5. Keep a smile on your face. Some of the greatest icons of the conservative movement—Ronald Reagan, William F. Buckley, and Jack Kemp—often made their best case using humor. That has a lot to do with why they were never considered "mean," "haters," or "out of touch." How about an appearance with the star of "Dirty Jobs," Mike Rowe, who campaigned with Mitt Romney, saying Republicans waded into the fiscal mess when others would not; or perhaps an ad from the CEO of FedEx saying "I know a lot about delivery, and these guys are delivering." The White House is planning a full-on public campaign to build support for its position. Republicans would be smart to do the same with upbeat optimism and a light touch.
With any luck, we'll be going through this only once. Let Democrats propose extending the fiscal negotiations into next year, allowing "down payments" on future spending cuts, and enacting token reforms. Republicans should see this for the golden opportunity it is: Americans want leaders who will do it right the first time, remove the uncertainty, and get the economy moving again. Time to deliver.