Who's In Charge Here?
I have come across a lot of references in the media today to a new Gallup poll which shows that a majority of Americans (52%) surveyed with an open-ended question could not name “the main person who speaks for the Republican Party today.” Among those who could offer up a name, the choices ranged across a shortlist of the usual suspects – Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich, and John McCain – currently the party’s three most visible talkers, plus a former presidential nominee who still pops up in the media with some regularity. The clear implication from media coverage of the poll is that the Republican Party is a rudderless ship adrift since the November election.
While this particular list of individuals might be cause for concern among Republicans who are looking to build a broader electoral coalition for 2010 and 2012, I don’t think the party should be faulted for not yet having a single dominant spokesperson so soon after a significant national electoral defeat. If anything, it is the competition of ideas among a number of potential leaders which offers the best hope of the party regaining its electoral footing.
In the short-term, party regulars should expect their Congressional leaders to fill this vacuum, so it is a bit problematic that neither House Minority Leader John Boehner nor Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell makes the cut. But in the longer-term, the presidential selection process will sort this question out in typically ruthless and efficient fashion, just as it did in 2008. I am sure some Republicans would prefer to see a different cluster of names atop Gallup’s list, but I see no overriding political reason for resolving the “main spokesperson” issue right now.
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