Republicans Must Stop Taking the Bait

By Andrea TantarosRepublican Political Commentator

Another week, another resuscitated debate on who is the better Republican. A moot, unproductive exercise in GOP digression, compliments of the mainstream media.

It all started on May 10th when CBS' Bob Schieffer brought up a popular topic -- the Republican Party's future -- with his guest Dick Cheney. Here's how the exchange went:

SCHIEFFER: "Rush Limbaugh said the other day that the party would probably be better off if Colin Powell left and just became a Democrat. Colin Powell said Republicans would be better off if they didn't have Rush Limbaugh out speaking for them. Where do you come down [on this]?"

CHENEY:"Well, if I had to choose in terms of being a Republican, I'd go with Rush Limbaugh, I think," Cheney replied. "I think my take on it was Colin had already left the party. I didn't know he was still a Republican."

This comment prompted the progressives to go wild. Robert Gibbs was all smiles that day at the White House press briefing when he was asked to comment on the opposing side's squabble. And I, like many Republicans, popped three Tums.


This past Sunday, Schieffer was at it again, this time with Powell.

"Rush will not get his wish, and Mr. Cheney was misinformed. I am still a Republican," Powell insisted prompting headlines across the country fueling round two of the Cheney - Powell mano-a-mano.

After Democrats suffered their worst week to date last week with Pelosi lying to Congress, insulting the CIA and Obama getting rudely rebuffed on funding by members of his own party for not having a plan to close Gitmo, the media had to do something to change the topic. What better strategy than to re-start the Republican food fight on party loyalty between Cheney, Powell (and hopefully Rove, Rush, Newt, and whoever else is foolish enough to bite)?

But these guys are hardly fools. They are extremely smart men. And they should know better to deflect and ignore such trickery. When have you ever heard a show host ask Harry Reid who's the better Democrat: Pelosi or Hillary Clinton? Nothing delights the left more than to be able to run headlines like: "Cheney and Powell Go to War," "Powell Fires Back at Limbaugh and Cheney" and "Cheney Powell Feud Continues." It's also in their interest to take someone as popular as Powell, and pit him against someone as unpopular as Cheney, especially when the former V.P. has recently been so vocal.

With national security on the front burner, a screaming match over whose red stripes shine brighter is an unnecessary diversion. Both Cheney and Powell care about the future of the party, and though Powell temporarily lost his mind and endorsed Obama, we should embrace his advice to help get the right back on track and away from an insular, exclusive and bullish posture. They should be singing off the same song sheet on security instead of launching low blows.

Having a war hero and former Vice President hash it out in the press will not move the party forward. It's a distraction from the real issues of the day and prompts an internal and external rift that invokes GOPers to shoot into the tent instead of outwards. What unites us is greater than what divides us. It's time to stop taking the bait.

Andrea Tantaros is a conservative commentator, columnist and former Press Secretary to the House Republican Conference. Her commentary can be found at www.andreatantaros.comand