The Magazine

Put on a Happy Face

The Republican challenge.

Nov 17, 2008, Vol. 14, No. 09 • By FRED BARNES
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Blame Game. Republicans shouldn't indulge in recriminations. This is one way to get press attention, but there's a political price. The media love it when Republicans attack Republicans--because it makes Republicans look bad. Does anyone think better of the McCain campaign now that unnamed aides are leaking nasty stories about Sarah Palin? Hardly.

Throwing around blame will only strengthen Obama's hand. He'll look like the true adult in Washington. After Hillary Clinton lost the Democratic nomination to Obama, her top advisers began attacking each other. This reinforced the idea that her loss was deserved. Republicans shouldn't follow the Clinton model.

Republican Weakness. Where is it? In the Northeast, across the upper Midwest, and in cities and upscale suburbs. To gain a majority in Congress, Republicans will have to win House and Senate seats in those places. To win the presidency, they'll have to appeal to voters in those locations.

Republicans in Washington must keep these voters--they're more moderate than conservative--in mind and avoid alienating them. Republicans don't need to jettison conservative principles. Ryan, the party's most innovative thinker, says Republicans need only apply these principles to the new political era, and moderates will be comfortable with the result.

One more thing is essential, according to Ryan. "We've got to be happy warriors," he says. "We've got to stop being the angry white guy party." Otherwise, Republicans will play right into Obama's hands.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of THE WEEKLY STANDARD.