Norm Ornstein kind of reminds me of what a friend of mine once said of the late poet Rod McKuen, who he called “the most understood poet in America.”
Ornstein is so sought after by media types – print, broadcast and cable – that he’s taking on a sort of ubiquitous quality. Everywhere you look, there he is.
Still, Ornstein offers a bit of wisdom in describing the state of play in today’s political debate. It’s no longer Republican vs. Democrat. It has become a five-way battle royale within the Republican Party.
The conservatives are dueling with the so-called “establishment wing” of the GOP. I’m frankly rooting for the establishment guys to win the day, if only to restore some semblance of good government that results when the parties reach across the aisle to work with each other.
This drama is playing out among state congressional delegations. Take Texas, for example. The tea party wing has helped elect Republican Ted Cruz to the U.S. Senate. Cruz’s presence in the Senate has pulled colleague John Cornyn, another Republican, to the right – although Cornyn was headed there all by himself.
The recent debate over abortion in the Texas Legislature has produced a challenge to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, once thought to be an establishment guy. The most recent electoral challenge comes from state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, who wants to run against him in next year’s GOP primary. Patrick wants to restore what he calls “authentic conservative leadership.” Dewhurst, too, is being pulled to the right by this challenge, along with the challenge already mounted by two other Republicans, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples.
The do-nothing guys within the GOP are winning the argument now. They’re managing to block everyone’s agenda. They have none of their own, except to cut spending, reduce dramatically government’s role in people’s lives, while sticking it in the ear of those who oppose them.
I believe sanity will win the argument at the end. Good government types – such as yours truly – believe lawmakers at any level of government can keep doing good by the people if they learn to work with everyone with a seat at the table of power.
That includes one’s foes.