All of these officials should be applauded. I disagree with them in
many ways politically. I also question whether this is the latest of
many political pivots for Gingrich. But I praise and respect them for
accepting the basic dynamics of the race. Publicly admitting you were
wrong is never easy.
The reaction of far-right Republicans to the results, on the other
hand, was astonishing. They argued that the vast swathes of female and
minority voters who supported Obama would have supported an arch
"A succession of potential Republican nominees - Sarah Palin, Michele
Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich - were bright, attractive, and
have compelling narratives," Michael Hammond wrote on Red State, a
conservative blog. "Instead, Republican voters (or, at least, enough of
them) bought into this Democratic mantra that only a liberal
stand-for-nothing Republican can win a presidential election."
One group of Republicans is facing reality. Another is not. President
Obama needs to quickly move to further marginalize the extreme
His victory speech last night ended on a stirring note, but I wished
it had contained concrete, bipartisan gestures. James Bennet of The Atlantic got it right in a message he posted on Twitter during the early part of the speech.
"Give us an action plan," Bennet wrote. "Gang of 8 to the White House for budget talks next week; Romney to be commerce secretary; not stories but specifics."
Obama, who has established few strong relationships with members of
Congress, must personally engage in the effort to avert the "fiscal
cliff." The moderate Republican senators who are members of the Gang of 8 should be a particular focus.
Cynics will scoff, but some positive signs emerged Wednesday. The
White House released a statement saying that Obama had called
congressional leaders from both parties Tuesday night and Wednesday
morning and reiterated his support for a bipartisan solution to the
fiscal cliff. In a press conference, House Speaker John Boehner said
that he would be open to increasing tax revenues through tax reforms.
"We are ready to be led," Boehner said.
If Obama can strike an elusive "grand bargain" with Republicans, I
believe it will strengthen him and the moderate wing of the GOP. The
question, of course, is how far Obama should bend. Recalcitrance from
the far right should not be rewarded. Compromise by moderate Republicans
If Mitch McConnell and John Boehner choose to maintain their
opposition to tax increases of any kind on the wealthy, Obama should
allow the country to fall off the fiscal cliff.The best time for the
damage to occur is now - just after Obama has won another four years.
Our country is deeply partisan. Yet Americans are also frustrated
with the failure of both parties to get anything done. Over time, I
believe that partisan brinksmanship will lose popularity.