Improving the party's image is a worthy cause, but it isn't what Republicans ought to be emphasizing right now. They have a more important mission: to be the party of no. And not just a party that bucks Obama and Democrats on easy issues like releasing Gitmo terrorists in this country, but one committed to aggressive, attention-grabbing opposition to the entire Obama agenda.
Many Republicans recoil from being combative adversaries of a popular president. They shouldn't. Opposing Obama across-the-board on his sweeping domestic initiatives makes sense on substance and politics. His policies--on spending, taxes, health care, energy, intervention in the economy, etc.--would change the country in ways most Americans don't believe in. That's the substance. And a year or 18 months from now, after those policies have been picked apart and exposed and possibly defeated, the political momentum is likely to have shifted away from Obama and Democrats.
This scenario has occurred time and again.
Why do you think Democrats won the House and Senate in 2006 and bolstered their majorities in 2008? It wasn't because they were more thoughtful, offered compelling alternatives, or had improved their brand. They won because they opposed unpopular policies of President Bush and exploited Republican scandals in Congress. They were highly partisan and not very nice about it.
If Republicans scan their history, they'll discover unbridled opposition to bad
Democratic policies pays off. Those two factors, unattractive policies plus strong opposition, were responsible for the Republican landslides in 1938, 1946, 1966, 1980, and 1994. A similar blowout may be beyond the reach of Republicans in 2010, but stranger things have happened in electoral politics. They'll lose nothing by trying.
A couple weeks back on the O'Reilly Factor, Dick Morris was asked who will lead and UNITE the party. Morris responded that the one politician that currently unites, or at least should unite, the Republicans is Barack Obama.
All of this actually makes sense. The number one job of the opposition is to OPPOSE. Often, the opposition gets labeled as the party of NO but the party in power. Ultimately, the strategy of labeling your opponents as the party of no largely depends on the success of your own policies.
2010 is not going to be a referendum on the Republicans ability to work with the president. Instead, it will be a referendum on the president's policies. The same will largely be true in 2012.
Frankly, if Republicans thought that a plethora of big government programs, tax increases, and massive government spending were the answer, they would be Democrats. As such, what the loyal opposition must focus on now is to oppose.
Right now, Republicans must focus on pointing out all the flaws in the president's domestic and foreign agenda. They must hammer away at the out of control deficts. They must hammer away at how unsafe we are getting from the president's apology tour, closing GITMO, and ending EIT's. They must point out the president's radical social agenda including abortion on demand, Supreme Court justices that exhibit first and foremost "empathy", and also his unholy alliance with the unions. By pointing all of this out, they put themselves in position to oppose all of these policies if and when they fail.