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Woodrow Wilson Obama: Every Hundred Years an Ivy League Democrat’s Presidential Obsession Costs His Party Big

I. The First Time as Tragedy, the Second Time as Farce

Karl Marx, building on an observation of the German philosopher G.F.W. Hegel, once wrote, “All great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice…The first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.

So, in the annals of world-historic personages, we might consider our 28th President, Woodrow Wilson; his tenure in office, replete with epic consequences and controversies, was, ultimately, a tragedy.

And then we can consider our 44th President, Barack Obama; he might be a perfectly earnest fellow, but even so, his time in the Oval Office has been a farce—a fandango of flummoxed expectations. To be sure, it’s been a farce tinged with tragedy inflicted on the innocent, as we saw on Tuesday in San Bernardino, CA. Yet the bloodshed, carnage, and grave risk to national security notwithstanding, yes, Obama’s has been a farcical presidency.

Still, Wilson and Obama, their presidencies nearly a century apart, have plenty of similarities, even as they also have striking differences.

First, the similarities:

*Both men were Ivy League-educated politicians, better noted for soaring oratory than actual accomplishment.

*Both men were two-term Democratic presidents whose time in office marked a major shrinkage of their party, such that by the sixth year of their presidencies, the opposition Republicans had gained control of both houses of Congress.

*Both men then compounded their difficulties in their seventh year by undertaking difficult diplomatic efforts—undertakings dubbed “dubious,” even “dangerous,” by most Americans. Yes, in both presidencies, their late-term efforts were at first regarded with suspicion by Congress and the American people, and then their efforts blossomed into fleurs de mal of outright unpopularity.

So those are the similarities between Wilson and Obama. Now for the big difference—the difference between tragedy and farce.

Although he dithered for a time, and although he was not a strong war leader, Wilson undeniably was our commander-in-chief during the US victory in World War One, and he thereby thwarted German military domination over the European continent. So for that achievement alone, Wilson deserves our gratitude.

(And yes, Woodrow Wilson is controversial these days because of his record on civil rights; however, we might remind the protestors that it’s the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, not the “Wilson School of Race Relations.”)

Yet Wilson was much more than just a president who won a war. His vision of a better post-war world, summed up in his Fourteen Points, presented to Congress during the war, in January 1918, helped burnish his legacy—or, if one prefers, stoked still more controversy. Point One, for example, was a strong rejection of secret alliance-making, seen as one of the underlying causes of the “Great War.” As Wilson put it, he wanted “open covenants of peace, openly arrived at … diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.” And so the Points continued in a litany of idealistic aspiration, all the way to Point Fourteen, which pledged to create a new international body:

A general association of nations…for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.

Yes, Wilson promised a “new world order,” which might seem scary to some. Still, it’s worth remembering that back then, the “old world order” looked even scarier.

In November 1918, after the Great War was won, and the Kaiser defeated, Wilson traveled to Paris, remaining there for three months and negotiating the Treaty of Versailles, including the hoped-for US entry into the newfound League of Nations. Wilson’s diligent diplomacy garnered him the Nobel Peace Prize—this being an era when the Peace Prize went to actual peacemakers.

And yes, US entry into the League, back in 1920, would have been helpful to world peace. If we had joined, we might have been able to come together with other member-countries to stop the rise of Hitler in the early 30s. But of course, we’ll never know for sure; the League remains one of the great “What ifs?” of history.

Unfortunately, for all his strengths overseas, Wilson was weak at home: In his personality, he was too stubborn and rigid—probably the result of illness, as we shall see—to pay adequate attention to domestic politics.

Thus while Wilson was trying to save the world, the Democratic Party went to the dogs. Six years into his presidency, by the 1918 midterm elections, the Democrats had lost a net of four Senate seats and 99 House seats, thereby losing control of both houses of Congress.

Fatefully, the new Republican majority was concerned about US entry into the League. GOP Senators, who would have to vote on ratification of the Versailles Treaty, wanted to make changes in the document to protect US sovereignty. But Wilson would have none of it: His response to Republican concerns was, take it or leave it.

Unwilling to negotiate with the Senate, Wilson tried a different strategy—going over their heads, to the American people; he launched a nationwide speaking tour, aimed at mobilizing public support for the Treaty.

