Second, take a clear position on immigration reform. “Comprehensive” or piecemeal matters not. What matters is to stick to the essential principle: legalization in return for real border control — so that this is the last amnesty we will have to grant.
Any law containing both deserves support. The current Senate bill does not. Setting soft goals for border enforcement is an invitation to this and future administrations to fudge and fake.
Be clear. Be principled. Be unafraid. The country wants legalization and border control. Show that only the GOP is fighting for both.
Third, on the policy front, demand from the president a clear policy on Afghanistan. After highly acrimonious exchanges with President Hamid Karzai, Obama is openly considering a complete pullout next year.
U.S. national interests cannot hinge on personal piques. Karzai is both deeply unreliable and terminally ungrateful. But he will be gone one day, as will Obama. The terrorist breeding grounds of Afghanistan and Pakistan will remain.
For four years, the president argued that our strategic interests require a residual presence in Afghanistan in order to prevent a re-establishment of terrorist safe havens in the region.
Does he still believe this? Enough with the agonized ambivalence. Obama must be made to argue the case one way or the other.
It's a modest agenda, although true tax reform would be an achievement of historic dimensions. But it should by no means diminish rigorous GOP efforts to stop an Obama program that aggrandizes government in every sphere (education, health care, energy, finance) and passes monstrous thousand-page bills that not only effectively delegate unlimited power to the unelected bureaucracy but, like Obamacare, are so unworkable that the administration itself has to jettison one piece after another, leaving only a mess of flotsam.
Stop the flotsam, reform the tax code, secure the border, demand clarity on Afghanistan. A modest, doable, responsible agenda for 2013.
Charles Krauthammer's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
WASHINGTON POST WRITERS GROUP