by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Jonah Goldberg has noticed the recent glut of right-of-center pundits blaming the Iraq war for the Republican Party’s electoral woes. He probes the issue in his latest column.
The more interesting question is: “What do you do about it?”
One answer is for the GOP to do what it’s been doing. Fight, squabble, debate, and, ultimately, grope its way out of the ditch. The Republican National Committee’s recent “autopsy” had many flaws, but the impulse for introspection was not one of them.
Some didn’t even need a committee report. Whatever the merits of his positions, one has to admire the swiftness and alacrity of Senator Rand Paul’s positioning as a different kind of Republican.
Another (in no way exclusive) answer is to take a page from the Democrats.
If the Obama agenda has pulled the country leftward — and I think it has — that creates new opportunities for the GOP.
Obamacare, the stimulus, and the various green-energy boondoggles are in no literal way like the Iraq War. But as a matter of politics, Obama’s overreach is real. For instance, every promise the White House made about the Affordable Care Act has turned out to be untrue, overblown, or misleading. It borrows vast sums to make the health-care system more onerous, complicated, and expensive while still leaving 30 million uninsured.
The press coverage of this unfolding train wreck remains timid in a way that coverage of the war wasn’t. The moment the mainstream media could get away with calling Iraq a “quagmire” it did. With Obamacare, much of the press is like Kevin Bacon trying to be a traffic cop in Animal House. It shouts “All is well!” even as it’s being trampled by the crowd.
Sad as it may be to say so, the failure of Obamacare touches more people’s lives directly than the war did, meaning the media filter matters less.
Politics is about moments and personalities. Just ask Obama. By all means the GOP should keep working out its own problems as best it can, but its practical salvation in the near term may just have to depend on the right candidate taking advantage of the right moment, which President Obama may just be kind enough to provide.