August 23, 2009


Republicans Have Obama Playing Defense: The GOP strategy of principled opposition is winning over independents. (Fred Barnes, 8/23/09, WSJ

Today, the strategy of strong opposition to Mr. Obama seems obvious. But it didn't appear that way to many Republicans after their crushing electoral defeats in 2006 and 2008. Republicans were afraid that crossing Mr. Obama would only make the public dislike them all the more.

Inside Washington, they were urged to reduce the influence of pro-lifers in the party and distance themselves from conservative talk radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh. They were told to warm up to Mr. Obama, the new master of American politics, and they were told to fret about all those voting blocs that were drifting away from the GOP—Hispanics, young people, gays, urbanites, blacks, voters in Northeastern states and independents. To survive, in short, they needed to move the party to the center. Conservatism was dead.

In hindsight, it's fortunate that they ignored the Beltway wisdom. But it was a gamble—it wasn't clear at the time that a strategy of pure opposition would do anything other than marginalize Republicans.

Their first big step was to oppose the economic "stimulus" package. Many in the media insisted Republicans had a death wish when they unanimously rejected it in the House and by a near-unanimous vote in the Senate. The press was wrong. This was the smartest move Republicans have made all year, one with several positive repercussions.

Republicans deconstructed the bill, pointing to its excessive spending, its pork, its favors for Democratic special interests, its lack of actual economic stimulants. Their critique was full-throated and specific. Not only did Republicans begin to revive their reputation as fiscal hawks, they convinced a large chunk of the public that out-of-control spending was a threat to the nation's well-being.

The effect has been to crimp Mr. Obama's plans for further spending. New funds for bailouts are unlikely to be approved by Congress. ObamaCare's cost—a minimum $1 trillion—has become a big reason protesters are turning out against it at town-hall meetings.

They won NH by inundating the state with ads saying that John McCain would tax health care benefits while Mr. Obama would cut tax taxes for 95% of us. That didn't exactly leave him much wiggle room to the Left.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 23, 2009 7:11 PM
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