Yet he failed. The Senate voted down the Treaty in early 1920. Wilson’s presidency was broken, as well as his personal health. And shattered, too, were the political fortunes of the Democrats; they were routed in the 1920 elections.

Thus in the first act of our historical pageant, the tragedy is Wilson.

And now to the second act, the farce: He-e-ere’s Obama!

As happened to Wilson a century ago, today, the Democrats, under Obama, have steadily lost ground in Congress. After two big midterm defeats, in 2010 and 2014, the Democrats have lost a net of 13 Senate seats and 69 House seats, losing their majorities in both chambers.

Surveying this partisan wreckage, one might say that the difference, at least, was that Wilson, in his first six years, found time to win a World War. But what can anyone say what Obama has accomplished?

So, stipulating that the issues at hand were different, we can start to see eerie parallels between the two Democratic presidents, one from the early 20th century, and one from the early 21st century.

As we have noted, after the 1918 midterms, Wilson journeyed to Paris for three months—three months in which he cut himself off from contact with the Republicans who now ruled Congress.

And in our own time, immediately after the ’14 midterms, Obama, too, felt strangely “liberated” from Congress. That is, if he couldn’t deal with subservient Democrats leading the Senate, well, then, he just wouldn’t deal with the Senate at all. As Breitbart noted back in December 2014,Obama was setting modern-day records for unilateral presidential action.

Yes, Obama had now become a free bird—and the MSM loved it. As The Los Angeles Times headlined back in January 2015, “With State of the Union, Obama sets agenda … for 2016 election.” Indeed, most reporters trilled their admiration for Obama’s unilateral efforts on immigration, climate change, releasing Guantanamo prisoners and maybe even closing Gitmo itself, and, of course, that Bloombergian obsession, regulating gun rights.

But there’s just one thing. As another astute observer here at Breitbart has foreseen, the Democrats are headed toward an epochal electoral disaster next year.

But of course, Obama might not realize how untenable his position has become. To illustrate this point in a comical way, we might recall the old “Roadrunner” cartoons. You know, the scenes where Wile E. Coyote, in his maniacal determination to catch the fast-moving bird, runs off a cliff and gets about 30 feet into thin air before he stops, looks down–and then plummets to earth.

That’s Obama. He hasn’t looked down yet, and so he’s still in mid-air, but the electorate’s gravity will catch up with him, just as it caught up with Wilson.

II. The Wilson Tragedy

Let’s digress and take a closer look at Thomas Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924), first elected to the White House in 1912. As only the second Democrat to win the presidency in more than half a century, the nation, bored with Republican presidents, had high hopes for this new figure. In his campaign, the always articulate former professor pledged a “New Freedom,” aimed at breaking the power of the trusts and the big banks.

To be sure, Wilson’s policies were controversial, then and now—Glenn Beck, to name one critic, ranks Wilson as the worst American president—but it’s undeniable that in his prime, he inspired the majority of Americans. As one biographer said of the “New Freedom,”

The new doctrine which he taught gave the humblest soldier in the trenches and the most untutored workman in the factories a new sense of purpose … a crusade for universal democracy.

Indeed, as for the most consequential event of his presidency, we can see that Wilson, at that time, had no real choice but to go to war against Germany in 1917.

Most historians agree that US entry into the war began with the sinking of the passenger liner Lusitania, torpedoed by a German U-boat off the south coast of Ireland in May 1915, killing 1198, including 128 Americans. In the uproar that followed, the Germans, fearful of provoking the US into war, agreed to cease their policy of “unrestricted” submarine warfare—that is, sinking any ship, armed or not, neutral or not, that came near its enemy, Great Britain. But that restrictive policy lasted only briefly; in February 1917, the Germans returned to “unrestrictive” submarine warfare. As a result, the US had little choice but to join the war against the Kaiser’s murderous international lawbreaking; if we hadn’t, the sacred principle of freedom of navigation on the high seas would have been forfeited, and American power would have been severely diminished. 

In addition, during this period, Germany waged a covert sabotage campaign against the US; most spectacularly, on July 30, 1916, German agents blew up a port facility in Jersey City, New Jersey. Interestingly, Wilson, always a patriot, did not react to this German sneak-attack by smearing his fellow Americans for alleged “bigotry.” (And yes, we are free, today, to think of parallels as we suffer through a new wave of domestic terror attacks.)

