- The Washington Times - Friday, August 29, 2008

OP-ED:

DENVER.

You’ve got to give Hillary Clinton credit. She made politics a contact sport - swatting off critics and standing by her man who had been caught with his pants down and, all these years later, winning a hand-wrestling match with Barack Obama. She (and her man, Bill) reluctantly handed over the baton this week. But hand it over she did. The fun at last begins.

Next week, the Republicans take their own stage. Will they take cues from the True Blues and hand over control of the party to a newcomer and an impatient generation of I-want-it-and-I-want-it-now voters? I know. That’s an unfair question.


These eager voters now at the helm of the Democratic Party have heard their parents praise the Greatest Generation and John McCain’s. These are voters who well know the migration patterns of blacks from the South to the North. These are voters who grew up recycling and thought Mister Rogers was boring. (Tell them you’ve found an old eight-track tape of Steely Dan and they’ll ask if he’s the guy who played drums for Bob Marley.)

Look, the Democrats have raised the stakes. The 2008 race for the White House isn’t against just Bill and Hillary anymore. It’s a fight to determine who gets America’s bread and butter (and safety-locked guns).

This election is about a new direction for America. If Mr. McCain isn’t Bush III, he’d better inform the voting public. If Cindy McCain wants to end the whispers that she is a recovering drug addict, then she’d better inform the voting public. If Republicans really and truly have a meat-and-potatoes plan to restore America from sea to shining sea, they’d better publicize it because the Democrats are hankering for a showdown.

Merely criticizing the Democrats won’t cut it. Mr. McCain is on the attack, but that’s precisely what the Democrats want. Hillary and Bill love a brawl.

But Republicans have to remember that the Democrats have a hungry phalanx of former presidents and vice presidents that the Republicans just don’t have. Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, and many others in the lot have gone on to glory. No doubt they’re routing from on high, but facts are facts. They also must remember that the younger voters, those who don’t see America as black and white as their parents and grandparents did, are ready for action, too. Dismiss them and it will be at the peril of losing the White House.

Preaching President Bush’s successes to the evangelical choir is fine; but doing so will fall way short with lower- and middle-class Americans who, because of day-to-day living obstacles, can’t see the light at the end of an eight-year-long tunnel.

Everything that is not quite right with America will be blamed on Republicans. Why? Because Republicans stole the election in 2000 and now look what they hath wrought. (You see where I’m going.)

Fear-mongering - the terrorists are coming, the terrorists are coming - and promises that tomorrow will be a brighter economic day - as in “Read my lips. No new taxes” - can’t hold a candle to the idealism of the Democrats’ 2008 campaign.

The refrain “what have you done for me lately” has replaced “happy days are here again.”

Oh, Republicans can play the game. There’s nothing more they like than a fight. (Or is that a war?) They can nominate a woman, gay or Hispanic for vice president if they want to. They can march black Republicans across the stage in full view during primetime. They can even have Nancy Reagan tell viewers to just say no to the Democrats’ front man. They can do any or all of the above, or they can mimic the American-dreamlike state that we all witnessed during the Democratic convention.

What they can’t do - if they want to hold onto the White House - is misread the sentiment that, like it or not, is sweeping the country. Americans want to feel good - and they want to feel good now.

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