Jennnifer Rubin: Republicans should think things through
Republicans are pleased with themselves these days. The president is mired in scandals while the public does not believe they have overreached. Veteran Senate Democrats have retired, making possible a flip in Senate control.
The GOP's strongest leaders
(Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie) are riding high in the polls.
Yet overconfidence is dangerous. There are grounds for concern:
* Immigration reform fails. Failure goes beyond a defeat for Rubio (a potential presidential candidate), beyond another round of blame-the-Republicans, and beyond yet another opportunity to broaden the party's appeal.
It would be the triumph of Malthusians (more people equals scarcity) over the optimistic, pro-growth vision that has propelled the party for the last 30 years.
* Crackpottery prevails on national security.
Between ludicrous misrepresentations --- the government is listening to your phone calls, the National Security Agency programs lacked oversight - and a refusal to recognize that our success in connecting the dots is the most important prevention technique we have, otherwise thoughtful Republicans sound like Sarah Palin (we're "becoming a totalitarian surveillance state").
Stop. Think. Make sure you've got the facts. Before opining on the Fourth Amendment, learn what it says.
* Republicans run only on scandals.
Sure, the GOP might pick up a few seats in the House and Senate here and there in 2014, but it probably won't be enough to take the Senate and it won't give Republicans a mandate or a chance to explain to the voters what they are for, not merely that the Obama folk are up to no good.
* They remain fixed on the budget and tax reform. It isn't happening. Move on. The president has made clear the price for everything is a tax hike, which is horrid for the anemic economy and a political non-starter.
* They become paranoid grouches. Between the "NSA is reading your emails" to thundering at fellow conservatives who understand immigration is the lifeblood of America, they display few happy warriors these days.
Yes, things are rotten, but they can be better.
* They choose poor candidates again in 2014. Enough said.
* They run to the left of President Obama on foreign policy. Our half-hearted effort on Syria, Iran's progress on nuclear weapons and China's cyberterrorism are arguments for decisive, action by the United States to help allies and keep foes in check.
* They neglect to spell out what plan they'd substitute for Obamacare. If they run on the impending disaster that awaits, they will need to assure the public there is an alternative - that provides better health care and lives up to the "affordable" promise of the Affordable Care Act.
* They savage and undermine House Speaker John Boehner.
When they have cut the legs out from under him, they have ended up with worse legislation. . . When they have been united, (such as on the sequester), they have been effective.
* They pay more attention to right-wing pundits and fear-mongers than to voters.
Republican voters are more flexible and want more effective government than you'd think from reading right-wing blogs or listening to the loudest talk-show hosts.
Lawmakers who are guided by such voices wind up out of sync with their constituents.
Rubin writes a blog, "Right Turn," for The Washington Post.