And so, on April 2, 1917, Wilson went before Congress to ask for a declaration of war against Germany. After laying out his case, he closed with this burst of ringing rhetoric:

It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts–for democracy . . . for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free. To such a task we can dedicate our lives and our fortunes, everything that we are and everything that we have, with the pride of those who know that the day has come when America is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured. God helping her, she can do no other.

The vote in the Senate, for Wilson’s declaration, was 82:6. And in the House, it was 373:50. 

As noted, Wilson was a better wordsmith than war leader. During the fighting in 1917 and 1918, the US, the country that had pioneered the mass-production of autos under Henry Ford, couldn’t produce a single tank ready for combat. Nor could we make a single war-worthy airplane.

Yet even so, the American doughboys fought well; on October 8, 1918, for example, Tennessee’s Sgt. Alvin York, single-handedly killed 20 of the enemy and captured another 132.

Thus after “only” 116,000 Americans were killed—the French lost 1.3 million, and the Germans lost even more—we prevailed. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the guns fell silent.

In December 1918, President Wilson set sail for the peace talks at the palace of Versailles, just outside of Paris. He would not return to the US until February, 1919.

Upon his return, dutiful to the Constitution, Wilson submitted the Versailles Treaty to the US Senate, now controlled by Republicans. It immediately became apparent that the new Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts, while supportive of the general outline of the Treaty, held strong objections to some particulars. Lodge’s list of “reservations,” as they were called, were reasonable, and with some artful wording, they could have been smoothed into the final agreement.

But Wilson would have none of it. The President’s view was that the Treaty, which had been painstakingly drafted by the “Big Four”—the US, Britain, France, and Italy—was sacrosanct. “We cannot re-write this Treaty,” he declared. Then he added, raising the stakes:

If the treaty is not ratified by the Senate, the war will have been fought in vain, and the world will be thrown into chaos. I promised our soldiers, when I asked them to take up arms, that it was a war to end wars.

We might pause over those last words, “a war to end wars.” The hope that the Great War—not yet known as World War One—would, in fact, end warmaking was in common circulation; the sentiment had originated with the British writer H.G. Wells. And if it sounds naive today, so many wars later, so be it. But at the time, many smart people hoped, and prayed, that it just might be true. It was that sort of idealism, however misplaced, that animated Wilson.

Thinking of the doughboys of the American Expeditionary Force, Wilson added, with stern determination, “If I do not do all in my power to put the Treaty in effect, I will be a slacker and never able to look those boys in the eye.”

Yet Wilson’s will was stronger than his body; his physical decline was becoming obvious. As one biographer chronicled, 

Years before the Peace Conference, a retinal hemorrhage had deprived him of the use of his right eye. The strain on his optical nerve, and that messenger of death, hardening of the arteries, explain the violent headaches which began to plague him again in Paris. People noticed that one side of his face twitched ominously.

Meanwhile, back home in the US, confronting a Senate that viewed him with suspicion, Wilson decided to barnstorm the country, hoping to pressure senators to change their mind. Told that his strenuous schedule might jeopardize his health, Wilson nevertheless bravely responded, “I don’t care if I die the next minute after the Treaty is ratified.”

In fact, on September 25, 1919, in Pueblo, Co., Wilson suffered a stroke. As one chronicler noted at the time:

His left arm and leg no longer function. His whole left side is paralyzed. But the indomitable Scotch-Presbyterian continues to argue. He wants to continue. 

Thus it could be said that Wilson gave his life for what he believed.

Not surprisingly, psychologists have joined with historians to analyze every feature of Wilson’s personality, as well as his presidency. As one writer put it,

All his life he had been afflicted with a mild Narcissus complex, desiring to see himself in everything, his views, his faith, the facts as he knew them.

And yet the facts as Wilson knew them were not the facts as seen by Lodge and the Republican majority in the Senate. Indeed, the ratification vote in the Senate, on March 19, 1920, wasn’t even close: Wilson needed a two-thirds vote for his treaty, but of the 84 votes cast, he could win only 35 “yeas.” The “nays” were 49. 

