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Political Discourse in the Age of Obama

The recriminations in which the Democrats have engaged during the past few days evince their growing panic. When a party senses it is about to be administered a crushing rebuke, acrimony rather than comity is what it often musters up.

But here’s a pretty safe bet: in the next few days Hill Democrats and the White House will agree to a truce, even if only a tense one; and they will agree that it is in the interest of all of them to attack Republicans rather than each other. And that is what they will do, with relish.

We are about to enter a period that will be everything Barack Obama promised he would deliver us from: petty politics, ad hominem attacks, silly and unserious charges, cartoon images of opponents, and attempts to divide Americans in order to gain a temporary political advantage, etc.

Across the board, Democrats understand that they have no agenda to run on and no record to defend. “This is not a hope election, it’s a fear election,” Democratic strategist Paul Begala reportedly told young liberal activists recently. “Since you don’t have your hero [Obama] on the ballot, make sure you have a villain.” It will be a discouraging thing for citizens to watch unfold. And I doubt it will succeed. Democrats are facing headwinds gusting at record speeds. They cannot undo the basic trajectory of this election. They cannot undo the radical policies of Barack Obama. And they cannot assuage the anger and remorse many voters feel right now.

Still, Republicans need to prepare for the ugly onslaught to come. They need to be aggressive, quick, and principled in their responses. And they should not count on liberal voices who, when it is convenient, champion civility, high-minded dialogue, and reasoned debate to call off the attack dogs. After all, we’re talking about power here. If the village has to be burned down in order to save it, so be it. It’s so much easier to attack the Tea Party as the modern-day equivalent of the KKK than it is to defend the stimulus package.

Welcome to political discourse in the Age of Obama.


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