Discover more from Bernard Goldberg's Commentary
A while back, when the president and Republicans couldn’t agree on whether it was day or night or what day it was, I came up with this brilliant idea: Republicans should give Barack Obama everything he wants. And by everything, I meant … everything.
You want higher taxes on the wealthy, Mr. President even though that might lead us into another recession? You got it. You want to pass healthcare reform that will raise about 20 new taxes and keep the economy in the doldrums? We won’t waste your time, and ours, fighting over it. Whatever else you want, Mr. President, it’s yours – because we’re tired of fighting over everything with you.
But there was a method to this madness. I figured when the economy tanks, when millions more Americans lose their jobs, when people realize ObamaCare is the nightmare Republicans were warning about, the president and his cronies in Congress would get all the blame and that would usher in a new era of conservative ascendance.
That’s what happened in Ayn Rand’s classic, Atlas Shrugged, right? The big government incompetents screwed things up so royally that the economy collapsed – completely and utterly collapsed -- and only then did the good guys – the business men and women who understood how the free market works – only then did they come out of hiding and begin to make America right again
What the hell was I thinking?
Now I’m convinced that the Republican brand is so tarnished – no, make that so discredited – that they will get blamed for absolutely everything that goes wrong starting right now.
If we go over the so-called “fiscal cliff” Americans will blame the Republicans. They’re obstructionists, the media and a majority of Americans will say. If we avoid the cliff, Mr. Obama and his party will get all the credit “for looking out for people like me.”
If the economy takes another dive next year because we raised taxes on the wealthiest Americans but didn’t cut spending by much, if at all, Republicans will get blamed for that too. If we don’t slip into another recession, the president will be hailed as a great visionary who by his superior intellect saved the economy and the country.
If it turns out that the president and his team were lying about Benghazi – that they knew all along it was an act of terrorism and came up with the anti-Islam video cover story to make it look like al-qaeda really was decimated as the president kept telling us during the campaign – the media will say, and the American people will believe, that the Republicans are despicably using the deaths of four Americans for political gain. Facts won’t matter.
If it turns out that ObamaCare is as bad as we thought – if doctors stop taking Medicare patients because their fees have been cut, or if certain medical procedures are denied because they’re not cost effective -- Republicans will take the hit because they didn’t do enough to stop the law from going through. That not one Republican voted for ObamaCare won’t matter one wit.
If Iran winds up with a nuclear bomb, Republicans will get blamed because they didn’t want to talk, one on one, with the Iranians. If the president winds up talking one on one with the Iranians, and the talks go nowhere, Republicans will still get blamed because they’re too bellicose.
Why am I so pessimistic – or realistic, as I choose to see it? Because just as Barack Obama cast a spell over a majority of journalists a long time ago, he has clearly also cast a spell over a majority of Americans. He is our mesmerizer-in-chief.
When all my conservative pals were telling me that Obama couldn’t possibly win re-election – not with chronically high unemployment and chronically low economic growth – I told them that this president was different; that the old rules no longer applied. I told them that this president wasn’t Mondale or Dukakis or Gore or Kerry. I told them that this president was magic, and that Americans were taken in by his smile, his charm, by the way he spoke and the way he walked. The president was cool. But my friends on the Right didn’t think cool mattered, not when the economy was in the tank.
I will not say they were wrong and I was right because that would not be gracious, even though they were wrong and I was right.
Things don’t look good for the GOP. If they hope to make a comeback they need a good PR firm to help change the party’s stodgy image. Every time I see the Republican leadership holding court with reporters in the halls of Congress, I cringe. These guys, in the dark suits, white shirts and red ties, give dull a bad name.
The GOP needs some young blood. Remember, the “O” in GOP stands for “old.” What Republicans need is a conservative Barack Obama. Like it or not, in our entertainment culture, cool matters.
Republicans also need to make clear to everyone paying attention, that they are not the party that believes that if rape happens, it’s part of God’s plan. They need to make clear that they are not the party of religious zealots who take their marching orders from the Bible. They need to stop uttering the word “abortion.” That ship has sailed. It’s legal whether they like it or not, and that’s not about to change, so why lose votes talking about it.
Here’s the good news for the GOP: Except for Obama, the rest of the Democrats are stiffs just like the Republicans. Unless you count Hillary. That’s more bad news for the Republicans.