Texas Fried Conservatism

dont-mess-with-texasBy Ryan McNeely

Chris Cillizza notes that over the weekend in separate television appearances, the two Republicans in charge of House and Senate elections this fall went out of their way to claim that the employment situation was better under President Bush and that Bush himself is on the verge of a popular resurgence:

People had jobs when Republicans were not only in charge but George Bush was there,” said National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press”.

John Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program that “Bush’s stock has gone up a lot since he left office,” adding: “I think a lot people are looking back with more fondness on President Bush’s administration, and I think history will treat him well.

Sensing that it may not be a good short-term electoral strategy to tell people that “history” will prove them wrong, Ramesh Ponnuru tries to downplay these statements as simple home-state niceties: “Cillizza is a savvy guy, but let’s not forget that both John Cornyn and Pete Sessions are from Texas.” Indeed, let’s not forget that the GOP has chosen two Texans to lead their national election campaigns during a cycle when they are supposedly attempting to break from the presidency of Texan George W. Bush, much like when they replaced Texan Dick Armey with Texan Tom Delay as Majority Whip in 2003.

Texas is a big state so it’s not necessarily strange to have Texans in a party’s leadership positions. But the fact is the Republican Party leadership is dominated by southern white men, some of whom belong to a state Republican Party that advocates – in 2010 – criminalizing sodomy, revoking American membership in the U.N., and a variety of other nutty, destructive, and unconstitutional ideas. The simplest explanation for Sessions’ and Cornyn’s defense of Bush is that they believe that the Bush presidency was successful. But even if you chalk up their comments as some sort of harmless regional solidarity with the former president it just bolsters the case that Republicans are still the party of Texas-style southern radicalism.