3) Retire Robert Gibbs. He is as disingenuous as Ron Ziegler; as buffoonish as Scott McClellan; as abrasive as Ari Fleischer without the accompanying competence; and as mean-spirited as Bill Moyers. He must be some sort of Republican plant? (David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel seem likewise increasing liabilities. Axelrod is knee-deep in conflict of interest problems (his former firm is paying out his final settlement in part from business generated from Axelrod’s present West Wing influence). Emanuel is the architect of ramming through these borrow-and-spend radical proposals all at once, on the theory that a left-wing government can be institutionalized and permanent constituencies established before the public catches on and the treasury can borrow no more.)
4) Stop the apologies abroad and emphasize the continuance of the war on terror (renditions, tribunals, Predators, etc.). Stay the course in Afghanistan and don’t broadcast our intentions in Iraq. The model is Truman and JFK, not McGovern and Jimmy Carter. Read up on Iwo Jima and Chosun, and cool the victim studies chants.
5) End the class warfare against those who make over $150,000 (or is it $200,000 or is it $250,000?), and begin to thank them for creating national wealth and giving so much of it back to the government (state, federal, and payroll taxes already result in a 50 percent plus bite for many). As it is now, Obama’s agenda is not so much against the wealthy (the rich own the homes he vacations in, organized the salons that enriched him in the campaign, and are among his most generous supporters and recipients of insider favors), as it is directed at those who wish to be wealthy.
And the Republicans?
1) Mea Culpa. At some point the opposition will have to offer counterproposals that are the opposite of the financial recklessness of 2001-06. On health care reform, they could offer tax incentives for private health care accounts, craft subsidies for the poor to purchase private catastrophic plans, and insist on tort reform. It won’t do any good to blast Obama for bankrupting the treasury if conservatives still vote in multi-billion-dollar agriculture subsidies, expand earmarks, and dream up new programs like No Child Left Behind and Prescription Drug expanded benefits. The Republicans gain from the Obama meltdown, but will be embarrassed when voters turn and ask , “And you? What have you got for us that is any better?” and they have no detailed reply.
2) Clean House. If opponents are to emphasize the Democratic sleaze—Rangel, Dodd, Murtha, the Obama Cabinet tax-cheaters, Axelrod, etc—then they must pledge no more Tom Delays, Duke Cunningham’s, Mark Foleys, and Jack Abramoffs. Parts of the success of the old Contract with America were provisions about congressional behavior.
3) Something Different This Time. Conservatives must appreciate that Obamism transcends the usual liberal challenge posed by past Democrats. For a variety of reasons, the liberal agenda this time is much more far-reaching and systematic. Obama proposes not just to grow government and absorb much more of the nation’s GDP into the state, but to create a lasting legacy of statism.
His “gorge the beast” philosophy of mega-deficits ensures the goal of “spreading the wealth” (cf. his campaign interview in which he was unfazed by the point that targeted tax cuts and economic expansion brought in greater federal revenue). Income is deemed arbitrary and compensation not rational; thus government is called upon to even things out given its greater wisdom and superior moral sensibility. The rapid growth in the state leads to permanent loyal constituencies of those who grant and receive entitlements—and could not be undone for generations, if ever. A religiosity surrounds these proposals, and critics (“fishy”) are targeted on email and websites, considered un-American and now un-Christian, in one of the most glaring examples of the utopian ends justifying devious means that we have seen in our lifetimes.
In exasperation I think Obama’s supporters will revert to the race card more often still, which in turn will only take his popularity even lower. Because of his inexperience and unfamiliarity with political hostility, I think Obama will press ahead on the present course, heightening partisan tensions, dividing the country, and ultimately diminishing his presidency further still. Again, the voters wanted youth, charisma, competence, fiscal sobriety, non-partisanship, and are getting radicalism with an increasing edge to it.
An inflation-, debt-induced mini-recovery, I think, will help Obama by early next year. But the laws of physics will then catch up to him, as a falling dollar, high interest, high inflation, low growth, and high unemployment return to choke off a return to former prosperity. His political fortunes will hinge on what part of this economic cycles the elections fall, and the degree to which he jettisons the Chicago style (I predict many of us critics will be fully audited by next April or see Team Obama increase the swarm on websites and postings). With savvy Democratic role models like Truman, JFK, and Clinton, it is suicidal that he pursues a Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, or Kerry agenda—as if he really thinks voters supported him to resurrect such unpopular policies.