Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Speaker Nancy? Not So Fast

What type of news can coax me out of bed, slipped disc and all, and get me to blog? Good news, of course. Whether the Republican Party wants it or not, they were just handed a blueprint for success in this fall’s elections – and no, Mr. President, it has nothing to do with amnesty for illegal aliens.

Yesterday saw Republican Brian Bilbray defeat liberal Democrat Francine Busby in the special election prompted by the resignation of the disgraced California congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham over his ethical lapses and subsequent criminal indictments. Bilbray’s election would, in a different political climate, have been viewed as a lock in light of the fact that San Diego and the suburban environs that make up that particular congressional district trend Republican. Up until yesterday, however, the impression one might have gotten from listening to liberal Democrat politicians and their willing accomplices in the media was that Republicans were about to see their era of D.C. dominance come to a close – and that their exit would be prompted at least in part by the GOP’s so-called culture of corruption. Party prophets were saying triumphantly that Bilbray’s near-guaranteed defeat would be a portent of things to come in November.

But two funny things happened on the way to the Forum. The first was that Democrats’ cries about a Republican culture of corruption lost a lot of steam in the wake of revelations that Representative William Jefferson (D-La.) had received tens, and perhaps hundreds, of thousands of dollars in bribes over the last few years – all of which had been closely monitored and documented by the FBI. (While it could be said that Jefferson single-handedly destroyed the Democrats’ only effective campaign theme for the fall, I would also throw Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) in the mix, since the disingenuousness of his behavior after getting into a DWI accident on Capitol Hill and using his Kennedy connection to get him out of hot water showed that no one party has a monopoly in inappropriate and/or illegal behavior. Ditto Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) acceptance of free ringside boxing seats from Nevada’s boxing commission, which is a undeniable violation of ethical rules.)

The other, more directly relevant thing that happened – which, apparently, completely surprised congressional Democrats and pundits – was that the Bilbray-Busby race was won on substance. Bilbray ran an expensive yet effective campaign in which he savaged proponents of the current rudderless immigration “reform” bill (including the president) while calling for stronger border control measures as the baseline for any federal legislation. Bilbray’s firm stance against giving illegal immigrants a pass simply because they followed Taco Bell’s advice was in sharp contrast to Busby’s (captured-on-audiotape) comments telling a Spanish-speaking individual at a campaign question-and-answer session that, yes, he could vote for her and help her campaign without being legally present in the United States. (I’m embarrassed to even have to add this, but since there are liberals who read this site: It is illegal to both vote and volunteer for campaign work if you are in fact illegally present in the United States.) Putting Bilbray’s unwavering stand against illegal immigration (in California, no less) up against Busby’s virtual request for votes and free campaign labor by illegals makes it clear why Bilbray walloped Busby by more than four percentage points.

Yesterday helped put the lie to the notion that Republicans can, in this political climate, only win by pretending to be liberal Democrats. To the contrary: Republicans win when they do what they do best, which is stick to conservative principles such as fiscal restraint and law-and-order tactics. Bilbray did the Republican Party a tremendous service by sticking to his proverbial guns and demonstrating that having the courage of your convictions makes you a winner every time. Whether or not the Republicans choose to learn this important lesson in time for November has yet to be seen.

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