Christine Todd Whitman: The GOP’s Lightweight Champion – By George J. Marlin

A week after former E.P.A. Director Christine Todd Whitman proved in her June 25 testimony before Congressman Jerrold Nadler’s House Judiciary Subcommittee that she’s a public policy lightweight, I received a Whitman-signed Republican Leadership Council fundraising letter that contained additional evidence of her ignorance of contemporary affairs.

In the letter she complains that “the exclusionary and divisive tactics often employed by the far right” were responsible for the Democrats taking control of Congress.

This is not the first time she’s publicly attacked conservatives.  In a 2006 fundraising appeal letter for her “It’s My Party, Too” PAC (which listed former Congressman Mark Foley as an advisory board member), Mrs. Whitman insisted that only moderate Republicans are true conservatives.  She contended that Republicans “who oppose abortion, oppose common sense environmental initiatives, demand a Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage” are “right-wing extremists.”

And after devoting several paragraphs to puerile pseudo-philosophical discourse, Mrs. Whitman reached the bizarre conclusion that “the most popular and successful Republicans in the country are moderates.”

Whitman, who was elected and re-elected Governor of New Jersey with mere pluralities – 49 percent in 1993 and 47 percent in 1997 – appears to be unaware that the darkest period in the GOP’s history was when her kind – the liberal east coast establishment – controlled the Republican Party.  This elitist country club Wall Street crowd was responsible for presidential defeats in 1932, 1936, 1940, 1944, 1948 and 1960.  During the political hegemony of these so-called “moderates” (1932-1962) the Republicans controlled the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives for only 4 of those 30 years.

This historical record clearly demonstrates that Mrs. Whitman’s forebears promotion of moderate Democratic “Lite” public policy formulas, was consistently rejected at the polls.

Meanwhile, since those right-wingers Mrs. Whitman loathes took command of the GOP leadership in 1964, the party has been victorious in 7 of 11 presidential elections and maintained majorities in the Senate for 18 years and 12 years in the House.

By appealing to fiscal conservatives, proponents of strong national defense and supporters of traditional Judeo-Christian moral values, these Republicans successfully constructed a sustainable majority coalition.

Frankly, the so-called “moderate” voters Mrs. Whitman gushes about barely exist nowadays.  Most political analysts agree that the “pursuit of the center” election strategy is no longer viable.  Hence, victorious GOP national strategists have employed voter sophisticated energizing techniques that identify and turn out the right-wing base in the sun-belt and Mid-West regions.

In 2004 this approach paid off big time at polling booths:  George W. Bush carried a majority of the popular vote (a feat not achieved since 1988) and for the first time in 70 years the party of a re-elected president picked up seats in both houses of Congress.

And in 2006, Republicans who faltered were primarily from the eastern “moderate” wing of the party.  GOP Congressional delegations from New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania were severely diminished or wiped out.

What Whitman and her liberal allies side-step is the real reason for Republican losses:  the abandonment of conservative principles.  In recent years, GOP Congressional leaders were corrupted by the temptation to hold on to power for its own sake.  They became “incumbocrats” who pandered to special interest groups in order to hold on to their lofty positions.  They simply lost their philosophical compass.  Political expedience – campaign fundraising and providing access to lobbyists and contractors – overwhelmed their political philosophy.  This prevailing attitude led to fiscal mismanagement, ethical lapses, financial improprieties and moral scandals. 

Republicans lost their Congressional majorities not because Mrs. Whitman’s hysterical pleas fell on deaf ears, but because conservative base voters disillusioned by the GOP’s abandonment of the fiscal, economic and social principles on which they were elected – sought revenge at the polling booth or stayed home in disgust at what the GOP Congress wrought.

Sadly, Mrs. Whitman and her dwindling band of political dilettantes fail to grasp that if the GOP champions their leftist recommendations, the party will revert to the minority status it held during the heyday of Whitman’s political hero – Nelson Rockefeller.

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