The GOP has made quite a comeback since the shutdown debacle. While much of the praise goes to the speaker of the House and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman has been punching above his weight. This week Reince Priebus  denounced a Republican committeeman for bigoted comments, and in remarks to the RNC meeting cautioned the entire party on tone (“I’ve said many times before, that the policies and principles of this party are sound. However, as we look to grow the ranks of our party, we must all be very conscious of tone and choice of words when we communicate those policies effectively.”) Perhaps most important, he shrunk the 2016 primary calendar. The Post reported:

FILE - This Aug. 28, 2012 file photo shows Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus speaking at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. Priebus has been elected to lead the Republican National Committee for another two years. The 40-year-old RNC chairman ran unopposed in his bid for a second term, which begins less than three months after what most Republicans consider a disastrous election cycle. The GOP in November lost a competitive presidential election and gave up seats in the House and Senate. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File) Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus speaking at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. in 2012. (Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press)

The full committee voted at its annual winter meeting to approve a new rules package that would allow the four regular early states — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — to hold their nominating contests in February 2016 and penalize other states that might try to move their contests earlier than March 1.

In both the 2008 and 2012 nominating contests, states anxious to be one of the first contests have pushed the nominating calendar into early January. The result in 2012 was a long, sometimes nasty primary process that Republicans think hurt their chances of winning the presidency.

While the old calendar stretched six months from early January to late June — and was competitive for about half that span — the new one is intended to be as much as three months shorter — from early February to April or May.

That didn’t please some right-wingers who want to topple the “establishment” and/or give Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) months and months to recite his libertarian hymnal. However, Priebus correctly recognized that a competent campaign should and must be able to win over the primary voters in a reasonable time period, unite the party, avoid endless and pointless bloodletting and then turn to the general election as soon as possible. Together with limits on debates and a convention in June — also championed by Priebus — the GOP will avoid the trauma of 2012, which took a toll on the party’s reputation and its eventual nominee.

For delivering tough love and a streamlined presidential nominating process, the RNC chief deserves praise. Well done, Mr. Chairman.