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Beltway Confidential

Pass the catsup, please

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Beltway Confidential,Mark Tapscott

Would somebody please pass the catsup? This crow is awfully dry.

Yes, I am eating crow. I predicted a 53-47 Romney win. I was wrong, chiefly because, I think, the pollsters were, contrary to my pre-election conviction, using the right turnout models.

So President Obama eked out a narrow, but clear victory. We are a 50-50 nation. We are deadlocked. The 2012 election settled nothing.

So what now? Allow me four observations:

First, my pre-election column asking "what if the wrong guy wins" is appropo this morning, especially to Obama. That column quoted Danielle Brian of the Project on Government Oversight, saying "it is the job of whoever is elected to include and engage the minority, but it is also incumbent on those whose candidate won to be gracious, and to reach out an olive branch."

Danielle got it exactly right. In a deadlocked 50-50 nation, reaching out and being willing to compromise does not mean the victors get everything they want. Doesn't mean the losers lose everything, either. It means both sides have to give up something concrete in order to gain something else concrete. Otherwise, deadlock continues and the nation suffers.

Second, as if Bush's swift-boating of John Kerry wasn't sufficient proof that negative campaign advertising works, Obama's Baining of Romney should remove all doubt. Politics ain't beanbag. Romney lost the election during the summer months by ignoring Obama's blitz of negative ads that defined the GOP nominee as an out-of-touch rich guy who would take us back to the Bush policies that got us in trouble in 2008.

Which brings us to the third observation, which is that narrative counts. The housing crisis that produced the Great Recession of 2008 could have been avoided or mitigated had Bush and the Republican Congress ignored Barney Frank and reformed Fannie and Freddie. That opened the way for Democrats and their mainstream media allies to pin the blame for the economic collapse on Bush. Exit polls make clear the continuing power in 2012 of that Obama claim.

That means the House GOP better take full advantage of its oversight powers to document Big Government failures, which will become more manifest in the next two years as Obama strangles the economy with the regulatory bombs about to go off at EPA and HHS. It also puts a premium on fact-driven investigative reporting, which will find an even target-richer environment in the months ahead.

Finally, the GOP winners Tuesday night were Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL, and Sen.-elect Ted Cruz, R-TX. They speak conservative truths in language this nation's growing Hispanic population clearly understand and enthusiastically support. Winning requires expanding the coalition with new recruits. Rubio and Cruz have shown the way. Now it's up to the GOP powers-that-be to decide if they will follow or become extinct.

Now, as I was saying, could somebody please pass the catsup?

Mark Tapscott is executive editor of The Washington Examiner.

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Mark Tapscott

Executive Editor
The Washington Examiner