Quelling The Grand Old Panic

By INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Wednesday, May 07, 2008 4:20 PM PT

Politics: Some Republicans fret that special-election losses portend disaster for their party this fall. But the most radical Democratic presidential nominee ever is actually a golden opportunity for the GOP to win big.

Read More: Election 2008

Ronald Reagan used to say the key to GOP victory was presenting voters with “a banner of bold, unmistakable colors, with no pastel shades.” Now, with Barack Obama as the Republicans’ likely opponent this November, there’s no excuse for pastel.

The fashionable notion is that the silver-tongued Obama will generate a coattail effect helping other Democratic candidates. Therefore, Republicans should be scared stiff and hope for the unlikely nomination of Hillary Clinton. But that’s nonsense.

Such silliness was reflected in the record number of Republicans in Indiana who crossed over and voted for Hillary in this week’s Democratic primary.

If Republicans have so little confidence in pitting the principles with which their party has won five presidential elections in three decades against an articulate radical who happens to bring a bit of charisma to the stump, they might as well fold up their tent now.

Jitters plaguing the GOP congressional contingent were exacerbated Tuesday by the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. In a private session, Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma warned congressmen that the money isn’t there this year to bail them out if they don’t do enough of their own fundraising.

On top of that came a widely read article by Newt Gingrich in Human Events.

Last week’s loss in the Louisiana 6th congressional district — a traditionally loyal GOP constituency where George W. Bush won re-election by nearly 20% — signals “grave danger,” the former House speaker wrote.

Republicans also recently lost former Speaker Denny Hastert’s district in Illinois. Gingrich called on Republicans to embrace a “real change” agenda that includes gas-tax repeal, spending cuts and making English the nation’s official language.

According to him, “If Republicans try to run an anti-Obama, anti- Reverend Wright or (if Sen. Clinton wins) anti-Clinton campaign, they’re simply going to fail.” The signs are that “the voters will say, ‘Not the Republicans,’ ” Gingrich believes.

Not to encourage complacency among Republicans, but this preponderance of gloom is highly unwarranted. Special congressional elections do not hinge on issues of grave national concern, in particular foreign and defense policy — which is sure to be a huge focus when John McCain faces his opponent in November.

If Republicans really believe in their party’s winning philosophy of governing, they should welcome the opportunity to face George McGovern’s ideas dressed in John Kennedy’s charm. This is a rare chance to confront the left’s ideas head-on and win.

When victory comes, there can be no excuses from liberal Democrats of the messenger being at fault. Obama has proved himself a remarkably adept communicator and has weathered personal revelations and every manner of attack from the Clinton camp.

Record-low approval of an incompetent and irresponsible Democratic Congress also gives the GOP reason to hope.

Some items on Gingrich’s list can help take advantage of that, but unfortunately they also include sleep-inducing wonkery such as census computerization and air traffic control reform.

Republicans are going to win only by talking up high-profile issues, including:

• Fighting terrorism: a clear policy to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons as Item One in the ongoing global war on terror — in stark contrast to the notion that a President Obama can talk a madman like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad out of his fanaticism.

• Low taxes: turning the election into a referendum on expiration of the Bush tax cuts — more accurately described as “the Democrats’ biggest tax increase in history,” which would wreck an economy that already has enough troubles.

• Energy independence: developing future alternative sources of energy and becoming far less reliant on foreign oil by safely extracting domestic oil and gas deposits in Alaska, on federal lands in the 48 states and offshore.

If Republicans stop panicking and put on these bold colors, they may just find Barack Obama to be one of the best things that ever happened to them.

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