"I don't think there's very much Republicans can do on economic matters right now, other than get out of the way . . . then let the chips fall where they may," said Don Sipple, a longtime GOP communications strategist. "If there's an opening down the road, or the stimulus package is a bust, that might open up some opportunities. But I think they've got to walk on eggshells for a while."
The weeks and months after an election are normally a time of upheaval, especially when a party finishes on the losing end. Today, after a two-month intraparty campaign, the GOP will install a new national chairman at its headquarters in Washington. In difficult political times such as these, however, the major parties often look outside the Beltway for fresh leadership, something welcomed by Republican governors in particular.
"We are, by default, the last folks standing since we don't [control] the White House, the House or the Senate," said South Carolina's Sanford, head of the 22-member Republican Governors Assn. and a possible presidential contender in 2012. "If we show real-world results in the here and the now, rather than simply blocking things . . . we can indeed show folks a different path."
Whatever they propose, and wherever it comes from, many Republicans agree it is important for party leaders to lower their voices and mind their tone, at least for the time being.
"If they are fire-breathing, ungracious and obstructionist for the sake of obstruction, that's a problem," said Peter Wehner, a senior fellow at Washington's Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative think tank, who helped develop policy in the second Bush White House. "But to position yourself as the party that wants to tap the brakes when you're going 120 miles per hour, that's not just loyal opposition but responsible opposition."
Wall St. bonuses
The $18.4-billion payout is a decline from the previous year but still angers the president. NATION, A21