The GOP At War With Itself — Honestly? Or As An Election Maneuver?
There have been any number of signs of internecine warfare among factions within the GOP over the last couple of years. The Bush Administration — specifically the Cheney/neo-con faction — has pushed the libertarians, the strict constructionists, the more moderate financial conservatives, out of the party, bit by bit. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard from disenchanted conservatives who say "the party has left me," shaking their head at the extremist positions and the disengenuous fact-free arguments made to serve the agenda and the immediate need for strengthening a hold on short-term power, rather than the long-term interests of the party as a whole.
And it seems that it isn’t just the rank and file who are disgusted by the lack of continuity between public pronouncements of ethical positions, and private actions that thwart those very ethics…time and time again. Hypocrisy catches up eventually, and the Bush Administration has been shovelling the malarky pretty thick since day one.
And now the bill appears to be coming due — less than two months before the November elections.
Joe Scarborough has a column in the WaPo that succinctly sums up the internal debate that I have been hearings bits and pieces of from disenchanted conservatives:
I can’t help but feel sorry for my old Republican friends in Congress who are fighting for their political lives. After all, it must be tough explaining to voters at their local Baptist church’s Keep Congress Conservative Day that it was their party that took a $155 billion surplus and turned it into a record-setting $400 billion deficit.
How exactly does one convince the teeming masses that Republicans deserve to stay in power despite botching a war, doubling the national debt, keeping company with Jack Abramoff, fumbling the response to Hurricane Katrina, expanding the government at record rates, raising cronyism to an art form, playing poker with Duke Cunningham, isolating America and repeatedly electing Tom DeLay as their House majority leader?…
But that kind of give-and-take between presidents and members of Congress ended once Clinton retired to Chappaqua. For the next five years, Republicans on the Hill would do little more than rubber-stamp Bush’s domestic and international agenda because lawmakers were intimidated by his power and his popularity with the Republican base.
Even when the administration would not give generals the troops they needed to win the war in Iraq, Republican leaders did nothing. When the president refused to veto a single spending bill while the deficit spiraled upward, Republican leaders looked away. And when chaos was reigning in the streets of New Orleans and across the Gulf Coast in Katrina’s horrific aftermath, Republican leaders remained mute.
That silence — proof that it is better to be feared than loved in politics — has had devastating results. The United States is more divided than ever, our leaders are despised around the world, our fiscal situation is catastrophic and congressional approval ratings are the lowest ever. Since nothing sharpens the mind like a political hanging, Republican leaders in the Senate and House are finally considering doing what effete newspaper editorialists have suggested for years: throwing Bush overboard.
Of course, the mere suggestion makes some Republican loyalists shudder. Being a faithful follower of Brother Bush has long been synonymous with loving Jesus, supporting the troops and taking a stand against sodomy. But no more. Many of the conservatives who put Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich in power are counting the days until Bush goes to Crawford for good….
So, let me get this straight: according to Joe Scarborough, and honestly according to the grumbling that I have been hearing for years from disgusted Republicans, President Bush is a failure who sucks at his job.
But Republicans in Congress, who have known this for years, haven’t bothered to call him on it for the good of the American public because they were too afraid of the personal consequences to themselves politically to do so for the good of the American public? Is that about it? And that includes sending brave men and women off to an ill-planned occupation in Iraq and a failure to finish the job in Afghanistan because…what?!?…they feared that the Bush Administration would call them names in public.
Is it me, or is the Republican party run by a bunch of eighth grade student council wannabes?
Sure, George Bush has been a horrible President. But true character means that you stand up for what is right in the face of overwhelming obstacles because it is the right thing to do…not just because you now fear for your political hide and the President provides a convenient target. That’s crass opportunism, not ethical responsibility, and ought to be labeled as such.
Washington Monthly provides a plethora of arguments from conservatives of various stripes on why the Republican party does not deserve to maintain power after the November elections. It is interesting to read through all of the arguments in all of the articles therein, based on various and sundry conservative "principles" that seem newly rediscovered as an tactical maneuver for an election season attempt at framing the high ground for some of the writers. But there is a tinge of disgust and regret and, in a few cases, anger that their long-voiced warnings were not heeded for the good of the party way back when it might have actually done some good. (Bruce Fein’s article is a particularly good read, I think.)
If ever there were a need for standing up as one, with a strong voice, it would be with regard to the Bush Administration’s and the Republican Congress’ utter disregard over the last few years for the importance of the rule of law, the separation of powers, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
You need look no further for an example of that idiocy that John Yoo’s flatulant, self-serving, attempt at reputation enhancement op-ed in today’s New York Times for a hollow attempt at after-the-fact justification of poorly reasoned propping up of legalistic maneuvers without foundation. Pathetic. And supremely transparent. How a professor of Constitutional law can put forth arguments based on such flawed and nonexistent precedents is beyond me — the intellectual maneuvers required to be this dishonest with oneself…well, let’s just say that Cirque du Soleil might want to add a new act.
Dick Cheney and David Addington and Scooter Libby’s obsession with creating a unilateral executive is showing — again — and no one can even bother to ask at this point whether Republicans will stand up for the Constitution in the face of such a vast imperial power grab for the Presidency, can they? I mean, honestly, they haven’t up until now, why should any of them be trusted with that responsibility any longer?
Do you trust anyone in the GOP to keep America’s interests first and foremost ahead of their own grab at power no matter the cost? After the last five plus years, honestly, how could you — because their actions speak volumes, where their copious words ring hollow time and time again.
If the GOP wants to blame someone for all of the failures of the past few years, they need only look in their mirrors. Glenn has an update on the Specter bill on FISA, and how the Senator is lying — again — about the implications of its potential passage for all of America.
A whole lot of people in America do not trust George Bush. Moreover, they don’t trust all of his many enablers in the GOP to provide any real means of check or balance to the excesses of the Bush White House. And why should they?
Ultimately, it’s all of the lies — both the ones to the public and the ones to themselves — for which the entire GOP ought to be held to account. And none of those can be explained away by blaming George Bush. There is a bill that is coming due in November. Here’s hoping that the GOP gets stuck with the entire check…they ran up the tab all by themselves in control of both Houses of Congress and the White House. The GOP ought to be the ones who pay for it.
(Graphics love to Draw!)
UPDATE: C&L has a clip of Scarborough explaining why he thinks conservatives are revolting.