By Rich Lowry
The Hendricks County Flyer
Fri Mar 22, 2013, 04:47 PM EDT
It is not just the winter of Republican discontent. It will in all likelihood be the spring, summer, and fall, as well.
The national party is leaderless and nearly issueless, but besides that, is thriving and in fine fighting trim.
It used to be that the Republicans were nasty people because they exploited "wedge issues," which was the pejorative way to describe issues that were popular with the public but made Democrats uncomfortable. The phrase has been retired. Even if it weren't, it's not clear what Republican issue it would apply to anymore.
Once, taxes and national security were the party's pillars, supplemented by domestic issues like welfare reform and crime and by symbolic issues like the Pledge of Allegiance and flag burning. Now, the pillars are in disrepair.
Cuts in income taxes don't have the same resonance because rates are so much lower than 30 years ago. Republicans formerly had success with across-the-board tax cuts that reduced rates at the top and for everyone else. By focusing on raising rates on the top, Obama has forced them into almost exclusively defending "tax cuts for the rich."
In theory, national security is still a Republican strength, but it doesn't have as much resonance as in the years after Sept. 11.
The party's premier new idea during the past few years is Medicare premium support, a worthy and creative proposal and, as it happens, an unpopular one.
The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll has Democrats leading on: looking out for the middle class, Medicare, health care, reducing gun violence, Social Security, immigration, taxes, and the economy. The good news for Republicans is that they lead on everything else. The bad news is that everything else is only spending, the deficit, and national security.
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An NPR broadcast examines the question of how communities can better prepare for tornadoes like the one that struck Moore, Okla. on Monday. The broadcast features commentary from Michael Fitzgerald, who reported a five-part disaster series for the CNHI News Service.
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