Don't Blame Me — I Voted for the Other Guy
When do those bumper stickers come out? You know, the ones which say, "Don't blame me -- I voted for the other guy." There does seem to be an awful lot of angst over the sub-performance of the White House midway through the First Hundred Days. And those presidential poll numbers are certainly floating downward.
Jake Tapper asks if Barack Obama is doing too much. Howard Fineman complains that "the American establishment is taking his measure and, with surprising swiftness, they are finding him lacking." And Camille Paglia unloads on everything from Barack Obama's incompetent staff to the petty attack on Rush Limbaugh. Even Tom Friedman has taken to pleading with the president to focus on the plunging markets and financial recovery efforts. Then there are the conservatives who have become apoplectic and, frankly, entirely reengaged by the fear of a fundamental shift away from the free market system in America.
The swiftness of the criticism seems remarkable given the reverence which the media displayed toward Obama and the presidential transition which most commentators regarded as unusually smooth. But all honeymoons must end, and it seems Obama's is ending more abruptly than most. Warren Buffet spoke for many when he said he senses the economy "has fallen off a cliff." The same might soon be said for the confidence in the president.
The reasons are many for Obama's increasingly hostile reviews -- the cratering economy, the embarrassing nominees and non-vetting, the defections from Democratic ranks on Obama's spending plans, and the growing unease from center-right pundits who convinced themselves and others that Obama was really a moderate.
So can Republicans now sit back and relax, safe in the knowledge that Obama is not the political colossus he was once thought to be? That would be foolhardy. But the flak which the president is getting from the punditocracy and the resistance which he is encountering from Congress suggest that Republicans may not be in the political wilderness for as long as they once feared.
In order to hasten their return, Republicans would be wise to do five things.
First, don't get distracted. The Rush Limbaugh baiting by the White House seems to have largely backfired and the Republicans should let it die. David Frum decided to engage in race-baiting against Rush Limbaugh? Ignore it, as one would any stunt designed to gin up audiences and heighten the protagonist's profile. The favorite game of the MSM is starting or encouraging food fights on the Right (or better yet, getting attention-starved conservative pundits to do the dirty work for them). But it benefits the Republicans not at all to spend time castigating one another when there are more important matters at hand.