Like Wile E. Coyote, Wilson had come plummeting to ground.

But there was more: The country wasn’t done repudiating what it saw as Wilson’s serious mistakes. In the 1920 elections, the GOP gained a massive 63 House seats, ending up with 303 House seats in the 67th Congress that convened in January 1921. And in the Upper Chamber, the Party gained 10 Senate seats, to end up with 59 out of 96.

And oh yes, in the presidential election, the national GOP ticket carried 37 of 48 states, winning more than 60 percent of the popular vote, compared to just 34 percent for the Democrats. Indeed, Warren G. Harding’s percentage margin was the largest for any presidential candidate since James Madison in 1820—and it hasn’t been equalled since. 

Needless to say, Harding, our 29th President, had no interest in reviving his predecessor’s League of Nations Treaty.

III. The Farcical Obama

In 2013, Democratic strategist James Carville was moved to observe of the 44th President, “Obama’s problem, I think, is he’s a man in politics that doesn’t like politics.” 

Yes, that can be a problem for a president. 

As we have seen, Wilson traveled to Paris in 1918 and came back with the un-ratifiable League of Nations Treaty. In our time, Obama sent John Kerry to Paris—and just about every other European city with a fancy hotel—in pursuit of his nuclear deal with the Iranians. And then, to top off the neo-Wilsonian symbolism, just recently, Obama himself traveled to Paris for his “climate change” agreement. 

Thus we come to our second Democratic president with an academic mien, who also, late in his second term, became deeply enmeshed in unpopular diplomatic ventures. 

We can start with the Iran deal, which was so loathed that in September 2015, it lost by a 269 to 162 margin in the House, and by 58 to 42 in the Senate. And yet because Obama pulled the finagle of not calling it a “treaty,” Congress’ resounding “no” vote had no force, at least for so long as Obama is in office.

Since then, the news from Iran has gotten worse, not better. The Iranians are expanding their nuclear stockpile, throwing American journalists in jail on trumped-up charges—and, of course, they are heavily involved in Syria. Looking ahead, as new details about Iran’s past nuclear effort come trickling out, who doubts that the Iranian ayatollahs will commit more outrages? It is, after all, who they are.

In other words, Obama is way out there on Iran, isolated from not only Congress, but also the American people.

But wait, there’s more!

Once again, in defiance of the Republican Congress, Secretary of State John Kerry has reaffirmed, for the umpteenth time, his determination to negotiate a “final settlement” between the Israelis and Palestinians. In the pages of The Wall Street Journal, Kerry’s obstinate persistence wasmocked by veteran State Department Middle East hand Aaron David Miller:

Given the region-wide melt down-–Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen in varying forms of chaos and dysfunction; a rising Iran, and the threat from ISIS—it’s no longer credible to argue that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a priority or that it’s even possible now.

Miller, who has devoted his career to the State Department’s Israeli-Arab “peace process,” is more liberal than not. And he declared in the Journal that he was always willing to hold out the prospect of a genuine peace, someday. But then he added this warning to the administration—this is not the time:

[The administration] shouldn’t start believing its own talking points. The Middle East is on fire. And there are much more important things to do.

Yes, the Middle East is on fire. And speaking of fire, according to reports, it was environmental piety that kept us from bombing ISIS oil facilities, thereby destroying ISIS when we had the chance.

No wonder, then, that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Gen. Joseph Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have both said that the President was wrong when he declared that ISIS had been “contained.”

And now, Obama’s big new idea for the region has been to import some of its fire into the US, in the form of Syrian refugees.

Of course, Obama being Obama, he never fails to insult the people he needs to persuade—the American people. Speaking of the Syrians, he said late last month,

The idea that somehow they pose a more significant threat than all the tourists who pour into the United States every single day just doesn’t jibe with reality. So my expectation is after the initial spasm of rhetoric, the people will settle down, take a look at the facts, and we’ll be able to proceed.

As Fox News’ Todd Starnes noted, did Obama really mean to say, “spasm of rhetoric”? Is that how the President assesses his fellow Americans? That they operate by “spasm”? Well, evidently he did—after all, he said it.

