Not since Nixon
BY THOMAS M. DeFRANK
DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF
WASHINGTON – Not since Watergate, when GOP congressional leaders told Richard Nixon they would vote him from office if he didn’t resign, have Capitol Hill Republicans challenged their President like this.
# Self-preservation. Bush has run his last race, but the midterm elections are less than eight months away, and Republicans are jittery about their prospects. Distancing themselves from a polarizing President whose job approval rating hits 40% on a good day is shrewd electoral positioning.
# Payback time. Republicans have seethed for years over what they consider insulting and arrogant treatment at the hands of Bush’s lieutenants.
"Their idea of consultation is to tell us as little as possible and demand our blind support," a GOP House source complained.
Or as Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia, a House GOP power, told The Washington Post: "This is probably the worst administration ever in getting Congress’ opinion on anything."
# Grass-roots groundswell. Even Republicans opposed to the deal on the merits were stunned by the negative fury it generated in the heartland.
"This is the heaviest volume that isn’t organized I can ever remember on an issue," a top congressional Republican told the Daily News. "People get it, and they don’t like it." In an election year, pols are especially loath to ignore voter sentiment back home.
But having stiffed their President and lived to tell the tale, the mutineers have likely been emboldened to stray again.
This is a baby step in terms of Congress taking its oversight role seriously.
But with Gale Norton resigning today and the ongoing scandal around Karl Rove, this could soon be a lot more like Nixon than anyone imagined just last year.
Has the Bush Administration gotten a break since the begining of the year? No?
But the problem is that no matter how bad things are in Washington, Iraq looms over Bush in a way that he cannot handle. We are facing civil war and disaster. And while the US thinks they can hide and let them fight it out, the first target of an enraged populace will be the foreign invader.