First, kudos to Roy Blunt for stepping down.
John Boehner needs to join him. It is time for a newer, fresher crop of Republican leaders -- some who can talk to young people as contemporaries and who have limited association with the various embarrassments of the past few years. Boehner's merits (or lack thereof) aren't really the point. The point is that the party needs solid communicators with the ability to project a new image, and it's time that Boehner realize that this isn't "all about him" but about the ability of the Republicans to protect America from the predations of the hard left.
Second, the GOP needs to hold off on criticizing Obama until he's actually in charge. The natural impulse is to pick at him for this thing and that thing, to try to read the tea leaves, to generalize about what he's going to do. But it only projects an image of sore-loserdom and fringey whining. For now, it's best to watch and wait to criticize when the country has settled down and the starlight glow of victory around Obama has become more like the fluorescent lighting of the tough, everday choices he will have to make in the Oval Office.
Third, Republicans and conservatives actually have a chance to do something good for the country if we are honorable about how we criticize the next President. It will be important to be forthright and firm about pointing out the manifold shortcomings in Obama's policies, and I predict that it will be even more
important to be vigilant in identifying the subterranean hardball politics the Obama Administration will use to silence opposition and shape political conditions to its liking. But political dialogue (especially from the left) has become quite deranged in recent years, and we'd do a favor to the country if we set the example on how to oppose without being hateful. The fact that the next President is an African-American may be a blessing in this regard, as his opponents may think twice before really heading to the gutter in terms of the way they attack him (in other words, no more comparing the President to a chimp
, and worse).
Finally, internecine warfare in the GOP is inevitable. It's what the losing party does. But enough with the graceless savaging of Sarah Palin by McCain staffers. The whole enterprise is ridiculous. Attacks on her do little more than cast aspersions on the judgment of Senator McCain and his staff (those who chose her) and offer aid and comfort to those who treated her most hatefully. It also creates and exacerbates unnecessary tensions in the party based on reasons that have nothing to do with policy or ideology. Come on, people. We lost an election. Let's not lose our dignity along with it.
With the election now over, it's time for a few post-defeat thoughts.