12:34 pm CST - December 31, 2009
Posted under On The Record
Ambitious Republicans should resolve to run for office next year.
By Karl Rove
First, to Mr. Obama’s staff: The Norwegian Nobel Committee didn’t want to wake the president to tell him about his prize earlier this year, but there shouldn’t be any reluctance to reassure the nation after a terrorist attack.
Also, why not resolve to have a few less “historic” moments? How many can one president really have, anyway? A little more grace toward his predecessor would help him, as would less TV time. He is wearing out his welcome and his speechwriters—judging by the quality of their work lately.
In 2010, Mr. Obama should work on his habit of leaving a room of people with deeply divided opinions thinking he agrees with all of them. That leads to disagreements over essential issues, like the meaning of his pledge to begin withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2011 and the nature of the new military mission there.
Finally, Mr. Obama should work on meaning what he says. He didn’t last year with all those health-care deadlines and tough talk supporting the public option. Now Mr. Obama will pivot to jobs and deficit reduction. As he tries to do that, voters will wonder if it’s just a ruse to save Democrats.
Vice President Joe Biden should resolve to speak publicly less. Every time he opens his mouth, the West Wing staff uses him to make the president look good by comparison.
White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers should take a lead from Santa Clause and make her list and check it twice . . . at the White House gates.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano should resolve to take a systems analysis course before she again declares that a system “worked.”
The Democratic congressional leadership should resolve to come up with Plan B. After rejecting bipartisanship in 2009, they won’t be able to pass bills in 2010 with only Democrats. Too many vulnerable Democrats will flake on big votes.
As for the Blue Dogs, why not resolve to become Republicans?
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid should resolve to strive for a little less unity in his caucus and in the meantime enjoy this term in office. It’s likely to be his last unless Nevada Republicans tear themselves apart next year for the privilege of running against him.
Republican congressional leaders should resolve not to sit on their laurels. They’re winning the battle for public opinion on health care, cap and trade, and spending, but by next fall, it won’t be enough to surf voter dissatisfaction with Mr. Obama and Democrats. Voters will want to know what Republican candidates would do.
A second Contract with America won’t suffice. The GOP really won in 1994 by arming candidates with a basket of issues to pick from. Next year, candidates must be fluent in kitchen-table issues from jobs to health care to deficits to spending.
Ambitious Republicans should resolve to run next year. There will be a wave of voter support for GOP positions, but authenticity, passion and conviction matter. Voters can smell them, so bone up on the issues and say what you believe, not what someone tells you to say.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine should resolve not to blame himself for the coming political tsunami that’ll hit his party next November. He should press Mr. Obama to raise lots of money to spend on close races in states where Democrats are in charge of redistricting.
If not, he’ll face a very ugly 2012 congressional election, too.
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele had a great year in generating enthusiasm among small donors, but ends 2009 with less cash on hand than he had when he started the year.
He should resolve to stop giving paid speeches and instead use his time repairing frayed relationships with major donors, whose support is critical to winning legislatures that will redraw congressional districts in 2011.
Tea Party members should resolve to resist being turned into another partisan political group. The movement’s power stems from its ideas, not from any party it supports, and it has been very successful in educating Americans and arousing the country.
It should let its members set their own personal course in primaries and fall elections.
As for me, I resolve to speak well of Mr. Obama more frequently, curry favor with liberals by being more critical of my fellow conservatives, and be guided by the words of Mark Twain, who said that the start of a New Year “is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”
Mr. Rove, the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, is the author of the forthcoming book “Courage and Consequence” (Threshold Editions).