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American Opinion: Is the GOP blowing its 2022 opportunity?

From the editorial: So what should the GOP do? ... It is painfully obvious. Job one is to send Trump packing in some face-saving but determinative way and get behind dignified alternatives.

President Joe Biden arrives to sign the Instruments of Ratification for the NATO Accession Protocols for Finland and Sweden on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in the East Room at the White House in Washington, D.C.
President Joe Biden arrives to sign the Instruments of Ratification for the NATO Accession Protocols for Finland and Sweden on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in the East Room at the White House in Washington, D.C.
Yuri Gripas / Abaca Press / TNS
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Just a few short months ago, the Democratic Party was facing disaster.

American Opinion
American Opinion
Tribune graphic / Forum News Service
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The truth about the lie fits perfectly with last week’s Jan. 6 hearing, which exposed that Trump’s plan all along was to urge the ginned-up, lied-to mob to train their ire, and their fire, on the U.S. Capitol.

With gas soaring past $5 a gallon in Illinois, the market collapse giving 401(k)s a painful 2022 haircut, fraught parents up in arms over lingering school closures, and inflation cleaning out wallets and purses at grocery stores, nonpartisan analysts were predicting a midterm rout and a big gain for the Republican Party.

Even just last month, President Joe Biden’s approval rating fell below 40% and a Gallup poll found that a whopping 45% of Americans “strongly disapprove” of his performance.

But even as many head to the beach, literally and metaphorically, the winds of change are blowing.

As Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report noted last week, the conventional political indicators, such as Biden’s dismal approval rating and widespread dismay over the state of the economy, still point to big trouble ahead for the Democrats. But several factors, many unexpected, have contributed to a strikingly sudden recovery of Democratic fortunes.

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First came an assist from the Supreme Court, which overturned its long-settled Roe v. Wade precedent, angering many independent women voters, as reflected in the thumping Kansas defeat for a constitutional amendment to ban abortion. Plenty of women are seething in Indiana too, where the Republicans should have been smart enough to leave their laws well enough alone.

The Supreme Court’s actions, and well-stoked fears of what might be to come in those extremist chambers, have re-energized the Democratic base.

Then we had the drip, drip of the Jan. 6 hearings (Republicans having made a mistake when they chose not to participate and thus lost any control of the narrative).

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In recent days, we have also been treated to the squalid circumstances of the search of Mar-a-Lago , Donald Trump’s pathetic huffing and puffing, photos of the people’s business swirling inside toilet bowls and other indignities in the national discourse. Add in a number of primaries where the GOP inflicted a lot of friendly fire on itself ( aided by sleazy Democrats helping pay for the artillery ) and you can see why the tide has turned.

The market has even started cooperating, rising in recent days. Gas prices, which command a public profile beyond their import, are falling and there even is a sense now that inflation is on its way back down with a recession potentially averted.

So what should the GOP do?

It is painfully obvious. Job one is to send Trump packing in some face-saving but determinative way and get behind dignified alternatives. Job two is to convince independent voters that Republicans are capable of consistently adult behavior, that the party respects the settled laws of the land and follows the procedures that safeguard democracy. And job three? The road to electoral success clearly lies in keeping the focus on education and the economy, their effects on blue-collar families, and on Biden’s palpable limitations.

That, of course, is why so many left-leaning journalists have written various versions of “don’t run again, Joe” in recent days: The most recent tactic is to herald the president’s recent legislative successes and persuade Biden’s camp that their legacy is best preserved by a timely exit. Like, right now.

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Biden, of course, is right to ignore all of those calls and avoid turning himself into a lame duck. He has plenty of time to make that decision, even if it’s clear that the races down the ticket are currently in better shape for the Democrats than the one at the top.

And the GOP? Opportunities will present themselves this fall if maturity prevails.

This American Opinion editorial is the view of the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board.

©2022 Chicago Tribune. Visit at chicagotribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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