- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 13, 2013

“Clearly something is not working in the GOP and hasn’t since its nervous breakdown caused by George W. Bush and exacerbated by the political consulting classes. The only part of the GOP that makes sense now is the tea party movement,” Craig Shirley — a Ronald Reagan biographer and presidential historian — tells Inside the Beltway.

Ronald Reagan left his party with a coherent philosophy that was not about compromise, as the current disinformation is being pushed by some cable TV jockeys and revisionist liberals. Reagan was about unshakable principles and enlightened conservatism,” Mr. Shirley notes.

Mr. Shirley will be part of an upcoming forum at Yale University that addresses “The Future of Conservatism.” Among his peers on the podium: Sen. John Barasso, Wyoming Republican; syndicated columnists Jonah Goldberg, Rich Lowry and Michael Barone, and New York Post editorial page editor William McGurn.

The Oct. 18 event was organized by the William F. Buckley Jr. Program on the campus and will address such topics as “Standing athwart history: Should conservatives accept a truce on social issues?” and includes an opening address by none other than James L. Buckley, former U.S. senator, undersecretary of state, federal appellate judge and brother of the aforementioned Mr. Buckley, the late founder of the National Review who marshalled public awareness for conservative thought.

THIRD PARTY FEVER

More Americans dream of a third political party than ever before: “60 percent of Americans say the Democratic and Republicans parties do such a poor job of representing the American people that a third major party is needed,” says Gallup analyst Jeffrey Jones, who reports that these findings set a record.

And for the first time, Republicans and Democrats roughly agree: 52 percent of the GOPers and 49 percent of Democrats say a third party is in order. Only a quarter of the respondents overall say the two major parties “adequately” represent the nation.

Mr. Jones is not surprised, pointing out that the two parties can’t agree on “the most basic of government functions,” like passing an annual budget to pay for federal programs. But third party fans shouldn’t get their hopes up.

“The desire for a third party is not sufficient to ensure there will be one,” Mr. Jones adds. “Structural factors in the U.S. election system and the parties’ own abilities to adapt to changing public preferences have helped the Republican and Democratic parties to remain the dominant parties in U.S. government for more than 150 years. Third parties that have emerged to challenge their dominance have not been able to sustain any degree of electoral success.”

A BLEAK F-MINUS

Pollster John Zogby gives President Obama an “F-minus” for his job performance in the past week.

“Although the GOP might get lots of the blame for the government shut down, it is President Obama’s failure because he’s the boss presiding over it,” Mr. Zogby says. “Americans are disgusted, and we are united at least in that sentiment. Less than 1 in 5 feel the country is on the right track. That is as low as it was when George W. Bush left the presidency amid crisis. Only 5 percent approve of the Congress’ job.”

THE RARE QUESTION

Phone calls, press releases, huddles, name calling and finger-pointing have yet to foster that elusive compromise between Republicans and the White House over gridlock on the federal shutdown and the debt ceiling. Perhaps something else is needed.

“In a spiritual sense, what will it take for leaders to solve this?” “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace asked U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry C. Black.

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