It's a big day
It's hard to overstate the cheery mood of conservatives today as John Boehner ascends to the House speakership, the new House majority assumes power and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell gets fresh troops. It is not arrogance or braggadocio. Perhaps it is relief that the reign of Nancy Pelosi is over. Maybe it is the sort of relief one feels emerging from a car crash (in this case, the 2008 election) to find that you've survived in one piece. And there is a certain relief that the conservative message of small government and fiscal discipline resonated with the American people in 2010. Republicans after 2008 convinced themselves the electorate hadn't moved to the left; but it sure is reassuring to have proof in the form of landslide election returns.
Nothing can sour their mood today. True, Nancy Pelosi had an embarrassing defection of 19 Democrats in her election as minority leader. But Republicans aren't in a rub-salt-in-the-wounds mood. They still are savoring the "minority" part of that.
And to top it off, Robert Gibbs also announced he is departing. It is fair to say that he had his moments of what conservatives dubbed "comedy gold" -- as reporters, most frequently Jake Tapper, tied him up in knots. He is one of the less cheery and certainly less forthcoming press secretaries in recent memory. He sure didn't win any brownie points with his own party.
However, if Gibbs was unduly partisan or used the White House podium to swipe at everyone from Fox News to Gallup polling to Rush Limbaugh in a way many conservatives thought denigrated the White House, he was, after all, simply carrying out his boss's mandate. To the extent he became increasingly screechy and unconvincing in his defense of Democratic maneuvers, it was simply a reflection of the president's tone and fortunes.
But there again, Republicans are in a magnanimous mood. Former press secretary to George W. Bush, Dana Perino, tells me, "The press secretary position is a wonderful opportunity and a high honor, and he has served President Obama very well. The role has changed over the years with the 24/7 news cycle, and so there's never a moment when you're not pulled in many different directions. He is being generous with his time in making sure there will be a smooth transition period for whoever takes over at the podium." She even offers some advice: "Robert has an exciting future ahead of him, and the only advice I'd give is to take off even more time than he thinks he may need." Well, there is a code of shared service among those who've held one of the toughest jobs in town.
For now, Republicans are reveling in the moment. Majority Leader Eric Cantor bats down the suggestion that Republicans will come up short in shaving $100 billion off the 2011 budget. And for now, the 112th Congress has performed perfectly. They haven't done anything, of course. That's why it's good to relish the day; it's all downhill from here.
| January 5, 2011; 2:15 PM ET
Categories: House GOP, Obama White House
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Posted by: TD01 | January 5, 2011 7:06 PM | Report abuse
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