The Magazine

Be the Party of No

It's the route to Republican landslides.

May 18, 2009, Vol. 14, No. 33 • By FRED BARNES
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The Republicans have fertile ground to plow. The public is already dubious of a government-run health insurance plan, the core of Obama-Care. And there's plenty more for Republicans to focus on, including the threat of a government panel that decides which medical practices are covered and which are ostracized. Defeating ObamaCare, given Democratic majorities on Capitol Hill, may be difficult but it's not an impossibility. If Republicans lead the charge, health care providers and consumers are likely to join the active opposition. Otherwise, they'll remain passive.

Obama says his policy to restrict greenhouse gases, known as cap and trade, is "market-based." It isn't. The cap on emissions would be imposed by a government panel. Polls show the majority of Americans disapprove of this. Worse for Obama, Frank Newport, the Gallup boss, says most Americans don't believe global warming poses a serious danger. So why choke off economic growth?

Then there are the unforced errors of the Obama administration to take advantage of. The president's decision to close Gitmo has backfired badly, leaving him with terrorists on his hands and nowhere to put them. The takeover of GM and Chrysler has raised concerns, even in Europe, over the competence and judgment of the Obama team. The American public is lopsidedly against further bailouts of the Big 2.

Republican efforts to escape being tagged the party of no are understandable. The label gives Democrats and the media echo chamber a talking point. Should the NCNA come up with new ideas that spruce up the party's image, that's helpful. The criticism of the council by social conservatives, by the way, is downright counter-productive. Their attacks merely delight Democrats and the press.
But no matter how restrained and sensible Republicans sound or how many useful ideas they develop, they're probably stuck with the party of no label. They have more to gain by actually accepting the role and taking on Obama vigorously. If they come to be dubbed the party of no, no, no, a thousand times no, all the better. It will mean they're succeeding.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of THE WEEKLY STANDARD.