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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Republican troubles « Previous | |Next »
May 15, 2006

National Journal has good account of the difficulities the Republicans face in the upcoming US congressional elections. Written by Carl M. Cannon, it is entitled How Republicans Can Get Their Groove Back. Can they?

Mike Luckovich

I don't reckon they can. Some of them are even fantasizing that they can get their groove back by returning to their roots---- small government and fiscal restraint---at a time of budget and current account deficits. Things are bad when the how the broad decline in public approval for President Bush and the Congressional Republicans is beginning to cut into their core supporters:---the angry Christian Right.

Will the "angry white male" of the 1990s come to the Republican's rescue? Isn't the impassioned anger of white male populism the Republican groove these days?

So we have President Bush proposing to send thousands of National Guard troops to help seal the U.S.-Mexican border against illegal immigrants to settle down the angry socially conservative Republican base. Historically the American border with Mexico has acted as a dam to regulate the supply of labor, not to close it off completely.

But the screws are being tightened, even though American capitalism is dependent on cheap immigrant labour from the south. Bush supports, in principle, a Senate-backed plan that would provide immigrants who have lived here for five or more years a clear path to citizenship if they pay a penalty. But the Republican-controlled House so far has been hostile to the emerging Bush plan. Conservatives in that chamber are pushing for legislation that would tighten the borders but would not allow any route to citizenship that does not require first leaving the country.

Will the angry socially conservative Republican base see through the Rovian smoke and mirrors?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:34 PM | | Comments (10)


It is possible that the only thing that will save them is the gerry-mandering of the house. Won't help them in the Senate, but the house is so well gerry-mandered that states like CA have one competitive seat (out of 95 IIRC) and the swing has to be greater than 7% there. It is quite pitiful how badly the states gerry-mander themselves.

There was a Lukavich cartoon the other day in the WaPo, I can scan it for you if you like, that had the Democrats campaign plans. It was a donkey in a lounge chair eating popcorn watching the elephant fall.

Pretty much summed it up.

It only too a decade of congressional power and five years of presidential power for the republicans to corrupt/arrogate themselves into electoral disrepute.

The shifting political fortunes of the Republicans and Democrats are noted in Australia.The analysis is what is missing.

Thus we have Steve Lewis in todays Australian saying:

GEORGE W. Bush is living on borrowed time. His leadership is in the doldrums, his approval ratings approaching the levels experienced by Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter at their nadir. These are not happy days for the President. A nervous Republican Party is anticipating a rout in the midterm elections later this year, handing back congressional control to the Democrats.

It's okay as far as it goes. But we get no sense of what is happening beyond that, as the rest of the Lewis article is about what this means for Australia's relationship with the US.

Lewis is right to address the risks of Howard's insurance policy cos impeachment will be on the agenda. But Australian journo's never dig any deeper we are left ignorant of what is actually happening in the US.

I am not sure that impeachment will occur, unless a Democratic Congress and Senate finds genuine illegal activities. However it looks like the White House has been acting that way, but if they start setting up inquiries and re-assertin Congressional authority, it appears likely that scandal after scandal will be exposed.

Due to gerry-mandering though, there is no gaurantee that the House will end up with a Democratic majority. The next Democratic Presidential candidate will hope it is, constant scandal will make it easier for them to run on a platform of, "Thank god I am not George W Bush".

I see that the Washington Post is reporting that:

Public confidence in GOP governance has plunged to the lowest levels of the Bush presidency, with Americans saying by wide margins that they now trust Democrats more than Republicans to deal with Iraq, the economy, immigration and other issues....Dissatisfaction with the administration's policies in Iraq has overwhelmed other issues as the source of problems for President Bush and the Republicans.

The war looms over everything. The country has gone off Bush's message, and it shows no sign of coming back.

Alas, the improved prospects for November for the Democrats is driven primarily by dissatisfaction with Republicans rather than by positive impressions of their own party.

So, if Republicans can turn the election into a choice between the two parties, then they could frustrate Democratic hopes of capturing control of one or both houses of Congress. Still that leaves the Republicans with their image as protector of the privileged.

I'm sure Karl Rove is working on that.

Oh, I love a good impeachment. Drama. If I knitted, I'd love to knit on the Senate Floor while Bush was being debated.

