Republicans look strong each time President Obama assaults the treasury or the democratic process, but people seem more willing to forgive his infractions than they are with other politicians. That, along with the possibility of fissures among conservatives, could make him a formidable candidate for re-election.
It's mystifying that anyone other than pure leftists and those on the public dole could even consider voting for Obama after the way he's governed and behaved in office, but he seems to have nine political lives. It's amazing that he could enjoy high approval ratings while his policies are so unpopular. But so many invested their hope in him to be the man he pretended to be, and they don't want to let it go. The mainstream media are happy to nourish that sentiment, and their job will be even easier if the economy continues to rebound despite Obama's repeated body blows to it.
All of which is to say that Republicans had better bring their best game, both in their governance and in managing the various factions inside their big (and, one hopes, growing) tent. That, I'm afraid, could be easier said than done.
Let me just point out a few problem areas and warning signs for Republicans, not as some ominous foreboding or as a surrender to pessimism, but as potential pitfalls to avoid.
The tea party movement is an enormously positive force for responsible and accountable government and for the resurgence of constitutional principles and the rule of law. Its primary contribution has been its unwavering commitment to fiscal responsibility and its refusal to be absorbed and then emasculated by the Republican Party -- to the detriment of both.
The tea party is clearly opposed to the leftist Democratic Party and is naturally aligned with the principles the GOP stands for. The problem is that the GOP has so often abandoned its principles that it has been put on probation, with the tea party being the probation officer and the judge.
With the tea party breathing down its neck, the GOP is mostly making a good faith effort to rehabilitate itself. Granted, there are constant setbacks, but we're finally seeing some real progress, such as the House vote to repeal Obamacare and all 47 GOP senators also voting to repeal.
But there will be backsliding and ongoing tension, which could lead to some movement from the tea party actually to form a political party and field a presidential candidate. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that should that happen, no one would be happier than Obama. A better method of accountability would be to threaten to run more conservative candidates against Republican congressmen who refuse to acknowledge the urgency of the looming national debt crisis and govern accordingly.