Jim Jenkins

The GOP's politics of ‘No’ is now ‘Uh, oh’

The Republican presidential field goes from a raging billionaire to a former Texas governor who sometimes appears too dense to get the water out of his cowboy boots if the instructions were written on the heel. And there’s the affable son and brother of former presidents who can’t seem to find the “X” on the stage telling him where to stand, to others too countless and clueless to mention.

Good grief. Now the billionaire is casting himself as the Last Angry Man even though he was born to a super-wealthy father and has enjoyed a life of ease and has nothing to be angry about. He is driving his GOP mates to dizzying distraction. But while the focus is on one personality and the wimpy responses to him by his opponents, the Republican Party is doing what it can to lose the 2016 election before it’s even begun. Uh, oh.

Even the insufferable MSNBC and Fox pundits, of both liberal and conservative persuasion, are stumbling around trying to figure out why their early predictions about the billionaire’s certain demise aren’t coming to pass. No matter how pointed their questions, how fearsome their interviews, Donald Trump basically says, “Your mother wears combat boots” and ignores them.

Uh, oh.

But the fiasco that is the Republican campaign for president has a more serious problem that, unless addressed, will find Republicans on Capitol Hill clutching their chests on Jan. 20, 2017, as they not only get to watch Hillary Clinton take the oath of office but Bill Clinton hold the Bible for her.

The problem is, simply, this: Republican candidates are universally mad, but they have no positive message at all. To a person, they want to repeal “Obamacare,” the health insurance program now covering at least 16 million Americans. They pronounce it a disaster. But it has not exploded the federal deficit; insurance companies like the new business; and even the most enthusiastic skeptics in Congress have backed away.

Not the candidates. And with the exception of a couple of very sketchy ideas, they have no alternative to improve health care and coverage. And then U.S. Supreme Court rulings upheld important principles of the Affordable Care Act. So they just keep hitting the president.

They’re mad, too, about the nuclear treaty with Iran. But again, their only alternative is to starve Iran or bomb Iran. And to keep hitting the president.

They talk about tax reform, mad about President Obama’s call for help for the middle class. But their idea is more breaks for the rich and business. And to keep hitting the president.

Some even are still talking about gay marriage, which the country and the courts have signaled they don’t care about. The horse isn’t just dead; it’s been under the ground in the pasture for months. But it’s something to use to still keep hitting the president.

Good grief. Thank goodness for their sakes that GOP moderates Dwight D. Eisenhower and Teddy Roosevelt are in repose. Ike would have been vilified as a liberal spender for the interstate highway system and unAmerican for criticizing the “military industrial complex.” And T.R. would have been accused by Teddy Cruz of riding up San Juan Hill to perform a gay marriage before smuggling illegal immigrants back in his wagon.

So here, then, is our last advice to our fellow conservatives in the GOP before the next debate: Find something positive to say, and soon. Or, start building productive relationships with the likely Cabinet members in the administration of the next President Clinton, particularly Secretary of State William Jefferson Clinton.

Deputy editorial page editor Jim Jenkins can be reached at 919-829-4513 or at jjenkins@newsobserver.com