David Brooks, friendly and reasonable interpreter of Republican politics, had a
for the readers of his New York Times column: the Republican gains this year (assuming there will be Republican gains) will mark the triumph of moderate and judicious conservative politics—the very same politics that David Brooks champions. What luck!
Many Republicans figure the age of permanent majorities is over. Democrats once held the House for 40 years, but now control will likely flip back and forth with the tides. So lasting change has to be firmly implanted and gradually absorbed.
[T]his leadership-versus-the-crazies storyline is overblown. The new Republicans may distrust government, but this will be a Republican class with enormous legislative experience. Tea Party hype notwithstanding, most leading G.O.P. candidates either served in state legislatures or previously in Washington. The No Compromise stalwarts like Senator Jim DeMint have a big megaphone but few actual followers within the Senate.
And you thought the electorate was angry! This is because you have been fooled by
, as Brooks notes in one of his patented passive-aggressive mock-anthropological zingers:
(Memo to young journalists: Democratic victories are always ascribed to hope; Republican ones to rage.)
This is why the Tea Party is
"We're as Hopeful as Hell and We're Not Going to Take It Anymore" (
: it comes from a motion picture). Hope totally makes a man
. (Whereas it was anger that made an
last election—oh, wait, she carved it herself, out of, um, hang on, rage-hope-rage-hope-miney-moe... hope?)
But so David Brooks has talked to the hopeful and judicious Republicans who will be running the country the way he wants it run:
We have to be careful not to get carried away, says Lamar Alexander, the third-ranking Republican in the Senate. "I was thinking about putting photos of Nancy Pelosi and Henry Waxman in the Republican cloakroom to remind us not to overreach," he told me on Monday.
Third-ranking! And what does the
The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.
Oddly enough, that didn't make it into Brooks' column. On examination, though, the anodyne quotes that Brooks' Republican sources gave him are consistent with the McConnell message—the shared theme being a complete absence of ideas about what the Republicans will actually do, beyond being against the president, if they win majorities. Brooks writes:
The party could have used a few more years to develop plans about the big things, like tax and entitlement reform.
But, shoot, it's not as if Congress will need to deal with any
Maybe Brooks has it right: the opposition must be pretty darn hopeful.