new face of the party? And won't these meetings just attract Republicans, thereby doing nothing but reinforcing the Republican message, rather than modifying it? Tax cuts and a few helpings of Bobby Jindal ain't gonna do much to help the GOP. Still, the NCNA can help rebuild the party's grassroots capacity. Perhaps the meetings will attract Republicans-turned-independents who will provide a font of new ideas. It's worth watching. Now -- that said -- I'd bet that most of the Republican strategists who are participating in this endeavor realize that, as Jeff Greenfield says, the only way for a party this deep in the wilderness to find itself (at least temporarily) is for President Obama to fail, and majorly. I think the party's enduring demographic and geographic problems, the temperate-but-not-insignificant policy successes of the party in the 1990s, the successful co-option of the center by Democrats will (and ought to) make NCNA's goals relatively modest.