Here’s another thing to keep in mind:There's a little bit more to being the loyal opposition than just shrieking, "How dare you question my patriotism when all I'm doing is disagreeing with your vile, pin-headed, fraudulently elected administration," as we have seen over the past eight years. The Democrats got away with this because they had been wandering in the legislative wilderness for six years before being stricken with Bush Derangement Syndrome. It gave them enough time to come up with a few real ideas. And they were certainly helped by the fact that Bush really was amazingly unpopular and pretty dreadful at communicating what few ideas he had.
Those who press this Ayers line of attack are whipping Republicans and conservatives into a fury that is going to be very hard to calm after November. Is it really wise to send conservatives into opposition in a mood of disdain and fury for a man who may well be the next president of the United States, incidentally the first African-American president? Anger is a very bad political adviser. It can isolate us and push us to the extremes at exactly the moment when we ought to be rebuilding, rethinking, regrouping and recruiting.
I’m not suggesting that we remit our opposition to a hypothetical President Obama. Only that an outgunned party will need to stay cool. A big part of Obama’s appeal is his self-command. It’s a genuinely impressive quality. Let’s emulate it. We’ll be needing it.
The GOP hasn't had the luxury of getting used to being the legislative minority, nor is it likely that the Obama Administration will be anywhere near as ham-handed as Bush's. Obama is almost doomed to enact some of the stupidest policies imaginable but he'll still be able to explain them and defend them. Republican fury will look... silly.
Say it with me, folks: Remember the Whig Party. Remember the Whig Party...
UPDATE 10/9/08: From George Will:
In 1987, on the eve of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's third victory, the head of her Conservative Party told a visiting columnist: "Someday, Labour will win an election. Our job is to hold on until they are sane." Republicans, winners of seven of the past 10 presidential elections, had better hope they have held on long enough.It's gonna be ugly.