After the crushing defeat, Republicans face a tough road back. How do we get there? I’ll be addressing this in the next few columns.
The first thing is to learn from the lessons of the past sixteen years. Under George W. Bush, the left has been unglued ever since Bush won Florida with the Supreme Court foreclosing the option of a “keep recounting until the Democrats win” approach that would later be used in Washington state in 2004.
For eight years, what columnist Michelle Malkin calls Bush Derangement Syndrome has reigned in disturbing detail. Books written about assassinating the President, and a movie made about the same event. Bush has been compared to Hitler. People have had stress, anger, and some of the most educated, intelligent people you can find have written some of the most insane drivel you can imagine.
Liberals have pushed the most inane scandal in American history, the Valerie Plame scandal. They’ve celebrated convictions of political leaders. How bad did it get for the liberals? Two words. Keith Olbermann.
The eight years previous to that, Republicans helped keep Arkansas humming with an anti-Clinton book and a media industry that charged the President with every crime from serial Cocaine use to murder in the first degree. There was the unseemly digging into Clinton’s numerous affairs in Arkansas.
Now, Clinton’s impeachment for perjury and obstruction of justice (let the record show that Clinton was not impeached for sex) was justified and the people who led that effort made a heroic stance. The process of searching for political scandal, hoping for it, and agitating for impeachment and removal long before 1998, however, was unseemly and a distraction. On the bright side, Republicans were not dreaming of Clinton being shot, but rather him being impeached. Bob Tyrell wrote a book that ended with Clinton’s surprising conviction on Whitewater-related charges. Incriminating White House tapes discovered the day before the Senate vote served as Tyrell’s Deus ex machina.
Neither the Bush Derangement Syndrome, nor enthusiastic Clinton-hating helped our country. Nor can it be argued to have helped the parties where those approaches were dominant. Democrats lost the 2002 and 2004 election on Bush derangement. They won in 2006 with Bush’s weak response to Hurricane Katrina (yes, Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin were far more culpable, but still as President, Bush bore some responsibility) and the Iraq War was mismanaged. Democrats recruited good candidates and ran a campaign on cleaning up Washington (sure, they were lying, but what do you expect?)
Republicans didn’t distribute 40 million copies of the Clinton Chronicles to win the House in 1994. They talked about what the Clinton Administration was doing wrong and provided an alternative to that vision. And in 1998, when House leadership thought Republicans would enjoy a large turnout among the GOP base over the prosecution of Clinton despite the fact that they were spending like drunker sailors, Republicans actually lost seats in Clinton’s 6-year mid-term, something that’s historically unprecedented.
When unethical conduct by politicians that is proven or substantially backed up comes to light, it needs to be examined, and prosecuted appropriately. But a politics that centers on going after your opponents is ideologically bankrupt and fails. Ethical lapses should be dealt with a sense of sorrow, not a sense of glee.
Therefore the path I intend to take, and the path I would urge conservatives to take, is one that, to paraphrase Lincoln, shows “unhingedness towards none.”
- 1. Unless someone has serious proof of a violent Obama felony—such as murder, rape, or armed robbery—that could pass a grand jury, or a past association that casts damaging light on a current policy, Obama’s history beyond his promises in the past campaign is really quite irrelevant. We had a chance to thoroughly discuss Obama’s past during the long campaign. The time to discuss the past is past. The American people have chosen Obama despite his past and nothing from ten or fifteen years ago is going to change voter perceptions.
- 2. By all appearances, Obama has been a faithful husband. I believe that to be the case, and have no intent of rolling in the gutter, hoping for a loose woman with loose lips. I’ll not deal in sexual rumor or innuendo.
- 3. When referring to Obama after inauguration, I’ll call him President Obama. If I’m feeling somewhat sarcastic, I may call him “The One.” I will not call him any of the names that were used for President or the equivalents of things such as “The Smirking Chimp.” Of course, I’d be accused of racism if I did.
- 4. I have no interest in the impeachment, death, or imprisonment of Barack Obama. I believe, were any of these to occur, it would be a tragedy. I wish him the best health (and I further extend that same wish and prayer to every member of the U.S. Supreme Court.) and that he finishes his one term in office.
- 5. I have no ill-will towards those who voted for Senator Obama,. I don’t begrudge those who opposed Senator Obama being respectful and congratulatory. We never won anyone to our side by being jerks.
I reject the path of unhingedness because it’s not the path to the victory. Our society faces serious risks from a dangerous world, from morally corrosive legislation like the Freedom of Choice Act, from economic proposals that will turn our nation into a third world country such as card check, and the dismantling of our retirement system. No one can focus on everything, and we are dealing with critical issues that are far more important than the scandal-based focus of the past 16 years.