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“I Won’t Stand Still”–Modestly: The Already Forgotten SOTU And The GOP’s Need For “Masterly Inactivity”

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The Washington Post’s headline is “Obama: ‘I won’t stand still.'”  The New York Times says the president struck  a “Tough Tone for Modest Agenda.”  The headline for Jonah’s take is simply “Forgettable.”

Jonah;s right.  It was forgettable, is in fact already forgotten.  Like everything else from this presidency for the next year except Obamacare.  We know the president wants to forget that too.  Of a 65 minute speech, he devotes 5 minutes and 20 seconds to health care.  If Obamacare was working, wouldn’t the speech have been all about it?  Its achievements accomplished, its glories ahead?

I am in D.C. meeting with a variety of folks including a firm that specializes in assisting health care companies move through the maze of the new law’s after-effects.Lawyers have never been more necessary than now in D.C., with dozens of agencies churning out hundreds of tules totaling thousands of pages –every month.  Every company in every industry must have Washington counsel.  Period.  Even the best regional firms have no idea how to manage this Vesuvius of rules.

Which is why the GOP, headed off to its retreat, should do nothing on the policy front at all except pledge to do their very best to slow down the juggernaut until help arrives via a Senate takeover in November.  No immigration bill.  No debt limit showdown.  Just hearing after hearing after hearing.  Seven days a week of hearings into these rules. Keep the queen bees busy at least, and slow down the wrecking ball.

If you missed my conversation with Congressman Tom Price yesterday, be sure to read it over on the Transcripts page as we discuss the immigration bill and the near certainty of a new House GOP leadership in 2015.  (Price, Eric Cantor, Tom Cole, and Jeb Hensarling are the four tipped to replace John Boehner.)  Republicans should look at the skills set displayed in the next few months to judge who should lead them post Boehner.  One of those skills sets ought to be the ability to explain to the country as a whole why the GOP must adopt this position of do refusing to negotiate with a president who has routinely breached his every commitment to them.  Lord Salisbury, a great British Prime Minister of the late 19th century, was known for his policy of “masterly inactivity.” This is what the GOP needs, and I hope it is what they decide to do during their “retreat” in Maryland.

That means a debt limit hike shorn of all drama save a restoration of the cut to the career military COLA and perhaps repeal of the medical device tax.  No credit market stresses, no high drama for the dullest administration in modern times.  Just wait out the inevitable backlash against the new parade of horribles from Obamacare, and help the country see what those horribles are.

Hearings, hearings, hearings, hearings.  Isn’t that what the president called for last night?  Does anyone recall what the president called for last night?



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