The NRSC Pledge Is A Bad Idea

Yesterday, I was invited to a blogger teleconference that had been called about a proposal that was designed to pressure the GOP senators into standing up against a non-binding resolution that would condemn the surge. Later in the day, that pledge that was discussed went live online — and you may have heard about it. It’s getting positive attention all across the blogosphere.

Now, me? While I think it’s disgraceful that any Republican would sign onto such a resolution and strongly favor putting heat on them over it, I think this pledge is misguided. After you take a look at it, I’ll tell you why:

“If the United States Senate passes a resolution, non-binding or otherwise, that criticizes the commitment of additional troops to Iraq that General Petraeus has asked for and that the president has pledged, and if the Senate does so after the testimony of General Petraeus on January 23 that such a resolution will be an encouragement to the enemy, I will not contribute to any Republican senator who voted for the resolution. Further, if any Republican senator who votes for such a resolution is a candidate for re-election in 2008, I will not contribute to the National Republican Senatorial Committee unless the Chairman of that Committee, Senator Ensign, commits in writing that none of the funds of the NRSC will go to support the re-election of any senator supporting the non-binding resolution.”

Would a non-binding resolution be encouragement to the enemy? Yes, it would. Do I have a problem with people saying that they won’t contribute to any senator who signs on to such a non-binding resolution? Not at all. Personally, if you vote for this or you vote for amnesty, it’s a deal breaker with me. So, up to this point, I think everything in the pledge is a good idea.

But, here’s the part that’s problematic:

Further, if any Republican senator who votes for such a resolution is a candidate for re-election in 2008, I will not contribute to the National Republican Senatorial Committee unless the Chairman of that Committee, Senator Ensign, commits in writing that none of the funds of the NRSC will go to support the re-election of any senator supporting the non-binding resolution.

Look, the chances of the NRSC agreeing to something like this are practically nil. In fact, they shouldn’t agree to it because their whole job is to get Republicans elected in the Senate. Moreover, if this catches on or even just makes a really big splash, you’re going to have people trying to do the exact same thing on amnesty, embryonic stem cells, and who knows what other issues over the next two years. There are a myriad of different issues that could draw in thousands of people to sign a pledge like this.

So, while this effort will create pressure on these senators, which is a good thing — what it’s also going to turn into is a list of people who are pledging not to donate money to the NRSC. As I write this, there are already 6,138 people who are basically promising not to give money to NRSC in 2008. Is that supposed to be a good thing, well, for someone other than the Democratic Party?

If that last paragraph had just been left off, if it focused on cutting off funds to the actual senators involved and calling these senators and the senate leadership to get our message out, this pledge would have been something I could support. But because it’s in there, it has turned this pledge into a sister tactic to a protest vote. You know, “I’m mad because all those Republican senators voted for amnesty so I’m not doing anything to support any Republican on the ticket this year!” That’s exactly the sort of attitude that probably cost Conrad Burns, Jim Talent, and George Allen their seats, thereby handing control of the Senate over to the Democrats. And who knows how many Republicans in the House went down because of it? Now, we’re in January of 2007 and we’re already getting right back into the same mentality, except more people are participating this time.

Of course, I made these points in the blogger teleconference on this subject last night and even on the Hugh Hewitt show after he invited me to talk about it, but as far as I can tell, I’m the only dissenter on this.

PS: It does make a big difference if the NRSC is starved of funds and, no, people won’t just give the money elsewhere. After doing some fund raising last year, I can tell you that a big part of it is simply taking the time to ask for money. If people don’t give to the NRSC, they may not be asked elsewhere and that may mean millions less for GOP senatorial candidates in 2008. If you take millions of dollars out of the pocket of the NRSC, it’s not going to just hurt any Republicans who sign onto a non-binding resolution, it’s going to hurt every Republican senator in a close race, including senators we’re going to desperately want to see elected.

PS #2: I certainly hope these Republicans can be turned on this issue and failing that, I’m hoping that Mitch McConnell has the votes for a filibuster if need be. That’s the right thing to do and as a bonus, it might end up freeing however many thousands of people sign onto this petition from their promise not to donate money to the NRSC.

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