The GOP’s political obituary has been written many times since the November elections. But to invoke the famous quote by author Mark Twain, “Rumors about my death are greatly exaggerated.” The GOP is once again breathing and has the opportunity, politically speaking, for a better first hundred days than President Obama and Democrats on Capitol Hill.
President Obama’s campaign mantra of “change we can believe in” seems to be ringing hollow in the wake of Cabinet nominees caught up in scandal, whether it was a bribery investigation that lead to New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson’s withdrawal as Commerce Secretary nominee or the tax evasion quicksand that surrounded Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and consumed would be Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Daschle. Bribery and tax evasion sound more like practices expected of the Blagojevich Administration, not the Obama Administration.
But while these might be embarrassments for Obama and the Democrats, they alone are not enough to rejuvenate the Republican Party. Other signs on the policy side of the debate in Washington clearly illustrate the GOP’s opportunity going forward. In an effort to win back the limited government, fiscal responsibility brand Republicans shed over the past eight years, new House Minority Whip Eric Cantor led a gallant effort as Republican House members unanimously “just said no” to President Obama’s massive government spending spree masquerading as “stimulus.”
Obama’s strategy was to gain Republican votes, not only to demonstrate “bipartisanship” but also, upon failure, to invoke shared blame. So while Republicans in the House may not have stopped the spending bill, they, along with 11 heroic Democrats, stood for principle and fiscal responsibility.
While the GOP works to win back the fiscal responsibility brand, it also should take note of a recent Gallup Poll revealing that the two least popular decisions made by President Obama so far are the reversal of the Mexico city “family planning” policy (58 percent oppose) that leads to taxpayer funding of abortion internationally and his decision to shut down Guantanamo Bay terrorist prison (only 44 percent supported the new President) — both winning GOP issues that reach out to traditionally key Republican constituencies. The message and opportunity for the GOP in this Gallup Poll is that the nation is still a center-right country when it comes to fiscal issues, social issues, and national security — all of which President Obama and the left wing leadership of Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi are on the wrong side of politically.
Another political opportunity Republicans should latch onto is the little paid attention to packing of the Justice Department with far left ideologues. David Ogden, up for the number two spot at Justice, as a lawyer defended the porn industry, litigated against the Children’s Internet Protection Act and argued for the use of foreign law. On Tuesday, the Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing featuring Elena Kagan, President Obama’s nominee for Solicitor General. Kagan is also a far left liberal who is on record saying some of our military policies are “a profound wrong — a moral injustice of the first order.” As Harvard Law Dean, she booted military recruiters off of the Harvard Law campus due to the Pentagon’s policy regarding gays in the military.
Another Justice Department nominee, Dawn Johnsen, has been nominated to serve as head of the Office of Legal Counsel. She is the former Legal Director to NARAL and was a Staff Counsel Fellow for the ACLU.
Obama is stacking the nation’s top legal agency with far left wing activists, giving Republicans more opportunity to demonstrate that all the talk of “moderation” is just that — talk. Republicans must use every opportunity to expose the far left politics and policies President Obama and his Democrat colleagues have in mind and should avoid being “pragmatic” or “complicit” in any of it. Call it the Cantor Doctrine.
Through early Obama Administration mishaps and unpopular policy decisions, the Grand Old Party has a Grand Old Opportunity to recapture the conservative Republican principles and policies that have led to Republican victories over the past three decades.