Finding a spokesman for the Republican Party right now is reminiscent of the “Who’s on First?” routine made famous by Abbott and Costello.
While the GOP more or less had Mitt Romney warming up in the bullpen when Sen. John McCain lost the 2008 presidential race, there doesn’t seem to be anyone ready to bring in in relief of Romney, who’s walked off the mound and gone to the showers.
Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be that big of a deal. But with Medicaid payments to doctors facing cuts, taxpayers looking at the paycheck whammy of reverting to the higher pre-George W. Bush administration income tax rates and the clumsy fiscal cleaver known as sequestration seeming more and more possible next month, somebody needs to get out there and pitch whatever ideas Republicans have for dealing with these issues.
Clearly President Obama is dealing for the Democratic side, and the lack of a counterpart across the aisle is making negotiations on critical aspects of government difficult. With the GOP in charge of the House and having the ability to filibuster in the Senate, there has to be some meeting of the minds between the two parties.
From appearances, Republican higher-ups are still reeling from an election that has dumfounded them, a loss when they were certain they had it in the win column. And the fractures that helped create that loss for the GOP — hardliners vs. moderates — are showing little evidence of healing. For instance, conservatives have said they’d battle against Republican Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia in her challenge of Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., in the 2014 elections. There’s talk that Georgia’s Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Moultrie, may face opposition from within his party when he runs for re-election.
The fact is that the art of compromise has disappeared as hardliners on the left have gained influence in the Democratic Party and their counterparts on the right have pulled the GOP in their direction. Right now, Democrats are basking in the euphoria of retaining the White House and realize the political pragmatism of lining up behind President Obama.
Republicans, however, have a two-fold problem. They will have to find compromise solutions with Democrats, but first they have to find compromises — and a direction — within their own party.
Meanwhile, the clock is ticking closer and closer to Jan. 3, when a lot of bad things will happen if political leaders don’t do their jobs. For Republicans, that means finding someone willing to step up — someone other Republicans are willing to stand behind.