The Corner

Gloom

And I spoke to another one today. He thinks that the public is not going to change its mind about the Iraq war until after it’s over. “They might support it retrospectively once it’s won. But they’re not going to support it while it’s going on.” One of Bush’s wartime responsibilities was “to keep the country rallied,” and he didn’t.

They aren’t going to change their minds about the economy, either. People have not yet adjusted their mental picture of the economy to fit today’s dynamism. “The average person sees high gas prices and bankrupt airlines and GM layoffs and it doesn’t fit in their minds that this can be going on during a good economy. There are some ways in which it’s analogous to . . . say, 1880 to 1930. . . . The reality was you were creating unprecedented amounts of wealth and moving people out of agrarian poverty into what we started to call the working class. But the commentary was almost uniformly negative. People just didn’t understand it. Nobody was saying, Gosh, this is great, people are moving off the crummy farms and into cities.”

This strategist thinks Republicans should have done lobbying reform in February and earmark reform in March, and should have presented John Boehner’s accession to the House leadership as a fresh start. Instead, “we’ve lost three months.”

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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