More recently, as we absorb the latest outrage, the December 2 attack on a disability center in San Bernardino, which left 14 dead, we can fairly conclude this: The massacre, apparently perpetrated by Muslims drenched in murderous ideology—killers well known to officials at the Council for American Islamic Relations, often accused of being an Islamist front group—underscores the urgency of getting a grip on domestic dangers with an overseas origin.

Yet nothing—no atrocity, no new piece of information—moves the President off his pre-conceived preoccupations. 

Next on the Obama hit-parade comes the grand push to cement his “legacy”: an international agreement on “climate change.” Apparently no longer able to hear what he himself sounds like, Obama recently offered the thought that a climate deal in Paris would be a “powerful rebuke” to the terrorists. (Yes, one can just imagine the ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, quaking at the thought of such an agreement.) 

We might pause to note that just in the last year, two passenger jets have been blown out of the sky by terrorist attackers, the Russians have invaded Ukraine, and ISIS has committed mass murder—meting out especially cruel death sentences to gays, helping to create some some ten million refugees, and massacring Parisian nightclubbers. And here at home, Californians are massacred, too, by terrorists, even as the life-expectancy of economically-stressed middle-class Americans is going down. Finally, venerable US corporations, fleeing foolish overtaxation, are relocating overseas, further jeopardizing jobs and incomes here at home.

Yet still, with stunning obduracy, the President insists that the most important issue is “climate change.” The mind boggles.

The bad news, as Carly Fiorina puts it, is that the President is “delusional.”

The good news is that we won’t always have this delusional commander-in-chief. Yes, like Wilson long ago, the incumbent president, too, is looking distinctly Wile E. Coyote-ish. 

The signs of his looming fall are everywhere. As ABC News’s Jonathan Karl, reporting from Paris, had to admit on Monday night, the jihadi threat has “overshadowed” the issue of “climate change.”

Indeed, at his press conference from Paris on December 1, the President was visibly annoyed that all the questions were about ISIS, not “climate change.”

And all that was before the San Bernardino slaughter further eclipsed coverage of the President’s quixotic fight against carbon dioxide. Even the MSM had to admit that Americans being mass-murdered was bigger news than the multilateral battle against air molecules.

It would be one thing if the American people agreed with the President’s view of the urgency of “climate change.” If that were the case, then sharp critics, such as Breitbart’s James Delingpole—who recently wrote, “Twelve Reasons Why the Paris Climate Talks Are a Total Waste”—would be just voices crying in the wilderness.

Yet in fact, even after two decades of relentless elite pounding, the American people don’t care about “climate change”—or, as it used to be called before the earth started cooling, “global warming.”

According to an exhaustive look at the survey data, “climate change”ranks no better than eighth or ninth on the national agenda; according to the latest Fox poll, a grand total of three percent of Americans say it’s the top issue. And those few Americans should think to themselves that even if the worst of “climate change” predictions come true and the sea level rises by a foot or two over the next century, that’s a public-works challenge, not a calamity.

So what is one to make of the Obama administration’s determination—a determination shared by almost all Democrats—to make “climate change” the main issue? That is, the issue on which they will rise, or fall. 

Only this: The Green Left has created what might be called a dollhouse version of diplomacy; that is, everyone—20,000 attendees, from 200 countries—gets to come to Paris, many with private jets, all with limousines, so that they can sit around and fantasize about their precious issue. That is, they dream of ladling out $100 billion a year with an eye toward “de-carbonizing” the world economy in 50 years or so.

Of course, it’s all make-believe, but the attendees make themselves feel important by pretending it’s real. So Secretary of State Kerry, for example, can run around as if he’s the reincarnation of his great predecessors, Cordell Hull or George C. Marshall; he can dream that he is their equal today, building alliances to fight a foe just as menacing as Hitler or Stalin. And who knows? Perhaps Kerry really believes it.

However, the Republicans, now in control of Congress, believe otherwise.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was nothing if not blunt in a November 27 Washington Post op-ed, warning that the Senate could and would reject the product of the President’s Parisian jaunt:

It would obviously be irresponsible for an outgoing president to purport to sign the American people up to international commitments based on a domestic energy plan that is likely illegal, that half the states have sued to halt, that Congress has voted to reject and that his successor could do away with in a few months’ time.

