Tony Blankley

Republicans owe Hillary our gratitude. She has road-tested several versions of attacks on Obama that don't work. Obviously, and first, don't come out against change and hope -- the perennial themes of successful election campaigns. In 1984, even my old boss Ronald Reagan campaigned for re-election in response to the claim that America needed to change, on the words: "We ARE the change," as well as on the hopeful theme of "morning in America."

If a candidate is not for change, he is not for us. It has been almost two centuries since Prince von Metternich gained the first ministry of the Hapsburg's Austrian empire by assuring the emperor that his administration consciously would avoid any "innovation."

Nor will Americans ever vote for presidential candidates based on what the candidates have done for us already. In American politics, gratitude is always the lively expectation of benefits yet to come. The question is always, What will you do for us tomorrow? Americans will not give Sen. McCain the White House because we are grateful for his heroism 40 years ago at the Hanoi Hilton. We are grateful, and he was heroic. Americans might gladly vote for him to receive a medal, or even an opulent retirement home, but not the presidency.

Beyond these obvious points, Republicans should learn from Hillary's campaign that Obama is remarkably adept at ridiculing the old style of campaigning. He cheerfully and in a cool, understated tone will slice and dice overly broad charges, such as Hillary's "inexperience" taunt or her ill-considered "words vs. action" charge. (And by the way, after seven years of Bush's verbal infelicity, there is a hunger for eloquence. Moreover, eloquence is good. Consider Lincoln, FDR, Churchill, Reagan -- even Bill Clinton in a cheesy, insincere way.) Obama must have been tempted to use that old Humphrey Bogart line, when Bogart asked of someone who couldn't keep up with him: "What do you want me to do, learn to stutter?")

Overly broad charges against him are dangerous. Republicans will make a mistake if they take to calling him "too liberal for America." He is too liberal, but they need to make the charge specific point by specific point. If they try to pigeonhole him as a liberal, he will refuse to perch in such a hole. He is a golden falcon, not a fat pigeon. He will swoop down verbally on his accuser and point out how he is not liberal at all on that point -- but his accuser's record is.


Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, died Sunday January 8, 2012. He was 63.

Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.

In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.

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