posted by GeoT
“The candidate who purports to speak for populist rage in fact turns out to be the candidate of a national political leadership.”
by David Frum (CNN) — The Republican fratricide in the Nov. 3 special election in upstate New York may prove just an opening round of an even more spectacular bloodbath in Florida in 2010.
In New York, Republican feuding lost the party a seat in the House of Representatives. At stake in Florida is not only a senatorship — but very possibly Republican hopes for 2012 as well.
The battle in Florida pits Gov. Charlie Crist against former Speaker of the Florida House Marco Rubio. Both men claim to be conservative, pro-life, tax cutters. On the issues, they would seem to agree far more than they disagree.
But on one issue they have disagreed passionately: President Obama’s fiscal stimulus. Squeezed by his state’s desperate fiscal condition, Crist endorsed and campaigned for the Obama stimulus. Inspired by his conservative ideology, Rubio opposed stimulus.
Now Rubio is the darling of conservatives nationwide. Just this week it was announced that he would keynote next year’s annual CPAC conference in Washington. He has been profiled on the cover of National Review, endorsed by the Club for Growth, and feted by radio talk show hosts.
Marco Rubio has fiercely denounced Crist’s support for the Obama stimulus. His campaign ads show images of Crist and Obama side by side and damn the stimulus as “trillions in reckless spending” and a “terrible threat to a fragile economy.”
Rubio’s message of uncompromising, unremitting opposition to President Obama has won him an enthusiastic following among conservatives nationwide.
But here’s the most important unasked question raised by the enthusiasm for Rubio among Washington conservatives: What alternative policy should have been adopted back in the spring, when interest rates had been cut to almost zero and the economy was still collapsing? Are vague bromides about big government anything like an adequate response to the worst economic crisis experienced by any American under age 80?
If all we conservatives have to offer is oppositionism, then opposition is the job we’ll be assigned to fill.
Note: David Frum, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, was a special assistant to President George W. Bush in 2001-2002. He is the author of six books, including “Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again,” and the editor of FrumForum.com