The mainstream media says republicans are "re-branding" the GOP. Republicans say they are "reviving" the party. In 1994, Newt Gingrich gave us the "Contract With America". Now, the minority-party republicans are trying to "get back to basics", to find their core principles, to "let americans know what republicans stand for", by initiating a series of "talks" or "dialogues" with the american people by hitting the road. And....voilà!... a new "contract" is born called the National Council for a New America, a how-the-GOP-should-move-forward group, a "listening tour". Everyone knows the GOP is suffering an identity crisis of sorts now, a reliance on old ideas instead of fresh ideas. The National Council for a New America's mission statement reads, in part: "Today, we are launching the National Council for a New America (NCNA), a caucus of Congressional leaders gathering the expertise of national leaders and doers. We hope that will form the foundation of a concerted, policy-based forum to listen to, partner with, and empower the American people with ideas and solutions that speak directly to the needs of our great nation. This forum will engage in a conversation with America that seeks to remove ideological filters, addresses the realities we are confronting, and speaks to the challenges our citizens are facing." -------------------- The NCNA was an idea hatched by House republicans including John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Mike Pence, Pete Sessions, and Roy Blunt that kicked-off this weekend. It's national panel of experts referenced in that mission statement include: Governor Haley Barbour Governor Jeb Bush Governor Bobby Jindal Senator John McCain Governor Mitt Romney The NCNA wishes to focus on certain topics it feels are vital for this country (and rebuilding the GOP brand): 1. Economy: Real Solutions for Economic Recovery 2. Education: Preparing Our Children to Succeed 3. Energy: Solutions for Energy Independence 4. National Security: Defending American Liberty and Freedom Notice the lack of social issues in this platform (the striking absence of references to abortion, immigration, gay rights, or other wedge issues). Rush Limbaugh has always been leery of "moderates" and is leery of this "listening tour": "I'm weary of the same people who drove us to this point telling us what we have to do now. I'm not including Jeb in that. Jeb was not part of the campaign last year, But everybody else on this bus tour -- for the most part -- is responsible for where we are. We did it their way in 2008. We did it with the candidate and approach that they thought would work. Pandering. 'We got to listen to the American people.' I maintain that when a politician says we have to listen to the American people and learn, we are pandering. We're not leading." Tony Perkins of the "Family Research Council", a conservative christian group, is livid that this renegade group is "forsaking their religious base". The Family Research Council issued a withering critique of what Rush called the "bus tour", because the agenda contains no "values issues": eschews talk of religious liberty and abortion and gay marriage. Here is part of the FRC's statement: The effort only underscores the Republicans' present identity crisis, as the GOP leadership kicked off the campaign devoid of the values that once caused voters to identify with the party. The group's priorities, which were unveiled at a pizza parlor press conference, include the economy, health care, education, energy, and national security. Notice anything conspicuously absent? Former Gov. Jeb Bush explained the values void by saying it was time for the GOP to give up its "nostalgia" for Reagan-era ideas and look forward to new "relevant" ideas. (Yes, because that worked so well for Republicans in 2006 and 2008!) Bush ignored the fact that abandoning the array of principles that Reagan espoused is exactly what got the GOP into this mess.