Cross posted at the Partisan Report
No longer the incumbent party and no longer hampered with an unpopular president forced to defend at every turn. The GOP is finding unexpected freedom out of power and is looking for a comeback against a rattled Democratic Party.
Since the general election has ended the Republican Party has put together a string of wins. In Georgia, Saxby Chambliss was reelected in convincing fashion. In Louisiana, an unlikely win in CD-2 by Joseph Cao and a close battle in CD-4, that was prime for a Democrat victory, helped to send two more Republicans to Washington.
In Minnesota, Sen. Norm Coleman is maintaining a narrow lead in the state's recount despite the dizzying and questionable turns that race has taken.
The Republican Governors have stepped up and exerted themselves nationally on matters of fiscal responsibility, transparency in government, education reform, healthcare initiatives, and reform policies. They are recruiting and identifying individuals in various states that adhere to those principles in the hopes of winning the majority of the 38 scheduled gubernatorial races over the next two years.
Furthermore, the GOP is well aware of the gaps between the Democrat's and Republican's ground games. Now groups are emerging in dozens of states and leaders will go back to working for votes, formulating a clear message, and recruiting candidates in every state instead of relying on the benefit of being the party in power as became the customs in the past.
The successive losses over the past two elections, including a presidential one, have offered the chance at rejuvenation that will allow new leaders with new ideas to come forward. Most Republicans believe that the party's principles and message is still a winning formula. They just need to do a better job of staying on that message, which has been a problem in recent years.
In the Senate, Republicans prevented the Democrat sponsored bailout plan that two-thirds of Americans are against. However, they were quick to give their reasoning behind their opposition. The most vocal and visible among them was Sen. Bob Corker.
Sen. Corker pointed out the vast differences between the UAW wages and that of non-union autoworkers in other parts of the U.S. He pointed out that the wages and entitlements are unsustainable in the current economic environment. He said that now was the time for reform for the autoindustry and the UAW. The decision to vote no should offer a wonderful opportunity to enact them. He repeated the points shared by most that It would be irresponsible to give taxpayer dollars over to continue to subsidize a failed system. A failure at reform led to the No vote and was not the fault of Republicans and others against the bailout.
The American people overwhelmingly agree with that logic and if President Bush should go against the wishes of his Senators, it will only relieve the GOP of the Bush stigma. According to the American people, the Democrats are on the wrong side of this issue and the GOP's stance on the auto industry bailout will gain them political capital and work greatly towards their favor.
The Republicans are in full fledge comeback mode and will work hard to define themselves as the party of accountability and responsibility and will look for openings if the Democrats overreach during these tough economic times.
However, something more profound has been offered in the form of "Blagogate." Nothing substantial has been brought forward connecting President-elect Obama to any wrong doings but, at the very least, it is causing unwanted distractions and raising questions evolving around his administration.
Obama has handled the situation uncharacteristically sporadic. At first, he offered that he had no contact or held any discussions with Gov. Blagojevich over his vacant senate seat. This, of course, was in direct contradiction with David Axlerod's comment. Obama later said that he was confident that no one in his staff participated in any discussions with the governor. Then as pressure mounted even from his loyal base in the media, he offered to gather information on his transition team’s actions.
Now more and more reports are surfacing, some from within the Obama camp, that Rahm Emanuel had discussions with Blago and offered the governor Obama's desired Senate candidates. The ongoing developments have brought the case dangerously close to President-elect Obama.
All of the sudden the American political atmosphere has stopped being about Bush. The Republicans are no longer hampered by defending positions and decisions of their president. Instead, they are now the opposition and are fighting against the incumbent. The historic nature and extreme media exposure are expected to prevent Obama the typical honeymoon period usually enjoyed by incoming presidents. Instead, he is already seen as the incumbent due to a nearly two year campaign, in which he largely dominated. These factors play heavily on public opinion and the pulse of the American people.
The GOP sees an opening and are playing the usual role as the spirited opposition party on a crusade against corruption and ethic violations in just the same way Democrats did in 2006 when the Republicans were rocked by their own during the mid-terms elections.
The calls from pundits that the GOP should rethink its philosophy are not what most Republicans have in mind. Most conservatives in America (which outnumber liberals) believe in the party's principles and message. However, just like most Americans, conservatives believed that the GOP got off of that message and started governing like a party of power, not principle. The GOP leadership recognizes this and looks to reform their intra-party workings while slowly rebuilding their case to the American people.
If the Democrats continue to offer situations that help build the GOP's case the easier that task will be and the sooner they will be threatening Democratic control.
Cross posted at the Partisan Report