For critics of the Republicans, the past few weeks have generated a perfect storm of opportunities to beat up on the Grand Old Party. There’s the 2012 election, of course; Mitt Romney is still drawing gleeful, snarky comments from a cross section of his foes almost two months after the fact.
He lost. It’s over. Enough already.
There is much caterwaul about the Republican Party as well. The narrative is always the same, no matter which liberal news organization, strategic operative or progressive pundit is pushing it. Either the party is archaic, tired and lost, or conniving, arrogant and out of touch. Nobody likes Republicans. They are bad and mean. And rich. Look at these poll numbers that indicate Republicans are bad and mean and rich. See?
And of course, Republicans alone caused the the “fiscal cliff” because they are so “extreme” and uncooperative, at least according to polls of the moment that insist the nation has Republican fatigue.
But wait. As the pollsters themselves will affirm, the American people are also weary of unproductive public discourse and a news media that appears to celebrate and even reward incivility in our elected officials and political leaders. Republican bashing could backfire. Endless harping against the ghastly GOP grows meaningless after a while; the public is seeking practical solutions to our financial woes, national security issues, cultural identity.
A small holiday sidelight: Amazingly enough, the endless criticism of Republicans has gotten a little respite. House Speaker John A. Boehner — who’s now considered “bloodied” by the Associated Press — got a little love from an unlikely source: National Public Radio. As we head into the warmth of Christmas Eve, consider this comment from Ron Elving, NPR’s senior Washington editor.
“I actually think there is a way for John Boehner to recover from all this and to come out of it, really, as something of a hero in the broad public sense, in the general American assessment of his speakership — and even then to keep his speakership when the new Congress convenes in January,” Mr. Elving told his fellow NPR host Guy Raz.
Mr. Elving recommends renewed negotiations with President Obama and a “half-and-half” deal between the warring sides. Meaning, half of the Democrats and half of the Republicans, plus one.
“So that at that point it’s clear to the Senate they’ve got to vote for this or we’re going over the cliff. That could probably clear the Senate — probably,” he says. “And it could get done, theoretically, in time to be approved before the new tax and spending changes everybody’s so afraid of really kick in come January.”
Even if Mr. Boehner has to get help from Democrats to get a deal, he would be in a better position in the end, Mr. Elving said.
“That, I believe, would make enough Republicans feel better than they feel right now. Right now, the way they feel is that they’ve been embarrassed by some of their members, their speaker has been humiliated in public,” he says. “This is not a long-term strategy for the Republican Party. I think most of the House Republicans would prefer another scenario than this, something with a little bit more of a future.”
And the future scenario for Democrats? The party could be less smug, drop the Schadenfreude and get back to business. That would be a long-term strategy, and make for a happier new year.