I don’t think we’ll see the kind of surprise commemorated in the famous photo of Harry Truman holding up a “Dewey Wins” headline. The Republicans will do nicely, though it’s unclear how nicely. Now the hard part starts.
Overturning the administration’s health care reform isn’t going to happen in the next two years. Yes, the Congress should give the President the option of vetoing it, often. But he will, every time. The Congress will then have to take intermediate steps such as defunding the bill. The repeal followed by replacement won’t happen until after 2010.
Here’s the challenge for Republicans: Behave in a manner so that the public won’t hate your guts by 2012. If the past is any guideline, this is going to be hard for you. Can you behave like grown-ups for two years (and beyond, if you get the hang of it)? If you don’t, we may be saddled with a health care system that radically changes our nation once and for all and makes health care much worse and far more expensive.
Senator Mitch McConnell and Rep. John Boehner, leaders of the minorities in the Senate and House, did a very good job of keeping their teams together in the last few years. The House and Senate Repyublicans had amazing coherence during the health care fight. But now that you’ve got more power, the media is going to try harder to get you out of power. It’s going to require bravura performances, dudes.
Here are some points to ponder:
It’s not about you: As John Podhoretz remarks astutely in today’s New York Post: “This is an election about Barack Obama. It’s a referendum on him and his party. It isn’t about the Republicans. They’re not being anointed.” The take-away: You’re being sent to Washington provisionally. We can un-send you in two years if you are a representative. It takes longer for a senator, but we can still do it.
Fly Commercial, Dudes: You say that’s just symbolic? But what a symbol! And what if it’s more than a symbol? What if flying on the plane with us makes you listen to us? What if not being pampered is a way to remind you that money doesn’t grow on trees (as my mother used to say)? I’ve always thought that flying on private planes gives our officials an unrealistic notion about money. And we know it’s possible for them to get to from one place to another same as us-we know this because Senator Schumer made headlines being rude to a flight attendant on the D.C.-New York shuttle. When you fly commercial, be polite, even if you secretly believe it is beneath the dignity of your office (it isn’t).
Drink Slurpees: The president has pilloried Republicans as sitting beside the road, drinking Slurpees, while the Democrats do the heavy lifting. As soon as you repeal some bad laws, we want you to smell the roses, drink Slurpees, and whatever-we want you to get out of the way and let private businesses have the freedom to grow. In a way, this is related to flying commercial. One reason our elected officials are so busy that they don’t have the time to take a commercial flight is that Congress does too much.
Behave Yourselves: I shouldn’t even have to say this.