Newburyport Daily News
---- — Big Freddy was sitting with his eyes closed and his head thrown back when I arrived, and I tried to get into my side of the booth without waking him when he said, “I wasn’t asleep, I was cogitating.”
“Whatever it was, you looked deader than the Republican Party hereabouts,” I said. “Brown has tossed in the towel, the wannabees are bravely trying to pick up the pieces, and Democrats rule the roost just about everywhere.”
“Republicans are down, but not out,” Freddy said. “Let the revolution begin.”
“Revolution? What revolution?” I asked.
“The counter-revolution by the party out of power when the party in power goes too far in one direction too long and the air goes out of their balloon,” Freddy said.
“Well, the air doesn’t seem to be going out of this balloon,” I said. “Employment figures are going up — not sensationally — but going up, and there’s some evidence Republicans in the House are shifting gears toward the center.
“They lost some house seats in November, but they’re still the majority and if they want to hold onto it they’ll have to something beside playing hard nose for two years,” Freddy said.
“Just two?” I asked.
“Two-term presidents begin to lose traction in the second half of their second term,” Freddy said. “That usually benefits the party out of power.”
“Not always,” I said.
“Not always, but enough — especially now because we’re pretty close to running on empty. Obama’s beginning to slice and dice the military with cutbacks and layoffs. Employment is beginning to pick up, but it’s hardly making a dent in too many parts of the country.
“But he won this race going away,” I said. “It was very impressive.”
“That it was,” Freddy said. “But that’s over with. Done. His old staff is gone. Enter the second teamers. Two-term presidents do that. They ride high, wide and handsome with their first term picks like Geitner and company. They leave, and Obama appoints the second stringers to help with the mop-up.”
“Second stringers?” I asked.
“Those without the flash and dash of the first stringers,” Freddy said. “Hillary as secretary of state for the first term. John Kerry for the second. Chuck Hagle for Defense. New faces playing cleanup.”
“But how does any of that play into the Republicans’ hands?” I asked.
“The bloom almost always goes off the rose in the second term,” Freddy said. “That doesn’t always mean the party out of power gets a boost up for the next election. But it’s what’s left behind by the outgoing president that shapes the next campaign.
“As long as times are good, parties in power keep on partying. It really doesn’t look like there’s going to be a lot of partying ahead.”
Bill Plante is a Newbury resident and staff columnist. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.