Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Well, if it’s Been Disastrous for Them, Think How it Must Feel for the Rest of Us

The Hill’s headline, “Analysis: July has been disaster for Obama, Hill Dems” almost made me laugh.


See, if July has been disastrous for Obama and the Democrats, then it’s been absolutely brutal for the people who have lost jobs, seen their housing values continue to decline, watched the dollar sinking, and wondered when the promised recovery would begin. Disaster for politicians mean bad poll numbers, potential ouster, and a multi-million dollar book deal supplemented by paid speaking engagements. For the rest of us, the disaster is a little more meaningful.

Not that the story is wrong. There is a sense that less than a year into his first term, the political ground is starting to shift away from Obama’s hope and rapid-fire progressive change, although what precise political rewards the GOP might gain from his administrations stumbling are still more than a year away. That’s a long time in politics. There is no doubt that some of the early “wins” are sapping the President’s political capital--the cap and trade bill was rammed through but the public is skeptical both of the bill and the tactics used to get it done, the stimulus seems more and more of a failure with every passing month that leads us to higher unemployment and economic uncertainty, and the prodigious Pile o’ Debt is doing a better job of scaring voters than it is in scaring up new jobs.

I think a charitable reading would be that the administration overplayed a few hands and are still paying the cost, but it will take a bit to understand the repercussions both for the administration and for those of us who have to live with their decisions.

None of which changes the fact that Republicans should be cautious. Not only are voters still distrustful of their governance, but when some of the plans fail the blame will be placed at the feet of the Republicans (regardless of the fact that if Obama could rally his troops effectively, there isn’t a thing the Republicans can do to stop legislation from powering through). So, if health care reform fails, the headlines during the midterms will be about the health care crisis and the obstructionist Republicans.

Which isn’t a reason to sell principles for votes--that is, there is no reason for principled conservatives to sign on to a reform package that doesn’t fit conservative principles. It is, however, a warning to both better explain why we’re opposed to these reforms and to find better solutions that do fit our principles. If we can’t explain why we oppose something and offer a better alternative, then we aren’t going to win any hearts and minds in the voting booths.

Strangely, there could be danger for Republicans in some of Obama’s failings.


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