'More About Republicans Losing Than Dems Winning'

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:23 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - While Democrats hailed their historic victory and promised to take America in a "New Direction," one conservative rejected the notion that Democrats had achieved a voter "mandate."

"I think a fairly good case can be made that the story of Election 2006 is more about poorly-led House Republicans losing than Democrats winning," said John Berthoud, president of the National Taxpayers Union.

Berthoud noted the long-time trend of the majority party losing congressional seats in Congress in the sixth year of a presidency. He also noted Republicans' considerable "baggage" going into the election -- the Foley, Ney and Abramoff scandals, to mention a few.

"Beyond these individual characters, the party often prostituted itself to corporate interests," Berthoud said, pointing to the Medicare reform bill and the energy and transportation bills.

"In the process of pleasing their corporate friends, the House Republicans lost their soul...and their base. The GOP went so overboard that they allowed the Democratic Party (complete captives of the teacher unions, trial lawyers, labor union bosses, etc.) to take the moral high ground on the issue of "being in the pocket of special interests." That takes some doing," he said.

Berthoud rejected the notion that the election had something to do with "liberalism triumphing over the ideals of limited government." He suggested that if more Republicans had stood up for a "reduction in government" while they had majority control of Congress, fewer of them might have lost the election.

'Lack of fiscal discipline

Rep. Jeff Flake, the Arizona Republican who easily won re-election on Tuesday, said there was a strong headwind for Republicans this year, but even so, Republicans didn't help themselves, either.

Flake called it unfortunate that the House of Representatives didn't "move the ball on immigration," aside from demanding an enforcement-only strategy -- without discussion what comes next.

In an interview with Fox News on Wednesday morning, Flake suggested that a border-enforcement-only approach is why Arizona Republican Rep. J.D. Hayworth and Arizona Republican congressional candidate Randy Graff lost their elections.

"The enforcement-only option just didn't play very well," he said.

Flake also said the Republicans' "ack of fiscal discipline" has finally caught up with them.

"The House has just engaged in runaway spending for far too long," he said. While some things were outside Republicans' control this year, "the one thing we could have stopped, but didn't, was runaway spending."

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