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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

President Bait-and-Switch

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“Hill GOP cool to Obama overtures on fiscal cliff deal” is one of the unintentionally funniest headlines of the year.

Like “Charlie Brown cool to Lucy’s football.”

The president has been speaking about bipartisanship since 2009 even as he has conducted the most relentlessly partisan presidency of modern times.

The Congressional GOP should stop trying to be the executive and start waiting out the president, mocking his rhetoric by pointing out, again and again and again, that the president has not put forward a plan, nor has Harry Reid.

The Wall Street Journal reports on the state of relations between the president and the Congressional GOP:

A review of the negotiations, based on interviews with a dozen aides and lawmakers, suggests the problems lay in Mr. Boehner’s inability to coax his rank-and-file to support a deal that raises taxes on higher-income Americans. Another factor was what Republicans saw as President Obama’s unwillingness to bend when a deal was in sight, jamming the speaker with a deal his party couldn’t swallow.

The negotiations offer little evidence November’s election brought the president and House Republicans closer together. If anything, the talks poisoned an already distrustful relationship.

Powerline’s John Hinderaker regrets the failure of Plan B, and flatters me that I had something to do with its collapse.  I’d be happy to take a bow if that were the case but the real explanation is that GOP backbenchers have had it with being props in the Obamadrama.  John’s argument is the GOP has to do something, anything, to change the dynamic, but in truth all they can do is wait, and in the waiting, make an argument about what is happening to the country because of the president’s posturing.  They do not improve their position by trimming their commitments unless and until they have to, and they don’t have to unless and until the president makes them an offer they cannot refuse for the good of the country. Serial concessions and multiple breaches of very public vows lead, rightly, to the conclusion the party is neither courageous nor principled.  

“The average low-information voter has no idea what Republicans want with respect to taxes, spending, and the budget,” John writes, “and therefore is quite ready to believe Barack Obama’s absurd lie that Republicans are just trying to protect rich people.”

John’s correct about this, and the GOP has made no systematic effort to change this fact blackout.  Ask yourself, have you seen or heard any of the House GOP leadership on any talk show –radio or television– in the past six weeks?  If they did appear on one that I missed, did they make an effective argument about what is at stake?  The great Beltway conversation goes on in classic fashion, but it isn’t making any dent on public opinion because the president talks in slogans and the GOp doesn’t talk at all.

Here’s a gift suggestion for your local GOP Representative: “The Last Lion: Alone 1932-1940” by William Manchester, the second volume of Manchester’s biography of Winston Churchill.  It focuses on his wilderness years when the most important thing he did was make arguments about what was really going on in the world.  His speeches did not avert the crisis, of course, but they did help prepare his country to deal with it when it arrived.

If the GOP doesn’t adapt to its position, using its real power judiciously but not overestimating it or attempting to be more clever than the combined power of the presidency, the Senate and the MSM, there will be plenty more defeats ahead, and even greater embarrassments.


The Last Lion: Alone 1932-1940



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