Republican Grown-Ups Return--to the Tea Party's Irritation?

Do Tea Partyers feel fleeced?


Well look who strolled back into town? The Republican grown-ups.

And the Christmas presents they are bringing the country? A nuclear arms treaty with the Russians. Higher taxes. Earmarks. And a warm embrace of Hispanic immigrants, including the illegal ones.

[See a roundup of editorial cartoons about the Republican Party.]

I support most of these policy choices, and so I’m cheered to see it. But I wonder what you Glenn Beck-Tea Party types are thinking. What happened to that election you thought you won?

The Republican big guns in foreign policy led the march, as five former GOP secretaries of state published a broadside on the op-ed page of The Washington Post, calling on Republican senators to ratify the START treaty with Russia.

[Read the U.S. News debate: Should the United States ratify the New START treaty?]

You wingers consider Colin Powell a squish. And Lawrence Eagleburger and James Baker, maybe. But Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state, George Shultz? Not so much. And Henry Kissinger? That same Henry who was Richard Nixon’s play pal, the Commie-hating advocate of wiretapping and secret bombing?

Might Sarah and Mitt have it wrong, in opposing the START treaty? Are these presidential wannabes un-patriotically trying to score political points at the expense of our security?

[Read more about national security, terrorism, and the military.]

Led by Kissinger, the five Republican graybeards urged Republicans to fight the Democrats all they want on domestic and economic issues, but to “focus on national security” when it comes to START, and ratify a treaty that reduces the number of nuclear warheads aimed at U.S. cities, allows us to modernize our arsenal, and revives the invaluable on-the-ground inspection of Russian nuclear facilities by U.S. military personnel.

(Speaking of grown-ups, the wisdom of President Obama’s nuclear weapons policy was demonstrated Wednesday in the former Soviet state of Belarus, which announced that it was giving up its stock of highly enriched uranium. While everyone here was hyper-ventilating about Wikileaks, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was putting the final touches on a deal that will remove some 700 pounds of weapons-grade uranium from the potential grasp of thieves and terrorists.)

On to taxes. I’ve argued here that the Al Simpson-Erskine Bowles commission plan is a good deal for conservatives, despite its call for huge tax hikes. It seems that some agree with me. The Washington Post reports that one of the feistiest guardians of the taxpayers’ money—Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma—has given the proposal a semi-endorsement. The long-term problem of our soaring federal debt is so real, said Coburn, that he “can’t have everything he wants” and sees the wisdom of “a down payment on the real, difficult sacrifices that everybody in this country is going to have to make.” A very adult statement indeed.

And immigration? You Tea Party types may want to “have my country back again,” but if Newt Gingrich has his way, you will still need to learn to speak Spanish.

[See editorial cartoons about the Tea Party.]

Newt is taking Spanish lessons and hosting a two-day forum in DC this week to woo Hispanic voters. And, if the Post did not take his words out of context, Gingrich is willing to consider some kind of amnesty program for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in America. “We’re not going to deport all of them,” he told the newspaper.

And what could be more adult, and reasonable, than Republican Sen. Jon Kyl’s support for a reparations bill that gives $5 billion to African-American farmers and Native American tribes and includes a $200 million earmark for a tribe in his own state of Arizona.

It is a well crafted and liberal piece of legislation, in which America recognizes at least some of its historic mistreatment of blacks and Indians. Bravo, Senator Kyl. There’s an earmark I can support. But you Tea Party types? I wonder. Don’t you feel a little fleeced?

  • See editorial cartoons about the Republican Party.
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