I didn’t think Fred Barnes had it in him, but here is some sound advice to Republicans, appearing, in all places, the Weekly Standard:
Republicans have a big problem. Nope, it’s not figuring out how to rebuild their party after consecutive defeats in national elections (that’s easy). Nor is it finding new leaders in Congress (also easy) or latching onto fresh ideas that might improve the Republican brand (easiest of all). The problem is simpler–but also more difficult–than those. It’s the tricky business of dealing with President Barack Obama.
For starters, Republicans should recognize their position in relation to Obama. For the time being anyway, he’s a colossus astride the continent, the most commanding political presence since Ronald Reagan arrived in Washington. He’s the star. Republicans are extras. If they attract attention, it’s likely to be because they’ve done something the media consider outrageous or dumb.***
One more thing is essential, according to Ryan. “We’ve got to be happy warriors,” he says. “We’ve got to stop being the angry white guy party.” Otherwise, Republicans will play right into Obama’s hands.
They had best learn quickly that if they go in there and just oppose everything and act like, well, a right-wing blogger, they are going to get hammered. This does not mean there is not a room for principled opposition. But they need to pick their battles wisely.
They would be wise to remember that the American public is, by and large, pretty patient with their President, and it was not until the middle of 2005 that Bush saw his approval ratings begin to plummet, with the bottom falling out during Katrina. That is right- a majority of the country put up with everything until they saw video of their countrymen drowning in New Orleans- I would call that patience, and I remember it well. Hell, I even initially tried to defend Bush during Katrina (I still think the locals did a shitty job evacuating people- those poor people, and I mean that in every meaning of the word poor, should never have been there), and it finally became inescapable. There is nothing to defend, there is no way to defend them and they do not deserve defending. Add in that Obama is entering office with a firm mandate and a great deal of good will, and you can see how delicate the situation is for Republicans.