Martinez to head RNC
Sen. Mel Martinez, of Florida, will replace Ken Mehlman as Republican National Committee Chairman in January. He is a Cuban-American who is on good terms with President Bush. He will continue to serve in the Senate while carrying out the duties on behalf of the party. Can he really fulfill both functions? The Washington Post notes that he was involved with the Elian Gonzalez and Terri Schiavo controversies. Oddly, there is no official announcement yet at gopusa.com.
Although it is too bad that Maryland's Michael Steele did not get the job, this comes as welcome news for those of us who want to broaden the Republican Party's base of support to include Latino voters. Immigration reform remains the big stumbling block, however. With the Democrats poised to take power, the likelihood of honest, comprehensive immigration reform -- or indeed any serious reform -- has diminished considerably. As they go ahead with their pledge to raise the minimum wage by two dollars an hour, they need illegal workers to do the jobs that no employers will pay the minimum wage for.
Griffin to leave RPV
Kate Obenshain Griffin has agreed to take the position of chief of staff in Sen. George Allen's office for the last two months of his term, a graceful way for her to step down as Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. Ms. Griffin has appeared on national television and is an articulate spokesperson for the party. Her departure is an appropriate gesture of accountability in light of the electoral defeat of Sen. Allen, and the miserable state of intra-party relations in the Old Dominion. (Republicans in the State Senate are at loggerheads with Republicans in the House of Delegates.) Oddly, there is no official announcement yet at rpv.org.
Barone on political prospects
Michael Barone looks forward to Washington politics in the wake of the "thumpin" that Bush received last week. "House Republicans, with little chance to affect outcomes, will be mostly ignored, as House Democrats were under Clinton." (Link via Instapundit.) Generally speaking, political landscape has been fairly evenly divided between the two parties in recent years, in spite of determined efforts by Presidents Clinton and Bush to achieve hegemony. In both cases, the attempt backfired, and the presidents were bewildered that their opponents reviled them so much.
For a dozen years, our politics has been bitterly polarized, dominated by two baby boomer presidents who happen to have personal characteristics that people on the other side of the cultural divide absolutely loathe. Clinton in 1992 and Bush in 2000 both made genuine efforts to run as unifiers, but once in office proved to be dividers.
Ironic, indeed. It's an example of the rule that those who possess power seldom comprehend how much envy and resentment is directed at them by those who lack power. Hence all the anti-imperialist spasms in the Third World, by Hugo Chavez, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, et al. As the debates in Washington over the war, the budget, and other policy issues proceeds, Barone expects that presidential campaign politics will be largely separate from all that.