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What Republicans Can Learn From Phil Mickelson

Did you watch the final round of the Masters yesterday? It started out looking to be one of the most exciting in history with two past winners and five of the world's top golfers on the leaderboard. But slowly over the course of the day all the players vying to challenge Phil Mickelson fell victim to mistakes; poor shot execution, bad course management, lack of focus around the greens. In particular, Tiger Woods, Fred Couples, and Vijay Singh all putted themselves right out of contention. Mickelson won because he made the fewest mistakes, in fact he made hardly any mistakes at all shooting a final round 69 and winning by two strokes. By about the 16th hole there was hardly any suspense left in the tournament.

There's a lesson here for Republicans: execution matters. Right now, Republicans in Congress are compounding an already unfavorable election year atmosphere with a series of executional mistakes. John McIntyre points out the mess they've made trying to muddle through immigration reform, and John Fund notes they've equally bungled the budget and tax cuts. All three issues are vital to the GOP's core constituency. That doesn't mean they're easy to handle - especially an issue as complex as immigration - but that they do need to be handled with care. So far Republicans have done a poor job of executing on these issues to the benefit of the party.

Anyone who plays golf has heard the phrase, "drive for show but putt for dough." In other words, it doesn't matter how far you can hit the ball down the fairway, if you can't properly execute the task of putting the ball into the hole you're going to lose every time. In golf that means you'll end up losing money. In politics it means you'll end up losing elections.