The Republican who can win

The Republican who wants to win would avoid talk of the costs that our spendthrift ways, particularly benefits like Social Security, are supposedly heaping on future generations. He would especially avoid painting images of the pain Americans feel at burdening their children and grandchildren. This high-minded talk, rooted in fantasy, isn’t going to warm the hearts of voters of mature age—and they are legion—who feel no such pain. None. And they don’t like being told that they do, or that they should feel it, or that they’re stealing from the young. They’ve spent their working lives paying in to Social Security, their investment. Adjustments have to be made to the system, as they now know. Which makes it even more unlikely they’ll welcome handwringing about the plight of future generations.

The Republican who wins will have to know, and show that he knows, that most Americans aren’t sitting around worried to death about big government—they’re worried about jobs and what they have in savings…

The Republican candidate would have to make clear just how far removed from reality, how alien to the consciousness of most Americans, is this reflexive view of the nation as morally suspect, ever obliged to prove its respectability to a watching world. The attorney general still refuses to drop charges against two CIA employees accused of using enhanced interrogation techniques to extract information from terrorists—notwithstanding the recommendations of investigators looking into the case that the charges merited no prosecution.