12.01.08

Why Republicans Are Gushing About Obama

The GOP is wishing him success because there's a good chance that if he fails, we all go down together.

I counted myself among the hopelessly naïve and ruthlessly optimistic for thinking that the spirit of goodwill would extend much longer than a week or two before partisans began reflexively criticizing President-elect Obama for waking up in the morning.

But, egad. Something conventional-wisdom-shattering is afoot. Karl Rove is praising Obama’s economic team: “[The] announcement of Mr. Obama's economic team was reassuring. He's generally surrounded himself with intelligent, mainstream advisers. Investors, workers and business owners can only hope that, over time, this new administration's economic policies bear more of their market-oriented imprint.”

George W. Bush said he wanted to change the tone in Washington. It simply wasn't the right time for the message or the messenger.

Republicans, including former Navy Secretary and Armed Services Chairman, Senator John Warner, are hailing Obama’s national security team: “The triumvirate of Gates, Clinton and Jones to lead Obama's national security team instills great confidence at home and abroad, and further strengthens the growing respect for the president-elect's courage and ability to exercise sound judgment in selecting the best and the brightest to implement our nation's security policies.”

GOP war horses like Henry Kissinger are falling all over themselves to praise the notion of Hillary as Madam Secretary of State: “I believe it would be an outstanding appointment...it shows a number of things, including great courage on the part of the president-elect. To appoint a very strong personality into a prominent cabinet position requires a great deal of courage.”

Even Republican presidential candidate heir apparents like Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal are joining in the lovefest: "I think the American people are tired of campaigns and politics," Jindal said. "We need to get behind our new president and our new Congress, support them, and stop being Democrats and Republicans."

It appears the political classes have briefly sobered up and decided to act responsibly, selflessly and -- dare we say it -- in the best interest of the country. The times are simply so serious, so dangerous, so calamitous that we can’t afford politics as usual. And for once, politicians seem to get it. We all wish President-elect Obama success. Because there’s a good chance that if he fails, we all go down together. Way down.

And let's give credit where it's due. The spirit of good will is being significantly leveraged by Obama, who has had made a series of very smart, practical, pragmatic and non-ideological picks for his cabinet.

Eight years ago, George W. Bush said he wanted to change the tone in Washington. Well, a recount crippled that idea before it got out of the crib. It simply wasn't the right time for the message or the messenger.

Now, we may finally have the right confluence of events and the right man to leech the poison from the partisan well in Washington.

I know the law of political physics and the thirst for political power will reemerge at some point in the not too distant future, and partisans will again unsheathe their pointed swords and call for the head of President Obama. And soon enough, legitimate policy differences will divide the parties. But in the meantime, isn’t it refreshing that for a brief moment in our history, we all came together as one people, one America, and supported our President?

Enjoy it while it lasts.

RELATED: Peter Beinart on Why Obama Was Right About Hillary.

As vice chairman of Public Strategies and president of Maverick Media, Mark McKinnon has helped meet strategic challenges for candidates, causes, and individuals, including George W. Bush, John McCain, Charlie Wilson, Lance Armstrong, and Bono. McKinnon is co-chair of Arts & Labs, a collaboration between technology and creative communities that have embraced today’s rich internet environment to deliver innovative and creative digital products to consumers.