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Blog Buzz: Conservatives defending the Pledge

Bloggers on the left and right had plenty to say about the the Republican party's new "Pledge to America," which, as First Read wrote earlier, divided conservative circles with some criticizing the proposal as being light on new policy recommendations.

National Review Online, whose editors came out in support of the document today, posted several additional defenses of the agenda.

Ralph Reed, former Christian Coalition head who was connected to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, compared and contrasted the pledge with the 1994 House Republicans' Contract With America, noting that he was "privileged to work closely with Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey, and their compatriots" on the contract.

My only criticism then and now is that there didn’t seem to be second act. After the first 100 days and the flurry of floor votes on the ten items in the Contract, the GOP fountainhead of ideas seemed to be a spent volcano. The lesson: Next time, make sure the agenda envisions 100 months, not 100 days.

That is why the House Republicans’ Pledge to America is so encouraging. It’s big, brash, and bold, calling for everything from disarming Iran and winning the wars and the subsequent peace in Iraq and Afghanistan to repealing Obamacare. This is a tall order. Good. Governing is a marathon, not a sprint, and Republicans now grasp that reality.

Seth Liebsohn, a fellow at the Claremont Institute, suggested Democrats should be envious of the plan.

If I were a Republican voter, I'd be saying, "Yes, this is what I want." If I were an independent, I'd be saying "Yes, this is what I think." If I were a Democrat, I'd be saying, "Damn, I wish we had this." The last one is the most true, I think: The Democrats have nothing like this -- all they have are really bad numbers and indicia; they do not have a convincing blueprint that shows the way out of the mess or doldrums that people believe they created. They get occasional assurances from the White House and President Obama, but they don't ring right and are not convincing. They have nothing -- not even op-ed writers -- to help them see what is right about their philosophy of governance right now. Whatever our chances were for November, they just increased.

And NRO's Kathryn Jean Lopez posts a few reactions from readers, including this one:

I like it. Those who say it isn’t enough need to understand that it is just a beginning. Also, any time the young guns and Boehner can get face time works for me. It forces the media to acknowledge that the Republicans are not what Pres. Obama accuses them of. They are no longer the “party of no,” but the party of “here we come!”

On the liberal side, AMERICAblog's Chris in Paris panned the Republicans' inclusion of their oft-repeated call to permanently extend all Bush tax cuts, including those to the wealthiest Americans.

"Who really needs to pay for expensive giveaways to the wealthiest Americans anyway? Hasn't that been the ongoing Republican plan anyway? Looks like they're not the only ones who can't figure out what "change" is supposed to mean. Details, details. Who needs 'em?"

Balloon Juice John Cole's shared the same sentiment of "nothing new to see here."

The GOP has released their new “Pledge for America,” and surprising no one, it looks like the prescription for the future is tax cuts, missile defense, gay-bashing and fetus worship, and investigating ACORN the White House.

Linking to the classic song "We Don't Get Fooled Again," (Meet the new boss, same as the old boss), Cole continued:

Sadly, America no longer listens to the Who. I, for one, look forward to the new regime of tax cuts for Jesus.

Daily Kos' DemFromCT singled out the provision intending to repeal and replace the entire health care bill, which includes the popular law forbidding insurance companies from dropping patients with pre-existing conditions.

The blogger excerpted from a New York Times story on one family who benefited from the new law.

Bill and Victoria Strong’s 3-year-old daughter, who has a degenerative condition, can now be covered by health insurance that does not have a lifetime cap on benefits.

So the Republicans want to repeal these measures and tell the Strongs their daughter is out of luck? Good luck with that.


Washington Monthly's Steve Benen
concluded that the agenda demonstrates Republicans' rhetorical strenth and policy weakness, but that the imbalance between the two skills may not matter in the runup to the midterms.

Today, the House GOP will release a "Pledge" that simply doesn't make any sense to those who take reality seriously. It's a reminder that the Republican Party just isn't good at this sort of thing. It excels in attack ads, smear campaigns, and media manipulation; but the GOP struggles badly, to the point of comedy, when asked to do substantive work.

Ultimately, it may not matter. Voters are frustrated by a weak economy, and so Democrats are very likely to lose badly in November, even if they're being punished for trying to clean the GOP's mess. But electoral success for Republicans in the fall need not translate to an endorsement of this "Pledge." It's a transparent sham.