Defense wins championships. That is the mantra of the National Football League, and it is a valid concept. Last year's Super Bowl was decided when one of the best quarterbacks in league history couldn't take the ball downfield against a gambling New Orleans Saints secondary. Superlative defenses are why nondescript quarterbacks such as Trent Dilfer and Jim McMahon own Super Bowl rings while Hall of Fame passers such as Fran Tarkenton and Dan Marino do not.
But politics is not football. And in politics, it is offense that transforms the nation.
Consider the difference between when the Republicans held the presidency, the Senate and the House of Representatives at the turn of the century and the present Democratic domination. Perhaps in part because of Karl Rove's fantasy of a permanent Republican majority, but more likely because of the usual corruption of power, the Republicans accomplished absolutely nothing with regard to their purported goals of creating a more constitutional and smaller government. And every time a genuine conservative proposed a potentially significant reduction in federal power, it was rapidly nipped in the bud by Republican defectors voting with the Democrats.
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In contrast, the Democrats have resolutely remained on target despite a daunting array of obstacles. Obama's popularity is gone, and he looks increasingly like a one-term president. If the various state legislatures have anything to say about their candidate-certification processes, it is uncertain if the man will even be able to run for re-election. (Although, since Obama doesn't need to win any states he lost in 2008, it may not matter that some Republican states are rewriting their election laws. Wouldn't it be fascinating if the winning candidate in 2012 was not even on the ballot in several of the 50 states?) Party-identification polls have moved heavily in the Republican Party's favor, and about the only things less popular than Obama these days are the congressional Democrats.
But none of this prevented Obama from ramming Obamacare down the throats of the very vocal public opposition. Popularity, or the lack thereof, clearly means nothing to Obama. Even though the tea party has grown more visible and more apparently influential, Obama doesn't hesitate to openly mock it. And as for the opinion of the American people at large, Obama is clearly no more concerned about what they think about immigration than what they thought about bailing out the Wall Street banks, taking over General Motors or seeing their health-care system nationalized. Compared to the three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust offenses that characterized previous Republican administrations, the Obama administration is the run-and-shoot.
Whereas previous administrations would have looked at the horrific effect on the polls that the actions of their party members in the House and Senate have had and retreated into a temporary lame-duck status, if not reversed course entirely, Obama and the congressional Democrats are instead pressing ahead. Unlike the Republicans, they have correctly read the lessons of American political history, and they are confident that in the future the Republicans will not overturn whatever they manage to get down before they are thrown out of office. This is why they will press furiously for a false financial reform that further empowers Wall Street, an immigration amnesty that calcifies the election of a more vibrant and left-leaning American electorate and anything else they think sufficiently important before they lose the House of Representatives in November.
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Defense wins championships in the NFL. But in politics, defense destroys nations.
It would be good if the Republican Party were actually the "Party of No" instead of the "Party of Well, OK, But How About Just a Little Less?" But either way, the Republican Party cannot possibly be the potential salvation of America because it is not a proactive party and its members are not dedicated to overturning the actions of past administrations and past Congresses, much less advancing the cause of small and limited government.
Obama has accomplished more of the progressive program in 18 months than Bill Clinton managed in eight years. And he has at least another six months to proceed with it without interruption. Unfortunately, the Republican Party is very much like a football team that is down 24-0, whose coach announces that his new plan to win the game is to make a radical switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4.