Party Woes in the News…GOP, That Is
The Washington Post has it’s usual "party in disarray" article out this morning — but this time, for a twist, they are talking Republicans instead of Democrats. A lot of this is simply public posturing in an attempt to distance the party brand from the failures of the Bush Administration — with the mid-terms in 2006 fast approaching and thoughts of 2008 beginning to loom large as well, no one wants President Bush hanging around their neck like an albatross. So there are quotes from Texas governor Rick Perry calling the folks in Washington unprincipled, and the folks in Washington shooting back that they have been struggling…oh, woe is them…to get the White House in line. And but for that whole Rubber Stamp Republican label that is long-earned, perhaps that might be an effective political hack statement. But all those pesky votes along party lines, all those Republican party leadership statements dripping of GOP talking points, all those times when principle took a back seat to keeping the KStreet donor crowd and the White House happy…well, it has a way of coming back to haunt you, doesn’t it?
It’s a bit late in the game to try to look tough, when all along the Republican Party leadership has been too weak to stand on principle against the Bush White House. Here’s where things get a bit amusing. Apparently, this is the best they can do in terms of a mid-term political strategy:
Because of these realities, Republicans have adopted a midterm strategy designed to avoid making the election a national referendum on their performance or one that focuses on their policy divisions. Their goal is to concentrate less on the kind of positive message they have challenged the Democrats to produce and more on framing a choice that says, however unhappy voters may be right now with the Republicans’ leadership, things would be worse if Democrats were in charge.
So, let’s get this straight, shall we. The Republican theme for the mid-term elections is "Yeah, we suck. But you won’t like the Democrats either. Trust us." Did they pay someone for this — I mean seriously — because that is just plain awful. By all means, go with "Republicans: we really suck at governing." Please. We all need more laughter in our lives. Frankly, I’m thinking a t-shirt with Ken Mehlman’s face and those words coming out of his mouth might be a big seller at all the chamber of commerce meetings across the nation, given the level of grumbling I’m hearing from the fiscal conservatives that I know, over the deficit, the impending housing bust, and the price of oil. Yep, we’ve raised the debt ceiling again…this time to $9 Trillion. In just five short years. Heckuva job, Bushie. Speaking of Mehlman, given how many times we’ve had to raise the debt ceiling over the last five years and the increasing rate of pork expenditures in the bills proposed and passed by this Republican-controlled Congress, can someone explain to me how he can keep tap dancing to that "lower your taxes and cut the deficit in five years" malarky? Shouldn’t someone start to ask him how even a ten year old with basic math skills knows this is a lie? The most intriguing bit in this article, though, wasn’t the pathetic slogan or the whining of Washington GOP insiders or even the finger pointing. It was the on-the-record quotes from Roy Blunt that grabbed my attention. Is it me, or is there still an open wound from someone losing that House Majority leader position?
Republicans are engaged in a face-off in Congress over two sharply different views of how to deal with illegal immigration — with no compromise in sight. The split between the White House and congressional Republicans over the Dubai port deal underscores cracks in the party’s national security consensus and has given Democrats an opening to challenge the GOP on what has long been a core strength. Republicans do remain united behind Bush’s Iraq policy, albeit nervously, with widespread concern that a violent and open-ended commitment in that nation will be a liability in November. The president once clearly set the Republican agenda, and when his approval ratings were higher, congressional Republicans followed his lead. House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said that model hit a wall last year when the president’s centerpiece proposal to restructure Social Security "turned out to be not doable." This year, Bush came back to Congress with a scaled-back agenda — including tax incentives to expand health coverage and some money to study using wood chips and switch grass as alternative energy sources — that Blunt said "is not as easily defined." And in Bush’s weakened state, his proposals command less allegiance. "It’s always the challenge of a second-term administration to keep the agenda fresh, to keep moving with the same intensity they had in the first term," Blunt said. "Combine that with less popularity, and people are much slower to salute the flag."
You hear that, Karl? Blunt and his money-loyal crony posse aren’t so willing to salute the Bush Administration now that you didn’t go to the mat for their leader. Somehow, I have a feeling that this has more to do with the current Republican disarray in the House than anything else. And the question that comes to my mind is: what is the Bush Administration willing to do — how far will they be willing to go — to buy Blunt’s loyalty back? I’d be watching all those Missouri earmarks in the near future if I were an enterprising young journalist. Because you may just be handed one plum story with a little persistence. Et tu, Blunt? You bet your KStreet booty.