Did the midterms really matter?

Is it cynical or simply realistic to figure that Rubio and his freshman compadres have their work cut out for them in a party dominated by the likes of John Boehner and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who manifestly failed to shrink government when the GOP controlled the House, the Senate, and the White House? Boehner, who voted for No Child Left Behind, the Medicare prescription drug plan, and TARP, laid his weak hand on the table before the election with his Pledge to America. McConnell had to be strong-armed into kinda-sorta saying earmarks were worth chucking. In a post-election speech at the Heritage Foundation, he trotted just about every guaranteed-applause line in the book without mentioning hard-core spending he’d actually cut from the budget. Yes, he vowed to “stop the liberal onslaught” and work to repeal or minimize the impact of ObamaCare. He tossed out the softball about “freezing” or “cutting” discretionary spending, without an example and without clarifying if defense, the single-biggest item on that side of the federal ledger, is open to trimming. And what about entitlements, especially Medicare, that are the real poison pill?

Will the likes of Rubio and the Pauls (father and son) be able to move the establishment toward small-government action when they actually take office? Here’s hoping, but I’ll believe it when I see it. Ronald Reagan famously said “trust, but verify” when it came to dealing with the Soviets. The contemporary GOP commands less respect from the electorate. It needs to show voters something, and fast.