“Why 2012 Should Be a GOP Year”

— Headline, George Will’s New Year’s column

The Oracle has looked into his crystal ball and foreseen the future. According to the Washington Post‘s pre-eminent conservative pundit, Republicans should “stride confidently” into the coming election year, with nothing but good news ahead – unless you include losing the presidency again to Barack Obama.

That’s what the man said: Republicans will win the House and Senate but because of a flawed nominating process will lose the White House. They can then spend the next four years blocking everything Obama wants to do in a happy state of partisan gridlock.

Flashback: I recall a bright young Post columnist once summing up a dismal political situation with the trenchant observation that “if you set your standards low enough a train wreck can be counted a success.”

That columnist, if my octogenarian memory serves, was George Will. But of course George, as he confessed in another recent column, has now reached the septuagenarian stage of life, so he can be forgiven a few lapses; such as recommending, in his  second column of the new year, that a Romney-Santorum ticket is just what Republicans need to capture the key state of Pennsylvania come November.

That would be Rick Santorum, the Great Right Hope of the moment, who lost his home state of Pennsylvania by 17 points when he ran for re-election to the U.S. Senate. Small wonder why Will is touting a Romney-Santorum ticket for the fall: He’s out to make his prediction of an Obama victory a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But I digress — a common failing among those who have lived through too many presidential elections to take the promise of “change” seriously. My original point was that if the GOP loses to Obama in November it won’t be because of its nominating process but the fact that Republicans took over the House in the mid-term elections.

Lucky Barack Obama. What would the odds against his re-election be this new year if he didn’t have an out-of-control Republican majority in the House to blame for his failure to deliver “change you can believe in.”

A little political history is in order, if Professor Gingrich won’t mind my muscling into his territory:

In 1948 Harry Truman was so unpopular that both the left and right wings of his party broke off to nominate their own candidates for president. Yet he won re-election not by running against his nominal opponent, Tom Dewey, but a Republican Congress whose time and energy had been spent trying to repeal the New Deal.

Flash forward half-a-century to find another unpopular Democratic president rescued by the mid-term election of a Republican House that undid itself by closing down the government because, as its Speaker confessed, he was asked to leave Air Force One from the rear rather than the front exit.

In that case, it was lucky Bill Clinton. What would the odds against his re-election have been in 1996 if he hadn’t had an out-of-control Newt Gingrich to blame for his failure to deliver the New Covenant he’d promised.

Obviously the idea that elephants never forget doesn’t apply to pachyderms of the political species. On the other hand their Democratic opponents have taken heed: A front-page New Year’s headline in the New York Times tells us OBAMA PLANS TO RUN AGAINST CONGRESS.


Steele might become a reasonably good writer if he would pay a little more attention to grammar, learn something about the propriety and disposition of words and, incidentally, get some information on the subject he intends to handle.

                                 — Jonathan Swift on Richard Steele