Hoping For Failure A Dim Hope

Hoping For Failure A Dim Hope 

by Doug Thompson

Standing around and openly hoping for President Obama to fail isn’t going to work for Republicans.

People rally around the president during a crisis — the most obvious outstanding lesson of 9/11.

The current financial crisis might be less of a shock than terrorist attacks, but the damage done is wider and more pervasive. Many of us know somebody killed in 9/11. Everybody knows somebody who was laid off in 2008 or 2009 — or will.

Like post-9/11 Democrats, Republicans today sound like they think the president they despise will have the voters turn against him quickly. Years will pass and they’ll still be waiting.

President George W. Bush literally did nothing right after 2002, starting with the drumroll for the Iraq invasion. Look how long it took for his failures to catch up with him.

Obama can’t possibly miss on the economy any worse than Bush misdirected the war on terror.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt didn’t cure the depression he inherited either. Roosevelt died in office while the Republican Party was still waiting for the country to tire of him. Then Roosevelt’s successor won the next election.

What really bothers me, though, is the repeat of a very destructive pattern of basing your own party’s success on failure.

Democrats had to wait to take over until the Republicans, who were in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, utterly failed. We’re now broke, in debt and at war. How bad will things have to become before voters turn back to Republicans in desperation?

Partisans on both sides — extreme partisans who seem to care more about their faction than their country — insist on absolute victory. Such victory is only possible after severe failure by the other side. Adaptation to changed circumstances — however critical the changed circumstances — seems impossible.

If both sides in a two-party system depend on the failure of the party in power to make political change and adaptation possible, what will be the state of the country?

What we have here are two species that don’t want to adapt. They would prefer to sit around hoping the other species will die and make room.

On a more practical level, let’s try a sports analogy. A team that depends on turnovers from the other side loses a lot.

George W. Bush’s presidency taught one thing. Presidents need checks and balances, not criticism from the back benches. As I’ve said many times, everybody — especially George W. Bush — would be better off today if Congress had given him real oversight instead of a blank check from the majority. What I see now looks very familiar: A powerful president in a time of crisis has an opposition that insists on isolating itself. That way, when everything comes crashing down and after the nation has suffered great harm, the “outs” can claim their hands are clean.

Obama’s popularity has dropped somewhat. Take a closer look at the numbers, though, or just read the Cook Political Report. Obama’s support among his own party and — vitally — among independents was already very, very strong and still found room to grow slightly. The drop-off in his job approval numbers is entirely among those who identify themselves as Republicans and who have now dropped all pretense of bipartisanship.

Long-time readers know what a skeptic I was about Obama’s campaign rhetoric about change and a new political beginning. I admit now that I’m impressed. Obama’s insistence on trying to bring the Republicans along has frustrated many people within his own party. However, it has forged a solid majority among the nation as a whole. That’s the true significance of support from independents. This is no small feat. And if his opposition insists on not bending until he breaks, I’m betting they’ll break first.

The party that brings its base to the polls along with the independents wins elections. President Obama is doing a great job of uniting his base and convincing independents to support him. He’s also doing a great job of uniting the GOP base — and isolating it.

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