Breakfast With Pence



I just got out of an on-the-record American Spectator breakfast with Rep. Mike Pence of the fiscally/socially conservative Republican Study Committee. Pence is something of a Republican rock star, although lately more of the Vince Neil variety than the Bono variety—anti-immigration Republicans reacted with a loud "No!" to Pence's border reform plans. Among the points:

– The Rovian idea that Republicans can vote for big government—Medicare Part D, No Child Left Behind—and maintain a permanent majority is in its last throes. "Teachers in Eastern Indiana will come up to me and say 'I want to talk about No Child Left Behind,'" Pence says. "And I'll say 'Can I start this conversation by explaining why I voted against it?' And they're always grateful. I don't know any constituency that likes No Child Left Behind."

– Pence rejects the idea that voters should send Republicans "to the woodshed" and install a Democratic majority for two years. He was optimistic that the GOP would hold Congress (more optimistic than other conservative Republicans I've talked to this month), that the tight races were "starting to break our way," and that the newer (smaller) majority would engage in "some soul-searching" over the next few months. "We don't need more liberal Democrats. We need more conservative Republicans."

– Pence specifically predicted that all three Democrat-targeted Indiana House Republicans would win, even though public polls show them losing. (Pence didn't mention those polls.) Rep. Mike Sodrel is in a "very pro-family" district where Democrat Baron Hill's vote against the marriage amendment is a 100-pound albatross. Rep. Chris Chocola is "running a flawless campaign." Rep. John Hostettler has "one of the best grassroots operations in the country," and opinon of him in the district is solid—"the concrete has hardened. I hope the DCCC spends $5 million in that race, because all of their bullets will bounce right off him."

– Immigration reform has moved further along than Pence, or many Republicans, thought it would after this summer's impasse. It's going to get solved before the 2008 election, when attention swings to the presidential race and White House candidates are going to start muscling in on the conversation.

Pence said all the right things about entitlement reform, but he struck a sour note (for me) on Terri Schiavo—he called the House's Schiavo debate "a moment when the House stood in the gap against a gale force wind of public discontent." That's not how I remember it; I don't think public opinion swung against the Republicans until they shoehorned themselves into the Schiavo hospice.

NEXT: 'A Redneck Cab Calloway'

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  1. Waiting for the purists to pop out and show what a horrible Congressman this guy is because of all the stuff on which they don’t agree with him.

  2. What did they serve for breakfast?

  3. jf,

    Yeah, like that statist and fascist enemy of liberty, Ron Paul. I disagreed with him once, so now he’s on my blacklist.

    Political purity is my God.

    P.S. Am I getting more Calvin-like? I got the boxed set of Calvin & Hobbes at my 40th birthday party (this past Saturday) and can feel Calvin’s evil ways racing through my blood already. I’m glad that people are actually buying things I want now, regardless of my age, instead of stupid lawyer gifts. I hate those: “Ooh, another tie. A briefcase. Wow.” I should’ve been a physicist. Then people would give me lasers and small thermonuclear weapons for my birthday.

  4. Did you get thoreau a small nuke too? DAMMIT! Mahmoud does not make exchanges!

  5. It’s okay, Timothy, Wali-Mart will take exchanges of nukes if they are still in their original packages.

  6. Freedom toast.

  7. PL:

    Ha ha ha. I was talking about the pinheads who will never forgive Russ Feingold for BCFR, for example.

  8. What did they serve for breakfast?

    Brain tumors.

  9. I am starting to think he may be right about the balance in the House.
    A month ago I would have sworn that the House was tipping Democrat for sure, and the Senate definitely not – now I am beginning to sense the opposit. Rasmussen is practically calling the Senate for the Democrats, and I get the feeling the House Democrats will improve, but come up short.

    This is my favorite Divided Government scenario: Republican President and Republican House, Democratic Senate. So maybe it’s wishful thinking.

  10. I don’t understand why republicans feel they have to support those they hate in the party for the sake of unity. Facism is denying that you believe in different things than the other guy just so the other other guy doesn’t get a leg up.

  11. This is my favorite Divided Government scenario:

    President Bill Clinton, Republican Senate and House. 😉

    Damn that 22nd Amendment. 🙂

  12. Damn that 22nd Amendment.

    Ayuh, always thought that the 2nd Amendment should be enough if the bastards get outaline.

  13. Isaac,

    I don’t credit Clinton with a damned thing as far as the economic boom of the 90s went. That happened despite him, not because of him. The divided government was what saved us, by keeping the stupid federal government’s hands off of the technology boom. And off of the rest of the economy, for the most part.

    I’d like a freak occurrence where a libertarian president got into power. Really freaky occurrence. Almost supernatural. Query: What are the odds that an LP president would survive a term without getting impeached (assuming no LPs in Congress)?

  14. Pro Libertate

    I don’t credit Clinton with the economic boom either. It’s just that in my opinion Bill was remarkably laissez-faire for a Dem. He talked a good game and pushed all the power groups buttons the right way and at the right times but managed to never give them anything they wanted.

    It just seems that Demprez/Repcong has worked better than Repprez/Demcong. I’m just not sure that it will work with any donkey but but our Bill.

  15. “We don’t need more liberal Democrats. We need more conservative Republicans.”

    Well, Congressman, it appears that we’re going to split the difference, because we’re about to be overwhelmed by conservative Democrats.

  16. Good luck, joe. If the Dems blow it this time, we’re going to really have problems. Got to have some sort of significant opposition, right?

    How about we just stop making laws and regulations for, oh, the next ten years? We can keep things running, just nothing new. No new wars, no new nothing (barring EXTRAORDINARY emergencies, like a nuke in Chicago). We could just leave the White House and Congress vacant. What the heck harm could that do?

  17. It will be too bad if Hostettler loses, as he was a rare Republican to oppose the war from the beginning. He ought to be winning by a record majority.

  18. Republicans will maintain the majority because it is the party of ideas, and offers solutions to pressing problems like terrorism and foreign policy.

    Indiana has an excellent congressional delegation and I’d like to see them all go back.

  19. Republicans will maintain the majority because it is the party of ideas, and offers solutions to pressing problems like terrorism and foreign policy.

    Heh… Heh, heh…Hah! HA! HAHA! HA HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

    Ah! That was funny.

  20. Unfortunately, their solutions include such classics as “Let’s invade Iraq,” “Let’s not use enough troops to secure Iraq,” “Let’s not have a plan for the post-war in Iraq,” “Let’s not worry too much about capturing Al Qaeda,” “Let’s suck up to Vladimir Putin,” and “Don’t worry, because we invaded Iraq, people across the Middle East are going to start waving little American flags any minute now.”

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