EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

February 2, 2014

Column: Splintered GOP offers weak responses

Today we are exploring the State of the Union’s Loyal Opposition.

We are doing this because in these economically and internationally challenging times, we desperately need strong leadership at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue that is determined to prove that Washington really can work.

Tuesday night, after President Obama made it clear that he would do as much as he could with executive orders if our divided Congress continues to operate in self-gridlock, our attention naturally turned to the Republicans who run the House and wield minority power in the Senate.

Will they be setting a bold counter-agenda -- and will they tell us what they intend to do to improve such things as Obama’s imperfect health-care program?

After all, we knew we couldn’t judge the State of the Union and hopes for improving it by the bold phrases and go-it-alone intentions of the president. To evaluate America’s ability to resolve its crises with solutions, we must evaluate the state of the leadership of the Republican Party as well.

And Tuesday night, the Republicans followed Obama’s address with multiple responses that only demonstrated that the state of their party’s leadership is uneven -- and even unstately. And that is too bad, because we need a Republican Party that is as good as it once was -- led firmly and thoughtfully in Washington by conservative thinkers including Bob Dole, Howard Baker, Jack Kemp, and, going back a bit further, Mel Laird, Jerry Ford, and dozens more.

The Republicans treated the nation to not just one response, but three of them. (And of course, they weren’t really responses, because they were written and in some cases recorded prior to the address to which they were purportedly responding.)

The Republicans had only one official response -- Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a family-values conservative from Washington state, who is little known nationally even though she chairs the House Republican Conference.

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