Rich Galen

One of the songs from the 1959 Rodgers & Hammerstein musical "The Sound of Music" is, "How do you Solve a Problem like Maria?"

Republicans are asking themselves the same question about President Obama. According to, the new President's approval ratings average 73% ranging from a high of 79% (Pew and ABC news/Washington Post) to a low of 60% (CBS News/New York Times).

Note, though, that all of those polls were taken before last Tuesday's inauguration.

Republicans in the House and Senate have to find a voice without getting in between a 70+ percent President and the American people.

What … ever … shall … they … do?

First of all, don't panic. Just below the chart showing Obama at his high levels is a chart showing the approval rating of the U.S. Congress. Average? 21% approval. Nearly the same percentage of Americans disapprove of the way the Congress is operating as approve of the way the new Administration is starting.

So, the secret is to leave Barack Obama alone for the time being. He'll make his own mistakes. Snapping at a reporter in the briefing room the other day was not a good way to start.

The relatives of people killed at the World Trade Center on 9/11 telling the press they are furious at the prospect of terrorists being set free upon the closing of Guantanamo will wear away some of the glow.

If House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid ever had a glow it has long since been reduced to a faint spark.

Republicans in the House cannot whine about not getting a fair chance to participate in the design of legislation. The current split is 256 Democrats and 178 Republicans (with one vacancy).

When you are 78 seats in the hole you are not going to win many battles in Committee or on the Floor. There are no filibusters in the House, whatever bill Pelosi wants to bring to the floor for a vote is coming to the floor for a vote.

Republicans in the House have to pick their spots. The current campaign to make the case that the focus of any stimulus package should be putting money directly into the hands of Americans so they can go back to being consumers - is a good example.

It can take a "shovel-ready project" like a bridge something on the order of a year from the time the money is approved to the time the first shovel is actually needed.

It will take a mom with an extra $100 in her checking account about 20 minutes to drive to Target and start buying clothes for her kids.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at