Poor George Bush
Bill Long 10/23/06
Two Weeks Before the Midterm Elections
It was definitely not supposed to turn out this way for the Republicans. Indeed, in 2005, when plans for the 2006 Midterm elections were being finalized by the Republican leadership, they were really set to have all their ducks in a row to win an unprecedented second straight Midterm election (2002 was considered by some to be a fluke, because of 9/11, but the Republicans picked up seats in that election). And there was a very impressive series of ducks in a row. They had plans to be on top of: (1) Iraq; (2) The Economy; and (3) Terrorism. And I mean, they intended not simply to be talking equally to the Democrats on these issues, but unquestionably to have the upper hand.
Here were the plans. They figured that Iraq would get a new Constitution in 2005; that the Government would be able to achieve some legitimacy early in 2006, and that by Summer or early Fall 2006 we would be able to announce an imminent decline in American troops for the near future. Then, after Iraq was secured, the Bush Administration would work out a deal with the Saudis to begin to flood the market with additional petroleum in Summer 2006 so that the price of gasoline would fall just before the election. Then, with whoever controls these things, they arranged the climbing of the stock market to new highs (at least the Dow Jones average). Finally, they would claim that they had forestalled many terrorist plots and that new legislation (in this case suspending of the writ of habeas corpus for suspected terrorists) that would show Repblicans tough on terrorism would put the Democrats on the defensive. It was really a wonderful plan, worthy of the best effort of Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman and others. The only problem is that even though (2) and (3) have been effected, (1) has not. And because the "noise" of (1) has gotten so loud, the extremely good news of (2) has been almost completely drowned out. It is highly ironic that Republicans cannot get their message on the economy heard by the country. And then, just when everything wasn't going so well on (1), the October surprise came--the revelation of sexually suggestive emails sent by (now) former Congressman Mark Foley (R-FL) to male Congressional pages. The fallout from the latter was made more severe because of the infighting at the highest levels of the Republican leadership, where Denny Hastert denied knowing about the emails, and Repblican Majority Leader Boehner gently tried to push Hastert off the cliff by suggesting that he did.
To make things worse, all this unseemliness came from the party which had built its base on the promise that it was going to restore a moral America, an America which would be delivered from the "culture of death" and moral decline into which the Democrats had led the country. Then there was Bob Woodward's book State of Denial, which couldn't have been released at a worse time for the Administration. And Woodward--now there is a cagey guy. He wrote a sphingine book a few years ago in which he was gently critical, but mostly seemingly affirming, of the Bush Adminsitration. Then, he was given more access to the White House--and he promptly turned around and cooked the very Administration which had tried to cultivate him.
The Democrats--Still Timid
In a situation like this, where the Republicans were tripping over each other and things were imploding all around, the Democrats might have done well just to sit and watch the implosion. And some have done so. Some, such as John Conyers (D-MI), however have brought up the spectre of an impeachment trial--this would be a sort of payback for the Republican attack on Clinton in the late 1990s--but then other Democrats are seeming to take a more cautious role. Hillary Clinton seems to be quite unsure of herself at this point, giving the impression that she will give 100% of her effort to her New York constituents, if she even knows the names of the towns in which they live, when in fact she is utterly committed to a Presidential campaign. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who stands to gain the most by a Democratic majority in the House, has backpedaled from her support of impeachment hearings in the last day or two. Thus, the historic weakness of the "D's," that they can't seem to manufacture party unity and direction, still dogs them. If they do take back one or both of the Houses of Congress in two weeks, the first decision they will have to make is how aggressively to pursue the President. They could make him look even worse than he now does. They could run the tapes of all the times the President has said he will "look into something" or "have an investigation of" something, and then they can conduct their own investigations and hearings. Some might think this is partisan politics, a sort of payback to the Republicans, but I think that if it can help put all the jumbled facts we now know in a more coherent narrative, we will all be better off as a country.
Certainly the "theocons," those Christian (mostly Catholic) thinkers and activists who have a renewed vision for a "Christian moral order" in America, are not going to roll over and play dead. The battle lines are just being drawn. Democrats will have to come up with a better explanation of cultural development in the last 40 years than they have done hitherto. I am not sure they will make it. Though they stand poised to regain control of Congress, the Democrats, in my judgment, still need all the help they can get.
Copyright © 2004-2007 William R. Long