Republicans today seem poised to benefit, at least temporarily, from the anti-Obama-Pelosi-Reid backlash. I'm one of those who is looking forward to the return of divided government in Washington. But I'm feeling more relieved than triumphant, more cautious than elated, given the speed with which the pendulum could swing back in Obama's favor if Republicans don't make the most of this shot at redemption.
Part of what killed Democrats was their hubris -- that and their fatal misreading of the "mandate" they thought they were handed two years ago. Republicans should not make the same mistake.
These could very well be short-term gains, given the unprecedented volatility of today's political climate, unless the GOP rediscovers its Reaganesque roots and begins building a coherent and compelling alternative to the super-statism of the other party. The Tea Party testifies to a growing public distrust, and disgust, with both political parties, but Republicans will suffer most if they don't heed the message this movement is sending. Being the anti-Obama and anti-Pelosi will be good enough for now, perhaps, given the mess they made of things. But it wasn't that long ago that Republicans were making a mess of things. And this will be a very short, unhappy honeymoon if they misread the message and return to old form.
Is two years of wandering in the political wilderness long enough for Republicans to have truly seen the light? I have my doubts. But unless they soon do, they'll be wandering in the wilderness again -- next time, maybe for good.