The Republicans' "Pledge to America" unveiled last week reflects the difficulty in the transition the GOP hopes to make in the November elections — from the minority party in Congress to more equal footing with Democrats, if not the outright majority.
One line of thought holds that Democrats are sinking fast enough on their own, so let them. Just get out of the way and let the weight of their Big Government policies, propounded during nearly four years controlling Congress and nearly two years running everything in Washington, do its thing.
The other argument is that Republicans, in asking Americans to hand them congressional control, or at least a piece of it, must say what they would do with that control. The GOP fell short the last time it was in charge, so it's obligated to detail how things would be different if given another shot.
Thus, the document Republicans produced last week walks a narrow line. It's not a campaign platform or a legislative blueprint. It's more a statement of philosophical conviction and direction — one that mostly succeeds in assuring voters that Republicans have heard their demand for a stop to the Democrats' agenda of increased spending, higher taxes and expansion of federal reach into their everyday lives.
Democrats, who would have lashed the GOP as the "party of no" if it hadn't issued some kind of statement, quickly pounced on the pledge of principles as failing to add up mathematically, while saying a commitment to cut waste and freeze federal spending isn't serious or useful.
They attacked the Republicans' pledge to freeze federal hiring as a jobs killer that will goose unemployment — inadvertently, perhaps, underscoring what many suspected: In a recessionary economy, Democrats' chief jobs initiative was swelling the ranks of government workers.
Certainly the GOP's pledge isn't perfect. But it is responsive to what Americans have been saying the past year and a half: Enough!