What a difference a year makes.
A year ago at this time Republican despair was at a Nixonian peak. The outgoing Republican president was nationalizing major banks; our nominee had just waged an incoherent campaign for the White House; and the ever so savvy mainstream media was planting GOP tombstones on the covers of news magazines.
We were toast.
But alas, nothing like letting the other guys try to run the show for a while to cure what ails you. If Pulp Fiction gave rebirth to Travolta, then the script the Democrats are writing could be right for the GOP comeback.
Notice I say “COULD”. We’re not there yet. But the signs are good. The Obama White House’s concession of the policy agenda to Congressional Democrats has turned the Change Presidency into the All Hat no Cattle Presidency.
And you have to love those Congressional Democrats. What a gift. Spending, corruption and no results. Pelosi’s Majority has managed to galvanize a GOP Conference in the House that had become flabby and undisciplined. Now they are marching lock step against government expansion and spending.
The mid-term election previews in New Jersey and Virginia earlier this month show that independent voters, critical to Obama’s winning coalition, flocked back to GOP candidates running against Washington and incumbents.
Bad midterms for incumbent White Houses are a pro forma occurrence. Bush avoided a rocky mid-term in 2002 because of 9/11. But Republicans truly could have above average pick-ups in Congress and state houses. With 37 governor races up and 2012 redistricting looming, a big year for GOP governors could shape Congress for the next decade. Much is at stake.
How do Republicans cash it in? Stay disciplined. Keep opposing the Democrat agenda that is rigorously out of step with those independent voters. Focus on economics and job creation. Articulate the cure to the recession in kitchen table populist ways that grab hold of an increasingly distressed middle class.
There’s danger for Republicans in this angry voter mood as well. We have our own embarrassing scandals and the anti-incumbent sentiment could become white hot and behead some Republicans.
Here in California, we can be thankful that Democrats appear to be allowing Jerry Brown to be their nominee for governor. This is roughly the equivalent of ABC putting Happy Days back on the air and hoping for a ratings bonanza.
In what is shaping up to be one of the greatest anti-incumbent environments we’ve ever seen, they’re rolling out the guy who has been in and around government (and some communes and monasteries) for the past 40 years. Brilliant!
The contrast the GOP nominee couldn’t be better, especially if it’s Meg Whitman (full disclosure, I’m working for her campaign). Meg is the perfect contrast to Brown. Old v. New. Insider v. Outsider. Job killer v. Job creator. No other GOP candidate offers that stark contrast.
And while much is made of Meg’s commitment to fund her campaign, she is also proving to be a heavy-duty fundraiser that is committed to reviving what has been a feeble and ineffective state party operation. Look for a well-funded party apparatus next year.
Also, Brown’s fundraising is unimpressive. Sure, he may not have a primary, but he’s far behind the pace of Phil Angelides four years ago and with what looks like a looming ballot war next November the public unions are going to be stretched thin. Republicans win the Governor’s office when they have the funding advantage.
So for convenience sake, when Republicans bow this week and thank our Maker for the bounty we do have and great country we still live in, here’s the quick reference guide for GOP thankfulness.
1) Obama – The problem with being the “change” guy is that you can’t really change much. His weakness in foreign relations is in full view.
2) Pelosi/Reid – The Democrat face of Congress couldn’t appear more out of touch with flyover America. Their join attack on citizens who appeared at summer Townhalls to voice their outrage with government run healthcare was manna.
3) TARP – The tales of misspent dollars are only beginning. Voters will want to take it out on the party in power.
4) ACORN – The Democrats voted to defund them in instant because they KNOW how bad it really is. These scandals will grow and multiply.
5) Meg Whitman – I’m telling you, she’s the future. Get your inaugural ball tickets in eBay.