I'm struck by the irony of the liberal punditry warning Republicans not to interpret their sweeping victories as a mandate because such "arrogance" could lead to a voter backlash.
In the very process of obsessing over what Republicans might do and become in the future, liberals are blinding themselves to what they have already done and become. They are lecturing Republicans about copping an arrogant attitude when they are so deeply steeped in one themselves they can't accurately interpret their own reflection in the election mirror.
A recent Chicago Tribune headline reads: "Beware perils of overreaching, GOP is warned. Analysts say agenda could backfire." The article quotes Illinois Democratic Congressman and former Clinton insider Rahm Emanuel as saying, "If you don't think you are going to be accountable and there are no consequences for what you do, it'll lead to overreaching."
And what do they mean by "overreaching"? Merely trying to implement their agenda. According to the article:
Political analysts warn that overly aggressive efforts to push a conservative agenda could leave Bush and his allies vulnerable to charges of political overreaching, and ultimately cause a voter backlash. ? Already Democrats are saying that Republicans are emphasizing an ideological rather than a middle-of-the-road approach to governing.
Similarly, Los Angeles Times columnist Ronald Brownstein writes:
The larger issue in this dispute [over the intelligence restructuring bill] is whether Bush wants to reach out to all Americans, or just court those at the core of his political coalition.
The objective fact is that President Bush and Republicans won decisively. The lesson most reasonable people would take from such a victory is not that they were doing something wrong and they better back off from it. While I agree that winners shouldn't become highhanded, neither should they act like losers.
Why should President Bush voluntarily surrender his just-affirmed political capital by capitulating to the demands of Democrats? Wouldn't that be as much of a slap in the face to voters, who just endorsed his agenda, as becoming cocky?
According to this liberal logic, Republicans should act like losers when they lose and act like losers when they win. President Bush, having run on an agenda of staying the course in Iraq, making his tax cuts permanent, and injecting a measure of private ownership in the Social Security system, should abandon all three goals.
I'm not exaggerating. The Chicago Tribune article quotes a Rutgers political science professor as saying: