First, Republicans have to realize that this is about as big a defeat as can be expected in the House, given modern redistricting technology. There should be no solace taken in the fact that the result was pretty close to the average six-year-itch election.
Second, Republicans in the House need to recognize that they need new faces if they’re to recover some (or all) of the ground they lost last night. And not just new faces. As the resident "compassionate conservative" in these parts, I recognized the risk that GWB was taking in trying to move his party in that direction. House Republicans basically took his willingness to expand government in the short term as an excuse to engage in pork barrel politics. The result was an uninspiring performance that all too easily could be characterized as corrupt "business as usual." Republicans have to relearn and remake the argument for personal responsibility and small government.
Third, President Bush has to serve the ball into the Democrats’ court on Iraq. We cannot, and he will not, "cut and run." Democrats now share responsibility for the future of that country. If they’re not willing to engage in responsible bipartisan deliberation on how to win in Iraq, they deserve to be cast back into the political wilderness.
Fourth, President Bush should vigorously resist any Democratic attempt to hamstring our efforts at fighting terrorism. Here’s a place where he can successfully wield, if need be, the veto pen, and win political points in doing so. This election can’t be read as a mandate for scaling back our surveillance efforts.
Fifth, should there be any high profile judicial nominations, President Bush shouldn’t under any circumstances put forward anyone other than a principled conservative. No Souters, Kennedys, or Mierses. Make the Democrats stand up to or embrace the extremist interest groups that are most vocal about judicial nominations.
Sixth, President Bush and Congressional Republicans should embrace the Democrats for Life abortion reduction bill. So long as they cede no ground in the moral condemnation of abortion, this bill is good for both policy and political reasons. Most importantly, it will compel the Democratic majority (see, I can write those words) to choose between a practical means of reducing the frequency of abortions and toeing the Planned Parenthood line.