Posted by: sweeneyblog | January 25, 2013

Hey GOP, Can We Talk: Where is your Shadow Cabinet?

I’ve been suffering from a lousy fever and cold the last couple of days, so consequently there will be no Friday Odds and Ends this week. As a result, I’m bumping this post up a little sooner.

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Rep. Paul Ryan: Dude, I got this!

Hey GOP, can we talk? Where is your Shadow Cabinet? That is the question I have become fixated on as I watched the Benghazi testimony and the party’s lurching back and forth after the inauguration. For those of you who don’t know, a Shadow Cabinet is a concept from the parliamentary system of government where the opposition party designates specific members of their team to offer up alternate policy suggestions on a particular field of government. Aside from it being a wickedly cool name, it seems like a decent concept to bring over the pond to us yanks. Unofficially, the US has been doing it for years. Whenever Bush talked about investing in green energy, the Democratic caucus would trot out then-Representative Jay Inslee to talk about geothermal power or biodigesters. So my question is, now that the Republicans are the party in opposition, where are their policy leaders?

I can only think of two. Rep. Paul Ryan, on budget and tax policy, and Sen. Marco Rubio, on immigration. Aside from that, there is a vast policy wasteland. Look at the Benghazi testimony held a couple days ago, where were the Republican policy ideas on how to make things safer? Most of them focused on what Susan Rice said or didn’t say on a Sunday talk show. There is no Republican policy leader on education, health care, veterans issues, transportation, privacy issues, and most shocking to me, foreign policy. Who is the leading conservative voice on foreign policy? Lindsey Graham? John McCain? They aren’t proposing any ideas, they are reduced to grumbling old men.

Hey GOP, Can We Talk?

Hey GOP, Can We Talk?

What’s most frustrating to me is that there are lots of opportunities for criticizing Obama’s foreign policy. That’s the area where he and I have the largest disagreements. You could talk about violating the sovereignty of our allies (drone wars), you could talk about eroding our national moral authority (continuing CIA black-sites and Gitmo), you could even bring him to task for spending too much money in Afghanistan (why are we still there, again?) There are lots of avenues to draw distinctions between yourselves and the President, yet they are passing you by.

Without a coherent policy alternative, your party will continue to retreat from the reality-based discourse. I’m trying to be flip, but with the whole belief that “polling was skewed” and “Romney was going to win in a landslide” and “Obama is coming to take away your guns”, you guys are looking a bit disconnected. What better way to reaffirm your involvement than to dig in your heels and offer up some policy alternatives. You might lose some voters, but then again, you will at least have a starting point for how to win them over.

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