What Republican leadership should look and sound like

For Republicans nationally and especially for those of us who call Illinois home it is good to recall what leadership looks like. Videos of President Ronald Reagan serve that purpose nicely. A more updated example would be video clips of General David Petraeus testifying before Congress last year and his many media interviews since then. His performance during the past eighteen months with the American troop surge in Iraq will go down in history as simply brilliant.

For what real leadership sounds like, examples are easy to find. Anyone who wants to refresh their memory, I have a few recommendations. First up is a speech given by former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker to the National Association of Counties back in April. After you listen to the speech you can decide for yourself whether or not I’m right about how Congressional Republicans might actually be taken seriously again.

The video of the speech is divided into seven parts and linked here. It’s a devastating overview of the fiscal state of the nation, and I was pleased to hear Mr. Walker point out specifically the leadership crisis we’re facing today. If anyone thinks the spend-ever-more Democrats are able to provide fiscal leadership, Walker’s speech might very well begin to convince you otherwise

The fact is the Republican Party “brand” is suffering because when Republicans held power they too often governed like Democrats. Instead of doing anything to fix the fiscal mess, they in fact made it worse. The logical conclusion is that the first thing Republicans must do is confess their sins and commit to bring about, as Newt Gingrich‘s book title suggests, “Real Change: From the World That Fails to the World That Works.”

It’s easy to not be impressed when we listen to our Republican candidates for the U.S. House or the U.S. Senate these days. But the next videos I want to recommend serve as good reminders that articulating complicated and/or controversial issues is actually quite possible.

The Hoover Institution produces a show called “Uncommon Knowledge,” the archive of which is posted on National Review Online here. One of the recent interviews includes a series with Douglas Feith, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, where he talks about his recent book “War and Decision.” Feith was in the thick of the pre-Iraq invasion decision making, the post-overthrow of Saddam decisions, and he speaks frankly about his experience. Feith shows how you can look and sound credible even while admitting honest mistakes.

If our Republican members of Congress had half of Feith’s ability there’s a good chance more Americans would understand why we went to war as well as what is at stake in Iraq. Instead, the “Bush lied people died” revisionism is believed by too many people and highly paid Republican campaign consultants advise Republican candidates to ignore the war completely.

Speaking of revisionist history, another interview is with both Victor Davis Hanson and Christopher Hitchens about recent World War II revisionists, centering on Pat Buchanan‘s recent book, “Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War.” This interview is also divided up into several parts, and the promo for part one includes this:

“In terms of the origins of the conflict, Buchanan says essentially that Britain’s guarantee to protect Poland in the event of a German invasion made the war inevitable. Hanson counters that Germany’s invasion of Poland was not an isolated act. Hitchens says Buchanan is ‘consciously trying to deceive us.'”

The challenges we face have all been exacerbated by Republican Party leadership failures. If the tide is to be turned, our guys and gals will first have to learn how to properly articulate GOP solutions to the policy problems. The above videos are a mere drop in the bucket of good material and good examples to follow. It’s never too late for them to enroll in school.

Click here to view a preview of the film “I.O.U.S.A.” from David Walker’s foundation, which premiers later this month.