We understand why some Republicans are frantic about their party chairman, Michael Steele. The Republican National Committee can finance only so many trips to strip-and-bondage clubs under his watch without, uh, losing the family values vote.
But whether the party should dump Steele isn't its biggest issue. The bigger issue is whether Republicans can shirk their "party of no" image. As Congress returns to work this week, lawmakers will move from health care to regulating the financial industry, overhauling immigration laws, crafting a climate change policy and rewriting the No Child Left Behind Act. On these issues and others, it's boiling down to whether Republicans will follow the lead of John McCain or Lindsey Graham.
McCain has drawn a William Travis-like line in the sand, declaring Republicans shouldn't work with Democrats on much other than national security. He points to the insular path Democrats took on the health care bill as his evidence that Republicans should just steer clear.
Indeed, some Democrats shunned Republicans and made cooperation impossible. But Graham nonetheless has co-authored an immigration plan with Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer and is working on a climate change alternative with Democrat John Kerry and Joe Lieberman.
Graham is taking internal heat over his stance, but we're glad to see him risk his political capital to pursue these larger goals, much as the old McCain did on reforming campaign finance and immigration laws.
First, the collegiality is good for the country. We need more consensus so the parties don't spend the next few years trying to repeal laws the other side passed.
Second, Republicans should want to work with Democrats so Democrats don't take the wrong turn. Consider immigration: Democrats could pass a bill that could prove too friendly to labor, including limiting the number of guest workers allowed into the country. Third, Republicans eventually will return to power. Stiff the Democrats now, and Democrats will stiff them later.
As a newspaper that recommended McCain for president in 2008, we'd love to see him return to his senses. Until that happens, the Graham path makes far more sense.
FROM A DALLAS MORNING NEWS EDITORIAL
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.