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Ponnuru: Down with the GOP!

Following a meme that's been going around conservative circles for the better part of two years (at least in private conversation), Ramesh Ponnuru takes to the op-ed page of the New York Times to declare that when it comes to the 2006 midterms: We're better off losing.

To wit:

The question is whether [the GOP] will have a reduced majority or no majority. And outright loss might be preferable. A narrower House majority would most likely accomplish even less than the current one has. The party's small moderate caucus would gain in power and use it to frustrate conservatives. With no conservative reforms on the horizon, congressmen would revert to the pork strategy.

A straight loss, on the other hand, would make the Republicans hungrier and sharpen their wits. Freed from the obligation of cobbling together thin majorities for watered-down legislation, Republicans would be able to stand for something attractive. Some conservatives worry that Republican officialdom will see defeat as a reason to turn left. But that didn't happen after the last major Republican defeat in 1992. Then, conservatives were able to persuade the party that it had not lost power because it was too far right. They would make the same case this winter, but with more voices in the news media than they had back then.

As Ponnuru also points out, winning in 2006 wouldn't be so great for the Democrats, who would have the illusion of power, but no real ability to act.

So, there you have it ... 2006: The hot-potato election.