Brian Birdnow

The current political wisdom as expressed by the deep thinkers at the Washington Post and the New York Times holds that President Obama stands triumphant and, as such, he is now confidently setting the national agenda. As E.J. Dionne wrote in the Post last week, “He (Obama) is free from the need to save an economy close to collapse, from illusions that Republicans in Congress would work with him readily, from the threat of a rising Tea Party movement, and from the need to run for re-election.” Is that a fact? Today the economy shows an 8% unemployment rate, which is higher than at any time during the Bush years, the President has dismissed Republican calls for compromise on budgetary issues, Second Amendment questions, and immigration policy, and it remains to be seen whether Obama will seek a third term through executive order, but no matter!

The current wisdom further holds that the Republicans suffer from a lack of leadership, a non-existent strategy and no rising stars. Here, the liberal chattering classes are on firmer ground. The GOP, thrown into a funk by the dismal outcome of the November elections, is now stumbling and committing the same type of errors that caused them to forfeit public confidence in the first place. Sometimes defeat offers opportunity. TH readers of a certain vintage will recall that the 1992 election of Bill Clinton as president served as a beneficial wake-up call to a Republican Party that had grown complacent and stale. The GOP tabbed a human dynamo named Haley Barbour as their national chairman, and rebounded strongly, confounding their critics in the prestige media. Today, however, we see little evidence of this happening as the Republicans have fallen into internecine warfare, with the various factions pointing fingers and blaming each other, and we must endure the likes of Kathleen Parker preaching the eulogy at the graveside of the conservative movement.


Brian Birdnow

Brian E. Birdnow is a historian and teaches at a university in the St. Louis area.