As was evident at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, it is deja vu, 1961, all over again. We have a young, cool, witty, personable president -- and an adoring press corps.
"I am Barack Obama," the president introduced himself. "Most of you covered me. All of you voted for me. (Laughter and applause.) Apologies to the Fox table. (Laughter.)"
What is also evident is that, without its new superstar in the lineup, the Democratic Party is a second-division ball club. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are not terribly formidable. Last fall, the Congress they ran had an approval rating below Vice President Cheney.
Why then is the Republican Party agonizing publicly over what it is supposed to do? If history is any guide, the pendulum will swing back in 2010.
After all, in 1952, Eisenhower was elected in a more impressive victory than Obama's, and ended the Korean War by June. And, in 1954, he lost both houses of Congress.
Lyndon Johnson crushed Goldwater by three times the margin of Obama's victory. He got Medicare, Medicaid, voting rights, and a host of Great Society programs. And, in 1966, he lost 47 House seats.
Ronald Reagan won a 44-state landslide in 1980, cut tax rates -- and proceeded to lose 26 sets in 1982.
Bill Clinton recaptured the presidency for his party in 1992 after 12 years of Republican rule. In 1994, he lost 52 seats and both houses of Congress.
Though, demographically, the nation is tilting toward the Party of Government, the GOP must remain the party of free enterprise, and should follow the counsel of Australia's Robert Menzies, long ago:
"(T)he duty of an opposition ... is to oppose selectively. No government is always wrong on everything. The opposition must choose the ground on which it is to attack. To attack indiscriminately is to risk public opinion, which has a reserve of fairness not always understood."
Rather than debating what the national party position should be on foreign policy, health care, education, or social issues -- which the party will decide when it chooses a nominee in 2012 -- the GOP should focus now, and unite now, on what it will stand against.
Here the party has a good start. With the exception of Specter the Defector and the ladies from Maine, it united against the $800 billion stimulus bill. And as it is impossible to shovel out an added 6 percent of GDP in two years, without vast waste, fraud and abuse, this stimulus package is going to come back and bite Obama by 2010.
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