But that’s just what President Obama is proposing to do at a U.N. climate conference in Paris starting Monday. The president’s international negotiating partners at that conference should proceed with caution before entering into an unattainable deal with this administration, because commitments the president makes there would rest on a house of cards of his own making.

But of course, Obama has his answer to McConnell. As The Washington Post reports, unlike Wilson back in 1919, Obama in 2015 will not send his agreement to Congress for any sort of ratification; indeed, the President takes the view that he already has all the power he needs to restrict CO2 :

Whatever agreement emerges from Paris, [President Obama] has no intention of submitting it to the Senate for ratification as a treaty. …It says the Clean Air Act and the United Nations Framework on Climate Change signed by former President George H.W. Bush already give Obama the authority he needs to carry out climate commitments. 

So Republicans in Congress are now in a desperate race, not only to save the economy from a Green shutdown, but also to save their institutional checks-and-balances power under Article One of the Constitution. The headline in Politico on December 2 speaks to the GOP’s assertiveness,“Congress rebukes climate rules as Obama returns from Paris.”

And so when the Obama administration tries to claim that commitments made in Paris are “legally binding,” it’s time to call in the lawyers and go to the courts. For the remaining 13 months of his presidency, litigators will have to hash out, in conjunction with Congress, what a renegade POTUS can, and cannot, do.

Fox News’ Charles Krauthammer got to the Wilsonian nub of the issue, hearkening back to the League of Nations fight, on the November 30 “Special Report”:

Because this president lives in a world of his … idealistic and deluded, undergraduate imagination. This is as if the League of Nations and the U.N. and everything in between hadn’t happened.”

He lives in a world where people get together—reasonable, educated, Harvard Law School-educated people from all over the world—and agree on futuristic designs that mean nothing, like the League of Nations, like the U.N. But we have learned something since then, he has learned nothing.

And then, of course, we will have elections.

IV. The Republican Mandate in 2017—the Two Dangers

So yes, the GOP is headed for a 1920-like sweep next year. 

Why? Because just 28 percent of Americans think the country is on the right track. And, according to the Pew Center, just 19 percent think that the federal government can be trusted—the lowest ever. The GOP, as the opposition, anti-government, anti-terror party, is superbly positioned to ride the voters’ concerns to yet greater victories.

Meanwhile, the Democrats, some of them so addled with atheism that they have mocked the idea of praying for the victims in San Bernardino, are poorly positioned to withstand the coming ballot-flood.

And we haven’t even gotten to the easy, “gimme” issues for the GOP, such as opposing co-ed bathrooms and standing up to #BlackLivesMatter-type protestors, on and off campus. Those issues, we can say, are just icing on the Republican cake. 

Even the mighty Hillary Clinton can’t stop what’s coming. Indeed, maybe she’s not so mighty: She has an underwater 44:51 percent favorability rating. 

Yes, the overwhelming issue next year will be “return to normalcy.” That was the GOP slogan in 1920, and even if the GOP uses a different slogan next year, the thought will be the same: Enough of crazy social- and national-security experiments.

And yet, as we close these notes, we can observe that Republicans, destined for even bigger majorities in the 115th Congress, could yet into one of two traps in 2017.

First, they could under-interpret their mandate.

Second, they could over-interpret their mandate.

Let’s look at the trap of under-interpretation first. That is, Republicans, elected with a mandate to undo Obama-ism, find themselves unable or unwilling to pull up his malignant work, root and branch.

Let’s cite a couple of examples, starting with the Syrian refugees. Already, the importation of unknown Syrians is becoming a morass of litigation, mobilization, and counter-mobilization, as concerned citizens confront taxpayer-funded NGOs.

Politico reports that the no-Syrian effort is already slowing down; its December 2 headline reads, “Momentum to bar Syrian refugees slows.” As the piece describes, important Republican lawmakers are already peeling off the effort.

To cite yet another example, the liberal NGO humanrightsfirst.org—stacked with Obama/Clinton alumni, various Kennedy family scions, and the usual retreads from the ACLU and other leftist sanctums—was still able to pull together, on December 1, a bipartisan “masterpiece.” It was an open letter calling for more Syrian refugees to come to the US; the missive began with the words, “We write to express our opposition to proposals that would effectively halt the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the United States following the terrorist attacks in Paris.” And among the 20 signatories are former Bush 43 national security adviser Stephen Hadley, former Bush 43 homeland security secretary Michael Chertoff, as well as former Republican secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Shultz.

