Republican incumbents in close races have the easiest vote of their lives coming up this week: No on the Bush-Pelosi Wall Street bailout.
God Himself couldn't have given rank-and-file Republicans a better opportunity to create political space between themselves and the Administration. That's why I want to see 40 Republican No votes in the Senate, and 150+ in the House. If a bailout is to pass, let it be with Democratic votes. Let this be the political establishment (Bush Republicans in the White House + Democrats in Congress) saddling the taxpayers with hundreds of billions in debt (more than the Iraq War, conjured up in a single weekend, and enabled by Pelosi, btw), while principled Republicans say "No" and go to the country with a stinging indictment of the majority in Congress.
This creates pressure on the "change" message. If this issue is made controversial, and Obama is not the first to make it an issue, how exactly is a Washington deal backed by Bush's Treasury Secretary "change?"
But for this to be actionable, it has to be controversial. So this can't be a few lonely voices like Coburn and DeMint. It needs to be the bulk of the Republican conference. In an ideal world, McCain opposes this because of all the Democratic add-ons and shows up to vote Nay while Obama punts.
History has shown us that "inevitable" "emergency" legislation like the Patriot Act or Sarbanes-Oxley is never more popular than on the day it is passed -- and this isn't all that popular to begin with. All the upside comes with voting against it.
A bailout may be inevitable, but so to can be the political benefit for Congressional Republicans if played correctly.