MEL MARTINEZ; A Good Choice

Article excerpt

Presidential adviser Karl Rove generally is seen as a master political strategist - and that perception will only grow as a result of Mel Martinez's elevation to general chairman of the Republican National Committee.

In his new role, Florida's junior senator will serve as chief fundraiser and party spokesman. Someone else, with the title of chairman, will be in charge of the GOP's everyday operations.

Martinez will be a nice contrast to Howard Dean, his Democratic counterpart.

Dean is prone to say outrageous things and at times is woefully uninformed.

He set back his party's efforts to cut into the Republicans' religious base, for example, by saying his favorite New Testament book was Job.

Martinez seems thoughtful and speaks carefully.

Also, polls have shown that voters are turned off by shrill partisanship - and though Dean has an "attack dog" reputation, Martinez is likable and reaches out across party lines.

Also, Martinez's spokesman says he will promote core Republican principles in his new position.

Some pundits attribute the Republican losses earlier this month to a trend toward liberalism.

Not true. A few days before the election, a CNN poll found Americans overwhelmingly still wanted less government - not more.

Republicans lost control of Congress because they were seen as the problem rather than the solution.

A costly prescription drug program, the Alaskan "bridge to nowhere," countless "earmarks" - they all added up.

Deficits grew, and so did voter dissatisfaction with the majority party.

Martinez is in an excellent position to help his party find its bearings and to plead its case with voters.

He can also help Republicans mend their fences with Hispanics, the most rapidly growing minority group.

The GOP had make inroads for years, but that ended this fall - when, The Washington Post says, 69 percent voted Democratic. …