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Will The GOP Learn The Wrong Lesson ?

by @ 9:35 pm on August 20, 2009. Filed under Barack Obama, Politics, Republicans

Over at The American Spectator, Jim Antle notes that the Republican Party may not be drawing the right lessons from it’s current rebound:

Democrats won the 2006 and 2008 elections not because the country had embraced them but because George W. Bush and congressional Republicans did not seem to have answers for what ailed the country. When the promised weapons of mass destruction did not materialize, Republicans did not have a satisfactory answer for what we were doing in Iraq. When the economy began to sputter, Republicans did not offer solutions that inspired confidence. When the levees broke in New Orleans, Bush thought Brownie was doing a heckuva job.

Now it is the Democrats who are passing stimulus plans that have yet to stimulate, who are proposing health care bills they can’t explain how they are going to pay for, who are getting caught up in Washington’s “culture of corruption,” and who are presiding over a country that Americans still generally think is on the wrong track.

Republicans are benefiting not because the American people have suddenly rediscovered the greatness of George W. Bush’s party. They are gaining because in a two-party system, they are the only alternative. The danger for Republicans, who are being rewarded for not rebranding, is that they are totally at the mercy of events. Events might not always make the party in power look so bad. Remember that both Presidents Bush once had approval ratings in excess of 90 percent.

The most obvious event that is totally outside of the GOP’s control, of course, is the state of the economy. If it improves between now and 2010 (or 2012), then a large part of the Republican argument against Obama will be moot. Yes, they can argue about longer-term effects from his policies down the road, but what matters most at election time is how the economy is doing right now, not what might happen two or three years down the road.

Even now, there are signs that the economy might just be turning around:

NEW YORK — A research group’s measure of employment, stocks and other indicators suggests that the recession will end this summer, if it hasn’t already.

The Conference Board said Thursday that its index of leading indicators rose 0.6 percent in July, its fourth straight gain. The measure is meant to project economic activity in the next three to six months.

The indicators suggest the recession has bottomed out, and growth in economic activity will begin soon. Gross domestic product, which has shrunk for four straight quarters, could grow this quarter, said Ken Goldstein, the Conference Board’s economist.

“Looks like the recession ended in June,” Tim Quinlan, economic analyst for Wells Fargo Securities, wrote in a research note. The National Bureau of Economic Research, which officially calls the beginning and end of economic cycles, has in the past set an end-date to recessions after several consecutive months of gains in the leading indicators, he said.

If that continues, and the recovery trickles down to consumers, then Obama and the Democrats are likely to be in a very good position for the mid-term elections and beyond.

Republicans and others on the right are making the overly optimistic assumption that the turnaround in the polls means that the public has endorsed their ideas. It may turn out that they were just the most convenient port in a storm.

H/T: Rod Dreher

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