Matt Towery

As many know, it was an ambitious lawyer named Arlen Specter, working on the Warren Commission inquiry into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, who is credited with having conceived of the "single bullet" theory that somehow established that Kennedy's only assailant was Lee Harvey Oswald.

The theory has been termed by skeptics as the "magic bullet" theory. Those critics portray that bullet as having curved, spun and changed directions on its way to Kennedy's head. That's the only way, they say, that Oswald alone could have killed him.

Now Specter has become a living personification of his single bullet theory, this one aimed at the Republican Party, and "fired" when Specter switched to the Democratic side of the U.S. Senate. The GOP faces many other potentially mortal magic political bullets.

Combined with the likely eventual seating of funny man and soon-to-be U.S. Sen. Al Franken, Specter's bullet will have delivered on many issues a filibuster-proof Senate. And with that filibuster goes the last morsel of power the Republicans had in Congress.

No matter how hard they deny it, Republicans must face the fact that Barack Obama has high approval ratings after his first 100 days in office.

Moreover, the Democratic Congress has essentially taken the emergency economic actions started under President Bush and somehow managed to now have government owning banks, insurance companies and car manufacturers. (And in the case of the automakers, the potential owners are both government and unions.)

The same Congressional majority has proposed an almost incomprehensible mountain of debt. As a result, they are scaring the daylights out of core conservatives and some independent voters.

But it does no good to be convinced a ship is sinking if most of the other passengers are dancing on the decks and toasting the captain. Most Americans see stimulus efforts and government intervention as being proactive fixes to what ails America, rather than the start of a slippery slope toward socialism.

There are other magic bullets besides Arlen Specter in the Democrats' bandolier, and they're using them shrewdly. For one, no one likes credit card companies, not even the so-called rich. So the Obama administration is going after them at quick speed. That's a shiny bullet that only makes him more popular.

And in tough economic times, it's only natural for people to resent those who've received huge pay bonuses, or who fly in private jets. So, given the mandate that was actually created in the last months of the Bush administration, the Obama team and the Democrats in Congress are now aggressively targeting excessive bonuses, lavish lifestyles and other over-the-top actions by executives whose companies received bailout funds. Many conservatives see this as an even deeper extension of government into the private sector, and an even stronger effort at promoting class envy.

But most Americans aren't consumed with the issue of government intruding into free enterprise. They want to see anyone who appears to have been rewarded for "failure" punished. Voila -- another magic bullet that only adds to Obama's popularity.

Obviously the press is still enamored with the new style of this president and first lady. Again, that's a fact that can be cursed all day long, but is not likely to change anytime soon.

The truth is that the Republican Party is reeling and there appears to be no immediate hope that it can steady itself, much less launch a new offensive that has much of a prayer of being effective. Explaining why tax cuts are good really doesn't matter when, because of our system of withholding taxes from paychecks, polls show that most Americans don't even know how much they pay in income taxes, and a near majority in surveys say, "I didn't pay anything" or "I received a refund."

These are cold, hard facts that most Republicans and conservatives don't want to hear. But as a pollster who must be completely objective when polling, let me assure you they are all true.

After suffering wounds from various magic bullets, a patient must be X-rayed and thoroughly examined to determine what, if anything, can be done to save his or her life.

It's time for the GOP to understand that until it properly diagnoses why it's slowly losing its lifeblood, it's likely to keep losing its pulse. Only after the diagnosis is made and new blood is pumped into the Republican Party will it perhaps start to find some magic bullets of its own.


Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a former National Republican legislator of the year and author of Powerchicks: How Women Will Dominate America.
 
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