The 2010 election cycle took on a distinctly 1994 flavor yesterday with the unveiling of House Republicans' "Pledge to America" at a press conference in Virginia. For the GOP, it was a clear attempt to recreate the impact of 1994's Contract with America, the famous policy statement that catapulted Republicans back into power. Will the Pledge have a similar impact on this year's races? Among conservative voices, opinion was split. A sampling of responses.
'The Most Ridiculous Thing to Come Out of Washington' The 21-page Pledge lacks the clarity and force of the 869 word Contract, writes Red State's Erick Erickson. "These 21 pages," he continues, "tell you lots of things, some contradictory things, but mostly this: it is a serious of compromises and milquetoast rhetorical flourishes in search of unanimity among House Republicans because the House GOP does not have the fortitude to lead boldly in opposition to Barack Obama." Party elders, fumes Erickson, seem to think conservatives have nothing better to do than "carry their stagnant water."
- An Improved Contract What separates the Pledge from the Contract? Easy, argues the National Review: the Pledge is better. Explain the editors
The Contract with America merely promised to hold votes on popular bills that had been bottled up during decades of Democratic control of the House. The pledge commits Republicans to working toward a broad conservative agenda that, if implemented, would make the federal government significantly smaller, Congress more accountable, and America more prosperous.
- Where's The Tea? Conservative blog Hot Air wondered where the Tea Party fits into the new Pledge. As it stands now, it is "difficult to see the Pledge appealing much to Tea Partiers as a campaign document, a governing document or a confidence builder." It seems like those involved in crafting the document have made the risky "political calculation that the voters’ discontent is primarily directed at the past two years of Beltway overreach and that whatever mandate the GOP may receive in November extends no further than that."
- Important Building Block At the Financial Times, Reihan Salam thinks Republicans should give party leaders the benefit of the doubt. While the proposal won't please all wings of the party, Salan believes it is "worth taking the House Republicans at their word, if only as a thought experiment." The proposals are unorthodox, but if implemented could "set the stage for a leaner, more effective American state that serves as a driver rather than as an impediment to long-run growth."
- Betrayal of 'Responsible Conservatism' The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan, who has described himself as a conservative "heretic," is outraged that a party that once prided itself on fiscal responsibility could get behind such a document. "This is the most fiscally irresponsible document ever offered by the GOP," maintains an apoplectic Sullivan. "It is to the far right of Reagan, who raised taxes and eventually cut defense, and helped reform social security to ensure its longterm viability. It is an act of vandalism against the fiscal balance of the US, and in this global economic climate, a recipe for a double-dip recession and default. It is the opposite of responsible conservatism."