We might observe, moreover, that the humanrightsfirst.org letter is just an opening salvo—one of many to come.

Thus the 45th President, whoever that might be, will come into office in 2017 and discover that the forces of the status quo—that is, open borders, and the US as the default haven for refugees—have sunk their tentacles deep.

Thanks to funding from George Soros and others of a similar ilk, it’s a safe bet that the next president will face a fusillade of incoming fire, like flak over Schweinfurt. Will the next POTUS have the grit and determination to complete the mission, despite the losses? Or will the next President give up? We shall see. 

And of course, the fight over undoing Obama’s “climate change” policy will be even fiercer. Come 2017, Republicans will face a farrago of MSM bias—that goes without saying. But in addition, the GOP will face all the wiles and tricks that the Left and the Democrats can muster, from senatorial filibusters to regulatory folderol to judicial pettifoggery to protestor guerrilla theater.

Yes, all this will happen so that obedient Democrats can report to their Green-billionaire paymasters that they are fighting the good fight to keep the oceans from rising a foot or two, maybe, somewhere in the unknowable future.

So as we can see, Republicans will be plenty busy, even before they get to a single positive thing on their agenda, from reforming our tax code to curing disease.

But if the GOP can’t do both at the same time—that is, walk the walk of repeal and chew the gum of positive action—then the Party could lose it all in 2018 and 2020. The public’s fear of the Democrats is plenty great today, but the public’s confidence in Republicans isn’t so great, either.

Fortunately, the GOP has good grounds for optimism: its own success in the past. As we have seen, the Republicans of the post-Wilson era—President Harding and the GOPers who led the 67th Congress—were wise enough not to seek the revival of the League of Nations.

In addition, in that same 67th Congress, the GOP enacted restrictions on immigration, as well asnew trade laws. In other words, back then, Republicans not only kept their promises, but also expanded their agenda.

Indeed, public confidence in the GOP was so great that the Party flourished even after the death of President Harding and the Teapot Dome scandal of 1923. Republicans went on to win the White House in second- and third-consecutive landslides in the 1924 and 1928 presidential elections. In other words, the GOP was doing something right. So, as Republicans look back at their own history, they might be inspired to say, Yes we can!

The second trap in which Republicans might stumble into is over-interpretation. Again, we can cite two possible examples.

First, yes, it is true that just 19 percent of Americans trust the federal government, according to Pew. But in that same poll, we might examine some of the other numbers, which register, for example, strong public support for building infrastructure, setting workplace standards, protecting senior incomes, and even “ensuring access to healthcare”—all percentages of 61 percent or more.

Yes, the American people are deeply angry at the status quo, and yes, they want real reform, but they are not so angry that they want to be “reformed” out of a decent life for themselves or for their families. So in the heady years to come, Republicans will have to be careful about playing to their own most extreme ideological predilections.

Now to the second possible trap: Hillary Clinton waved a potentially powerful flag when she warned, No big commitment of ground troops in Iraq or Syria.

And while almost certainly, Clinton will be just a twice-failed presidential candidate as of 2017, when a new Republican president is inaugurated, her voice will probably not be silent. And neither will the voices of the many Democratic doves.

So yes, as I have argued here at Breitbart, ISIS must be destroyed.

But it must be destroyed in a way that doesn’t then lead us into the quagmire of attempted “nation-building”and “democracy-fostering.” Republicans made that mistake not so long ago, during the presidency of George W. Bush.

For a country that savors normalcy, it wasn’t “normal” for George W. Bush to declare in 2005, in his own exercise in latter-day Wilsonianism, that America must forever fight to make the world free. As Bush put in his second inaugural,

The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

The voters, of course, did not agree with such globe-girdling grandiosity, and so they removed Republicans from power in Congress in 2006 and then from the White House in 2008. It’s one thing to kill terrorists—Americans are all for that—but it’s quite another to declare that everyone, everywhere in the world, is a future freedom-loving American.

So yes, after our big win next year, Republicans must not under-interpret, and they must not over-interpret. They must learn to get it just right. 

And a long look back at the failures—both tragical and farcical—of the past will help us learn a lot.

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