Thursday, January 29, 2009

gop - who are we?

Washington Post | "We're in this rebuilding time," Monica Notzon, a Washington-based Republican fundraiser, helpfully explained this month. "Trying to figure out who we are."

It is into this new world order, this Washington version of an existential whorl, that a steadfastly loyal group of Republicans descend this week, skidding into an iced-over landscape and holing up at the Capital Hilton beginning yesterday for a four-day winter meeting of the Republican National Committee. (Not to be missed on the restorative agenda: a "Reboot the RNC" open house.) They've themed the whole get-together "Republican for a Reason," and left it at that.

"Republican for a reason?" says Stephen Scheffler, a committeeman from Iowa, pausing before a banner carrying the slogan. "I don't know what that means."

This is not an occasion for high-fives. The committee is getting together to choose a new chairman, settling an unusually intense competition that includes former Maryland lieutenant governor and current omnipresent talking head Michael Steele. It will also consider whether to issue a call to put the kibosh on President Obama's stimulus plan and any future industry bailouts. A few young women in blue T-shirts hand out stickers promoting a candidate for chairman, Saul Anuzis, of Michigan. None of the other candidates seem to bother.
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The members linger over soup in the hotel restaurant and chat quietly in the hallway. Ron Kaufman -- a committeeman who was tight with Daddy Bush -- tries to sell a couple of fellow members on the virtues of Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead." Eventually the group files behind closed doors to commiserate in secret. Beginning today it will open things up for publicly consumable speechifying.