Worse yet, even if handsome, articulate Ivy Leaguers in Brioni suits were heading the party, they would have nowhere to lead it. When congressional Republicans caved in on the trillion-dollar Troubled Assets Relief Program — first to then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and then to President Obama — they surrendered any claim to being the party of free enterprise. Shortly after the original TARP vote in October, I saw Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), a leading young conservative, and asked him which provision of the 1994 Contract With America provided for nationalizing the banking industry. He shrugged and laughed, which is all the GOP can really do in this winter of discontent.
The GOP is crumbling