For many years, watching Congress has been like watching a football game where both teams punt every play. The beginning of 2013 has continued to prove the rule. More recently however, every time the Republicans punt, the President grabs the ball, spikes it, and acts as if he’s in the end zone. The media cheers right along with him, no flags are thrown, and the country is left thinking that he’s scored a touchdown regardless of his field position. If we have learned anything over the past few months, it's that the Republicans need to keep the ball and go on offense. As legendary Georgia football coach, Erk Russell, would have said, “GATA.”
First, it has firmly been established the GOP is terrible on defense. Reagan was probably talking about his party when he said, “If you’re explaining, you’re losing.” This party is really bad at explaining stuff. It can’t defend religious liberty without stumbling into a contraception conundrum. It can’t defend life without inexplicably yelling out the word “rape” as if it had Tourette's. It can’t even explain NOT spending millions on Alaskan fisheries and Smithsonian roof repairs without the Blue State Boys in New Jersey and New York lamenting (shocker) the inefficiencies of federal government. Republicans are so bad at defensive communication that it makes President Obama--after returning to his Hawaiian vacation in the midst of national crisis--look like the “every-man” populist he has never been. The GOP has the weakest defense in the league.
Unfortunately, many in the party of Lincoln have decided that this rhetorical ineptitude means Republicans are going to have to wait until 2014, or worse, 2016, for a magniloquent messiah to win again. This stinkin’ thinkin’ ignores the fact that our treasury cannot sustain another two years of putting the President’s pet projects on the national credit card. Worse yet, imagine what would happen to the fans of a football team that had decided that it wasn't going to play for a win for the next two years. By the time the planned “winning season” rolled around, there wouldn't be anyone left in the stands. Based on the demographic debacle of the 2012 presidential elections, the GOP can’t afford to lose any more of the booster club.
Because the GOP defense is not existent, it is now playing scared. This lack of confidence has given the Democrats the artificially inflated sense that they have an incredible offense. They don’t. In fact, the President has only one offensive play—the Hail Mary pass. He haphazardly throws the ball as hard as he can and prays that the Congressional Democrats will form their Machiavellian mosh pit in the end zone trying to grab anything that is thrown at them. Yes, Obama has claimed victories on healthcare and has successfully cast blame on Republicans for the fiscal cliff debacle. However, careful analysis of the replay proves that he’s been more lucky than good.
The first play worthy of review is the passage of the healthcare debacle. In hindsight, it was a strategic error to give Obama so much credit by naming that mess of lawmaking, "Obamacare." Notice how eager he was to accept that moniker? When it came to drafting this 2000 page monstrosity, he was nowhere to be found. The same was true when it came to shoving it through Congress. According to the New York Times, during the sausage-making phase of the healthcare overhaul, Nancy Pelosi was the one who had to keep Obama (and Reid) in the game. Yet, when it was all said and done, it was Obama who took the victory lap and his acolytes in the media pushed the narrative. Put another way, he threw the ball down field, kept shouting “pre-existing conditions,” and prayed that Pelosi would catch the ball. She did.
The second example of "incontrovertible visual evidence" showing the President's weak play was when Governor Romney shocked the president during the first debate of the general election. Romney was on offense the whole game and the President didn't know what to do. The Governor wasn't rude or impolite, but he locked Obama down. The country was clearly eager to see that type of leadership and accepted what he was saying as evidenced by the sharp movement in the polling to Romney's favor after that first shellacking. Then, inexplicably, the GOP candidate shifted back to defense, and let the president again doing his touchdown dances for the final two debates. The third debate might have been on only chance anyone had to ask direct questions of Obama about Benghazi. That ball was fumbled.
This past week, when the country was at the precipice of the fiscal cliff, Obama was feckless. The guy simply has no clue how to negotiate so he went to his go-to speechmaking abilities. Only this time, Obama could not discourse his way out of this debacle. The Hail Mary didn’t work so he hung up his QB jersey for a pair of pom poms. His eleventh hour “pep rally” left his most devoted players scratching their heads. In realizing that he had nothing left to offer, he called Joe up from the bench, handed him the football, and hit the showers. The Vice President won’t disagree with this analysis. It is widely reported that as Biden departed from a meeting with Senate Democrats on Monday night, he was asked what made the difference in the negotiations. “Me,” Biden said with a smile. Obama came back just long enough to do the post-game press conference and flew to Hawaii--perhaps thinking he had made it into a Bowl.
Given this review, the GOP needs to get back on the field with a“smash mouth” offense. First, Boehner needs to shut this Sandy debacle down. House Republicans need to call out any Senator who attached pork to this “emergency bill” by name, state and worthless project. If the media doesn’t cover it, the RNC needs to buy advertising and out the cowards who have let Boehner take the blame for their greed. (And then Boehner needs to demand an apology from Governor Christie).
Next, use the Sandy Relief/Pork bill as a rallying cry to simplify. Legislation need to be simplified so that progress is not encumbered by the selfishness of a few legislators or the President's fog of academic theory. The House GOP needs to start passing short, bite-size bills and dare the Senate to muck them up. We now know that, in a pinch, they can pass legislation fast. Use that ability to do some good. For instance, in the next week the House should pass and Obamacare “patch” that reinstates the First Amendment Right to religious liberty of companies such as Hobby Lobby. Dare the Democratic Senators from Catholic blue states to vote against religious freedom. Keep the pressure on them for a change.
Lastly, stop whining about the mainstream media. It is what it is. Complaining about its liberal bent does as much good for Republicans as bellyaching about the evil genius of Steve Spurrier did for the University of Georgia. Super PACS aren't just good for campaign years. Their money would go a long way in attracting new "fans.". When it comes to making the case for cutting spending, BUY time on non-Fox networks. The GOP has celebrities too. Use them. At the very least, hire the clever guys who made the highly effective Anti-Anti-Gun PSA exposing hypocricy of the non-GOP celebrities. Get creative in educating the public that this spending addiction is no longer about mortgaging their grandkids future, but rather, it's about bankrupting their present. The country can't afford another punt.
For goodness sake, don't wait on the President to get back from Hawaii refreshed and ready to start throwing his gun control and "sweeping immigration reform" Hail Mary passes. Republicans, get in the game! Keep the ball! GATA!-which, in this case (and with all due respect to Coach Russell), means Go After The Agenda.
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