Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Teaching a Pig to Sing

The world is abuzz with speculation about whether "lipstick on a pig" was a deliberately ungracious insult of Gov Palin from Sen Obama, or an unfortunate choice of words. For the Republicans, this is good news and bad news.

The good news is that Sen Obama clearly has no message, he's out of his comfort zone and is flailing. From what we've seen so far, he's gaffe-prone and surprisingly ineloquent when forced to speak unprepared.

The bad news is that playing gotcha games is not good turf for the Republicans and they should make some effort to get out of there as soon as possible. In a very particular way the Republicans have unwound a significant part of the legacy of President Bush in the last ten days or so. They have the nation's attention and people are listening to what they have to say. It's been so long since the party has gotten a decent hearing that it's imperative to leverage this wisely. Ultimately our message to the voters has nothing to do with complaints about Sen Obama insulting them so let's not waste our time teaching trying to teach this particular pig to sing.

Instead, the economy is a very ripe issue for the Republicans, and if the McCain people play their cards right, the Presidential race could be functionally over by the beginning of October. The Republicans already own the oil issue. As it happens they stand to benefit from some good timing as well. The Congressional ban on offshore drilling sunsets at the end of the month. The debate over renewing it, inside and outside the halls of Congress, will work to the Republicans' benefit. The trick for the Congressional GOP is to establish the energy analog of the Brezhnev Doctrine. With respect to energy production, they are in favor of "all of the above" The Democrats will acquiesce to some forms of energy production and not others. The GOP should take whatever the Democrats acquiesce to, and agitate for the rest. They must resist the temptation to think that because they have some deal with the Democrats, the leftover forms of energy production are "off the table." The country will be better off for whatever energy production the Democrats allow, and the Democrats will look bad no matter what they do.

Plus, just Monday the government announced the takeover of GSE's Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, both of which happen to have been woefully mismanaged by Democratic pooh-bahs sucking very generously on the public teat. McCain-Palin can't unilaterally promise to prop the housing market and end the mortgage crisis, but they can demonstrate that they are dialed in to the the real problems facing America.

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