Following the recent election there's a lot of myth and projection going on, but I'm also seeing a fair bit of sober thought on the GOP side to go with it. Thats good. The first step, and in many ways a critical one, is going to show itself early: who gets chosen to the GOP's leadership positions in the House and Senate? Good choices there will have a multiplier effect. So will poor choices. Leadership matters.
So, what kind of leadership? And what does it take to be effective? Well, I'll get to that, but first I'm going to hand the floor to someone else. Dean Barnett has been involved in conference calls with the handful of congress-folk who seek various leadership roles. He picked up a question from NZ Bear's site, and has been asking this on various conference calls:
"What books have you read about Islamic terrorism against America and the West?"
That's it. that's all. Thus far, asked in 3 conference calls.
Now, he didn't get everyone. Book learnin' ain't everything, or even a large minority of everything. There's a lot of time pressure on Congressfolk. Plus, the kind of personality that gets people elected to Congress is often a personality that isn't exactly book-centric. You could repeat this experiment across the aisle, and I'd expect similar results (many would probably cite Michael Moore's movie instead, from the laudatory party showing after its release).
So we grant all of that. And yet....
When you're facing the greatest issue of your time, you'd better have a perspective derived from something more than the daily newspapers, and extrapolation from experiences in your local district. The whole War on Terror, soon to be The Islamic War, is an area in which the GOP needs to do significantly better than it has done. But that's impossible without elected leaders who really grok the magnitude of what we face, and grasp the issues. Only then can they perform the twin tasks of articulating all that to the public, and pushing their party to get its act in gear. Barnett's experience suggests that the GOP's failure in the latter 2 areas may be closely derived from a failure in the first 2... and 5 years after 9/11, coming from the non-insane party, that's a truly frightening thing to contemplate.
All this is even more true for folks who aspire to leadership roles, in the party that for good or ill is going to play a disproportionate role in the war we're all engaged in. A war that's still very much in its early phases - or perhaps more accurately, not yet metastisized into its full growth.
But it will, for reasons that have very little to do with the USA's internal politics. And the time to start getting seriously prepared for it - at all levels - is yesterday.