President Obama’s candid admission of naivete on his part –“There’s no such thing as shovel ready projects”– has left Democrats reeling and Republicans triumphant on the campaign trail.
The president’s faithful defenders circled the wagon. “I read that as an odd quote,” Ezra Klein told me on Wednesday’s radio show. “Now where did that quote came from?” Ezra continued. “It’s an out of context quote. It’s a little bit hard to say.”
Jonathan Chait told me very much the same thing –that the reporter had done a lousy job explaining what the president meant.
Both Chait and Klein are stimulus true believers, though Klein asserts it ought to have been bigger than it was. Even the president’s candor about the failure of the stimulus to work as promised won’t deter the left from defending the massive boondoggle.
No matter. By this weekend every Republican candidate should have taped an ad noting that the president has finally admitted what everyone in the country already knew –the Administration’s economic gamble was a bust, and a very expensive one at that. Those same candidates have to push the advantage the polls show the GOP as owning right now by arguing again and again that there is only one way out of this mess, and that is robust economic growth fueled by lower taxes and much lower public sector spending.
The highest profile candidates have to make bold statements about the need to stop the massive tax hike scheduled for 1/1/11. They have to argue for repeal of Obamacare with its massive built-in deficits. They have to argue for a slicing back of the rapidly growing regulatory state.
They have to speak clearly and loudly about the need for speed in moving to correct the many errors of the president and his team.
The looming defeat of the Democrats on 11/2 has accelerated Campaign 2012. Politico.com has a top-of-the-page story on Mitt Romney’s schedule, and John Thune was very clear about the direction in which he is leaning on my program today:
HH: John Thune, a lot of people are asking whether or not you’re going to run for President in 2012. When will you make that decision?
JT: Well, you know, right now, as everybody else is, focused very narrowly on the midterm elections, because it’s the best thing we can do right now to change the direction of the country. But after those elections are over, we’ll take a look at it. We’re having some discussions about that now, and obviously, that would be a very big undertaking. But I think that people in this country are going to be ready for, hopefully, some kind of Midwestern common sense type leadership, and we certainly have got to make a change in the White House in 2012, and in particularly, if we can make some significant gains in the Congress in this election, because there is so much that I think has to be undone that this administration has done in terms of damage to the country.
Like Romney and Thune, Sarah Palin and Tim Pawlenty are also criss-crossing the country to help the 11/2 effort, and there are many others close behind these four top tier candidates.
All of these candidates know that deepening concern over the politically lethal combination of the president’s hard left ideology and his ever-more-obvious incompetence have created a huge opening for a campaign of ideas to launch almost as soon as the polls close on November 2.
My new Townhall.com column cites the recent evidences of the massive grassroots energy in the country. A large GOP win won’t dampen this surge of citizen-activism, but will instead increase the eagerness of its participants to dive even deeper into politics. The GOP presidential candidates will have no choice but to move to engage and earn the respect of these voters.
Senator Thune’s admonition that there is much that “has to be undone” is the starting point for campaign 2012. Anyone who wants to lead the party in 2012 is going to have to so declare early –very early– and to lay out the details of his or her platform. The era of coy hints is long gone. The new electorate knows there is much to be done, and is eager to begin.