Monday, October 10, 2005

GOP to return to "GOP of old"?

Interesting article in about how the Republicans are trying to move away from the "drunken sailor" spending image that Bush has displayed. However, Bush has hardly been alone, since it is his party that controls the purse strings. From
The Republican hopefuls - as many as a dozen men who already are jockeying for advantage - don't want to be perceived as insiders and heirs to the Bush political establishment. On the contrary, most of them are trying to advertise their independence, to distance themselves from Bush on key issues, to appear as rebels fed up with the wicked ways of Washington.

A small sampling:

Sen. John McCain of Arizona is tweaking Bush for his budget-busting spending binge.

Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, a hero to grassroots conservatives, is threatening to oppose the Miers nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska assails Bush on Iraq, contending that the White House is "disconnected from reality."

Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee scoffs at Bush's suggestion that perhaps the Pentagon should be the lead agency handling natural disasters.

Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, contends that the current GOP establishment, mired in scandals, has betrayed the small-government reform agenda that congressional conservatives brought to Washington 10 years ago.

Rep. Thomas G. Tancredo of Colorado charges that Bush is soft on illegal immigration and hasn't done enough to secure our borders against terrorists.
The Senators (plus Tancredo) have a credibility problem, though, in that they have been enablers of the bloated spending (excluding defense) we've seen since 9/11/2001. Kinda hard for them to argue that they want to be Republicans again...but "wait for '08!" Continuing:
Matthew Continetti, a conservative analyst who is writing a book about the Republican Party, said Friday: "The scandals we're facing are the consequences of being in power so long. Establishments attract ne'er-do-wells. The question we face is, do we want to continue along the same road? During the 2008 primaries, there will be reform candidates making the argument that 'we need to return to our ideals.'"

As for Bush, "you'll see people distancing themselves from him even more. This President is becoming weaker by the day."

Here's the distancing process in action: Top Republicans in four states - West Virginia, North Dakota, Florida and Michigan - have spurned the administration's attempts to sign them up as challengers to four Democratic senators up for reelection in 2006. And this year, in the reliably red state of Virginia, Republican gubernatorial candidate Jerry Kilgore has conspicuously neglected to enlist Bush's help on the stump.
This is a disturbing trend for the GOP. Normally, when Bush has asked someone to run for the Senate to dispel an onstructionist Democrat, Republican candidates have obliged, oftentimes with success (where's Tom Daschle?). However, with more and more party players moving away from Bush, this is bad news for Republicans. Continuing:
Bill Pascoe, a conservative strategist in Chicago, said Friday: "Many conservatives believe that President Bush gave up leadership of the movement last Monday morning, with the Miers nomination. They're disappointed that [by failing to pick a prominent jurist] he shied away from a fight that would have united Republicans and divided Democrats... .

"We wanted a conservative with a track record. We've heard that 'trust me' line many times before. What all this means, for 2008, is that [we] will be more determined to look for a presidential candidate with a conservative track record, somebody with the ability to deliver proven conservative governance."
Normally, the ineptness of Republicans has been offset by grander displays of ineptness and idiocy from Democrats (selections of Howard Dean for DNC chief and Jean-Francois Kerry for prez come to mind). However, one must believe that the law of averages will eventually work in Democrats' favor. If the Democrats can ever convince (or trick, depending on how you look at it) the electorate into believing that they are strong on defense, the GOP is likely in big trouble.

The good news for the GOP, though, is that Dems have by and large yet been able to capitalize on GOP misfortuntes. How long this serendipity lasts is anyone's guess.