A great thing about our republic is that we change directions in government without
firing a shot. Well, except for that nasty 1861 to 1865 “unpleasantness” when we
killed 600,000 of our fellow Americans.
But hey, except for that our record is clean!
Voters Tuesday did the reasonable thing: There were too many people out of work, the
people they elected in 2008 paid little attention that fact and instead gave us an
unfathomable and monumental health care plan no one wanted.
And so the voters changed direction with the largest shift in Congressional seats in
my lifetime. The Republican wave put 65 new Republicans in the House of
Representatives and 6 or 7 more in the Senate. Now, John Boehner of Ohio will be
speaker of the house, and Nancy Pelosi of the Peoples Republic of San Francisco will
run for minority leader.
But the Republican victory was a wave, not a tsunami. Americans said they want
President Barack Obama to move to the center, fix the economy and cut spending. They
gave him a lot more Republicans to make sure he understands clearly.
I hope the Republicans don’t overplay their hand. Because, truth be told, they aren’t
popular either. In fact, they’re a lot less popular than the Democrats and the
Americans didn’t elect the Grand Old Party (which has rebranded itself as the Great
Opportunity Party) to go to Capitol Hill and just say no. Americans want the GOP to
create the conditions that will grow the economy so the private sector can create
Bill Clinton faced a similar challenge when Republicans took control of the House in
1994. Voters then were unhappy with Clinton because he went too far to the left in
what was, and still is, a center-right country.
But Clinton was the smartest political strategist since Richard Nixon. Clinton tacked
right, hired Republican consultant Dick Morris and embraced most of Newt Gingrich’s
Contract with America. Clinton signed important Republican legislation including a
landmark welfare reform bill, the Defense of Marriage Act and the ban on controversial
late term abortions.
As a result, Clinton was easily re-elected in 1996 over tired Republican Bob Dole.
U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo, R-Egan, told me Tuesday night that Clinton and House Speaker
Gingrich were within 10 days of reaching a sweeping reform of Social Security when
Gingrich decided to impeach the president.
The question now is, can Obama read the election returns? If he can, he will be well
on his way to re-election in 2012. If not, the Republicans will sweep.