Conservatives must avoid complacency 

A record-breaking gathering of more than 10,000 exuberant conservatives from around the country are heading home this weekend after a rollicking three-day Conservative Political Action Conference in the nation’s capital. Their excitement, enthusiasm and hopes for a conservative tsunami in this fall’s midterm elections was palpable in panel discussions, organizing meetings and social gatherings. Their confidence was understandable, given President Barack Obama’s plummeting public approval ratings and his apparent determination to keep doing the things that are driving those numbers to record lows for a first-term chief executive.

Speaker after speaker on the CPAC program blasted the Obama administration and the Democratic majorities in Congress for spending the country into insolvency, sending taxes skyrocketing, using TARP bailout funds to nationalize banking and two of the Big Three in Detroit, putting bureaucrats in control of health care, strangling the energy sector, and treating terrorists like criminals accused of robbing liquor stores rather than enemy combatants.

But running against an opponent with an extraordinarily unpopular record doesn’t guarantee victory in national elections, as “President” Tom Dewey showed. Conservatives cannot take for granted a positive outcome in the November contests. So much can happen in the eight months between now and the election to change the minds of voters who today seem ready to retire Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and a passel of incumbent Democrats in the Senate and House. Consider, for example, that several hundred billion dollars worth of stimulus projects will be funded in coming months, and, while the economic spark thus provided likely will be transient, it could still be just enough for Obama and the Democrats to persuade voters that their program is working.

Conservatives also better not be deluded into thinking Obama and the Democrats won’t do whatever they can, fair or foul, to win the coming campaign. Obama has of late been playing political rope-a-dope with congressional Republicans naive enough to believe his claims of sincerely wanting to discuss their proposals at the health care summit. In truth, Obama is working with Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on a package of procedural tricks to prevent a GOP filibuster and pass Obamacare on party-line votes, despite widespread public opposition. It’s hypocritical and might even be political suicide, but Obama’s strategy could still result in passage of his signature proposal, allowing him to claim to be “getting things done.” Cheering CPAC speakers was fun, but conservatives must work harder than ever in the months ahead to make sure voters know that they — not Obama — offer change Americans can believe in.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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