Political Hay

New Year’s Resolutions for Other People

Let others improve their lives.

By 12.29.08

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As a miserable 2008 comes to a close, it is a time when many Americans will make New Year's resolutions.

I have given up making such declarations. For nearly 35 years I have resolved to undertake many self-improvement projects for the New Year: lose weight, learn French, quit swearing, write a book. So far I am batting .000 relative to these good, but, so far, unattainable intentions.

This year I am turning over a new leaf. I am going to suggest some useful resolutions for other people who might benefit from some serious thinking on how to improve their lives in the coming year.

Sarah Palin. Governor, only you can evaluate the relative priorities between remaining in public life versus managing your vibrant, lively family and household. But if you want to progress in politics, I would suggest finding common, non-ideological ground to occupy which would allow you to re-introduce yourself to independents and moderate Democrats (I have no doubt you are golden with the rank-and-file GOP). You should make support for special needs children your paramount, non-political cause. As a spokeswoman, a fundraiser, and advocate, drawing upon your personal experience, you can highlight the worth of these kids, the love they bring to parents and families, strike a blow for the culture of life and build trust and appreciation among many reasonable Americans who may not have quite gotten into the Zen of your vice-presidential candidacy.

Oh yes, if you stay in politics, a stint in the U.S. Senate would probably set you up nicely for national leadership after you immerse yourself in the intricacies of foreign policy and national security. You would improve, markedly, the image of the Alaska delegation, which has not distinguished itself in terms either of ethics or policy.

Mitch McConnell. I do not agree with David Frum on many things, but he was absolutely right about your role as Senate Republican Leader: you now lead the single most important political institution from the perspective of right-of-center governance, the Senate Republican Caucus. You and your small band are like the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae except with only a fraction of the troops. House Republicans are hopelessly outnumbered. You are all that stands in the way of a completely Europeanized America besotted with high taxes, corporate bailouts as far as the eye can see, and anemic economic growth. My advice: focus on only the really big issues and call upon your fellow Republicans to find their inner conservative, eschewing scandal, pork and small matters. You are The Man. Run with it. Your standing tall behind and with your stalwart colleague, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), on the Detroit bailout was spot on. Leadership has to come from the front.

Senate and House Republicans. Forget the earmarks. Think really hard about entitlement reform. Better yet, start hammering out a solid proposal for deflecting this killer meteor coming at us within our lifetime. I assume it will have to incorporate some kind of base-closing mechanism that delegates the actual work to an unelected body that would come back to Congress with legislation for an up or down vote on the entire package sans amendments. You will probably have to give up worrying about the next Farm Bill or that new federal building in your district for the time being. As bad as the current spending situation is, and the inevitable tax increases to follow, the $40-50 trillion liability now facing us dwarfs every other domestic and foreign threat except loose nukes and other WMDs.

President-Elect Obama. You are an impressive human being and, now, a historic figure. But your statement that deciding when human rights attach to unborn children was "above my pay grade" was pretty lame. I doubt that even your own supporters believed it. I sincerely hope you would eventually abandon this feigned agnosticism and embrace a more robust view of the rights of the unborn, but I am a realist.

So let me offer some hard-boiled political advice. Don't alienate the many independent and moderate-to-conservative Democrats who voted for you on economic grounds by actively supporting the Freedom of Choice Act. Many of us will be doing everything within our power to derail this monstrosity of a bill in Congress. Let it be. As your SNL impersonator might say, be "cool." Keep Senator Casey of Pennsylvania and those many new Democratic House members, from formerly Republican districts, happy or at least semi-contented. You have enough to worry about with the economy Chernobyl-ing right now.

United Auto Workers. Consider how a lower-paying job beats no job at all.

Chris Matthews. Please run for that open Senate seat in the Keystone State for which you pine. I think I would enjoy supporting the GOP in Pennsylvania. Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) is a bit more liberal than I am, but next to you he is Barry Goldwater re-incarnated. I will enjoy all the attack adds replaying many of your past television shows for the benefit of the voters up there.

Wall Street Operators and those formerly known as Masters of the Universe. Give all you have to the poor, after setting aside a modest amount for your wives and children, and join a Trappist monastery.

Happy New Year!



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About the Author

G. Tracy Mehan III served at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the administrations of both Presidents Bush. He is a consultant in Arlington, Virginia, and an adjunct professor at George Mason University School of Law.