They didn't have them in Roman times, because the Consul was supposed to be kept in check by his colleague, and also because the Consulship only ran for a year. Consuls could be prosecuted for acts done in office after the event, depending on the political clout of a Consul's enemies. (Dictators could not, which is why the Senate never was that keen on appointing Dictators.)

Gary, Rove's latest speech was to claim that RNC polls show Bush having a 60-something percent approval rate - not 29%.

There has also been a change in the on-message thing as well, Bush is now constantly thanked for his great leadership and called sir in media appearances by members of the administration.

Howard yesterday said something similar about Bush, which makes me wonder if he is part of it too. It isnt the first time that the Howard Government has co-ordinated message with the US.

The Republican image atm is one of sheer incompetence. There has even been rumblings from the hard-conservative base that they are fed up with Bush because he hasn't been conservative enough, and the recent immigration speech, may have confirmed it for them.

The hard-conservatives don't have abortion banned, they don't have gay marriage constitutionally out-lawed, the appointments to the supreme court have not been conservative enough (though they were as conservative as was politically achievable), and now Bush is seeking middle ground on immigration.

There are a lot of unhappy campers around.

I think it is like that recent article of yours on Spinoza, you can only illicit support from fear or promises for so long.

I've mention your mate Sulla and dictatorship in terms of the state of exception here.Its part of an exploration of this theme through the use of Karl Schmitt and Giorgio Agamben.

The Republicans are now saying that the Democrats will censure and impeach the President if they win back Congress and the compliant media are nibbling on the bait.

Are the Democrats spooked? Why don't they say that the US needs a good accounting of the Bush years and that
a Republican controlled Congress has ducked its responsibilities? Isn't the civic republican tradition of the US constitution one in which lawmakers have held presidents to account regardless of party affiliation? Isn't this tradition of real bipartisan oversight a mechanism whereby the federal government uncovers mistakes and keeps itself honest?

This argument against a partisan Republican Congress is one says the GOP attitude is unlikely to change unless the balance of power in Washington changes. So lets change the balance of power.

How come the Democrats aren't making that kind of argument?


in reponse to your coments:

There was a Lukavich cartoon the other day in the WaPo, I can scan it for you if you like, that had the Democrats campaign plans. It was a donkey in a lounge chair eating popcorn watching the elephant fall.Pretty much summed it up.

I notice that some journos are writing that it is beginning to look as if the long-suffering Democrats are rediscovering their mojo; at a time when the Bush administration is imploding and the Republicans are trying to get their groove back.

Amy Sullivan, the editor of The Washington Monthly, is positively glowing about the courageous Democrats on the Hil ltaking the fight to the arrogant Republicans.

you write:

There has even been rumblings from the hard-conservative base that they are fed up with Bush because he hasn't been conservative enough, and the recent immigration speech, may have confirmed it for them.

Well it does seem that Bush's immigration speech made the xenophobic assimilationist Republican base, who want a huge wall and active deportation,even more angry.

There is a bit of a round up of responses by Glenn Greenwald. Greenwald says that:

It was a mushy, uninspired speech with little that was new, so it wasn't going to win the president any converts. But for the same reason, it had the effect of exacerbating the Right's growing dissatisfaction with Bush by getting their hopes up, only to then rub their noses in the fact that the president is never going to embrace their views on immigration, which they have decided is now The Paramount Issue. What did the White House hope to gain from any of this? One thing is clear: the longer and more prominently immigration remains on the table, the better it is for Democrats.

It would appear that George Bush and Karl Rove have largely run out of symbolic gestures they can throw to the angry nationalist, socially conservative, Christian wing of the party.

The problem this wing of the GOP has is that the economics of illegal immigrant labour is that it bites deep into everyday life.

I am not sure the White House picked this fight, they lost control of it too quickly.

The media are happy as they can claim all sort of outrageous and sensationalist things, ie O'Reilly claiming the monolithic left want to remove white christians from power, as well as trot out all sorts of sensationalist images.

It is winner for everyone but those in power. Which is odd, as usually nationalist political ploys help collapse support to the central government.

This was not a debate until recently. Everyone knew it went on, but the benefits to the US economy were obvious, so everyone kept kind of quiet and tolerated it.

The US is also facing high inflation, IIRC it was 5% for the last quarter, so cutting out cheap wages will only make it worse.

Stopping borders flows is also like trying to push water up hill. This is a loser no matter what.