Bush / GOP

Exit: stage right

Colbert's "video love letter" pays tribute to the outgoing Republican majority.

The President's Press Conference...

"Say, why all the glum faces?" President Bush began his press conference today--it seemed from the outset that the press conference today, after Democrats had taken control of the House (and at least half the Senate seats at the time of this post) and the announcement of the resignation of Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, would be one to watch.

But besides the mishandling of the English language and the quasi-sexist comments about helping soon-to-be Madame Speaker Pelosi "pick out the new drapes in her new offices," the most surprising quote from the press conference today would have to be this:

My point is is that, while we have been adjusting, we will continue to adjust to achieve the objective. And I believe that's what the American people want.

Somehow it's seeped in their conscience that, you know, my attitude was just simply Stay the course. Stay the course means let's get the job done, but it doesn't mean staying stuck on a strategy or tactics that may not be working. So perhaps I need to do a better job of explaining that we're constantly adjusting.

If you haven't seen this DNC ad from two weeks ago, now would be a good time to take a look.

It's not difficult to see that since May 2003, when the President declared "Mission Accomplished," that the news cycle regrading Iraq hasn't changed much--rising US-casualties, sectarian violence, and a President who wanted to "stay the course until the job is done." In electing Democrats yesterday, the American people showed their distrust that the President's "course" (and staying that "course") was something that would benefit America.

John McCain is the big loser tonight

Events of recent weeks have changed the outlook for 2008. 

On the Republican side, Frist and Allen have been very damaged.  Many of the other leading candidates - Romney, Guliani, Gingrich - have significant problems.  And their frontrunner, John McCain, has been damaged by his embrace of the President's failed policy in Iraq, the issue that is causing the GOP so much trouble.  McCain has also been weakened in the Republican Primary universe, as his championing of immigration reform has made him unacceptable to a sizeable part of a the electorate he needs to win his nomination. Their frontrunner and field look much less formable then a few days ago. 

On the Democratic side, Warner's exit and Kerry's stumbles have opened the door for Barack Obama much wider.  If he gets in, the Democratic field all of a sudden looks much more interesting, dynamic and stronger than the weakened Republican field. 

In terms of the electoral college, the Dems have significantly strengthened their national position.  They have deepened their hold on their base in the northern part of the country.  Ohio, the most important swing state in the country, has swung wildly towards the Democrats.  More gains will be made in the West, a region of the country trending much more Democrat.  In the West, immigration has dramatically alienated Lations from the Republicans, further pushing states like AZ, CO, NM and NV towards the Democrats. 

Looking ahead to 2008, I think it is fair to say that Democrat's chances have significantly improved in recent weeks, and the big loser of the night is John McCain. 

What the National Review is Looking at and Freaking Out About

Here's information from a chart that GOP insiders...are using as a cheat sheet:

Eight in the most likely gone category: PA-7, Weldon, OH-18, Ney open, IN-8, Hostettler, CO-7 Beauprez open, AZ-8, Kolbe open, NY-24, Boehlert open, PA-10, Sherwood, CT-4, Shays.

Eight in the expect to lose most of these unless something changes: TX-22, DeLay open, NC-11, Taylor (chart notes unfavorable trend in this race), IN-9, Sodrel, IN-2, Chocola (chart notes a favorable trend), FL-16, Foley open, OH-15, Pryce, PA-6, Gerlach, NH-2, Bass (unfavorable trend).

Twenty in the true toss-up category: IA-1, NY-20, WY, WI-8 (favorable trend), WA-8, VA-2, PA-8, NY-26 (favorable trend), NM-1, IL-6, FL-13, CA-50, CA-11, OH-1, ID-1, NY-25, MN-1, CO-5, OH-2, CA-4.

That's 36 seats total. In the first category, unfavorable trends are noted in 7 of the 8 races (AZ-8 is the only exception). In the third category, 13 out of the 30 races have unfavorable trends.

A day of reckoning for the conservative movement

I was 17 when Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980.  Since then the great back story of American politics has been the ascendency of the conservative movement, and its ally, the Republican Party.  One of the big questions we will all be talking about in the days to come will be whether or not this story of conservative ascendency has come to an end, and whether we are entering a new period in American history. 

I believe we are.   

The last 100 years of American politics can be put into three rough historical periods.  Period 1 ran from TR to FDR, and was a battle for the mastery of a new reform-minded and modern politics eventually captured by the Democrats, and philosophically located squarely in the progressive camp.  Period 2 was FDR to Reagan, and was an era of Democratic ascendency and consolidation of power, and a triumph of progressive values.  Period 3, the conservative ascendency, began in 1980 and saw great triumph in 1994, and again in this decade.  Today as a result of their recent success, the Republican Party and the conservative movement has more political and ideological control over the government than any time since the 1920s. 

The question about conservatism has always been could it mature enough as a governing philosophy to replace 20th century progressivism, and provide America with a true alternative governing approach? I believe the Bush era has answered that question, and the answer is no.  Given the extraordinary failure of conservative government to do the very basics - keeping us safe, fostering broad-based prosperity, protecting our liberties, balancing the books and not breaking the law - I think history will label this 20th century conservatism a success as a critique of 20th century progressivism, but a failure as a governing philosophy.  It never matured into something more than an ivory-tower led and Limbaugh-fed correction to a progressivism that had lost its way.

Despite the many billions spent in building this modern conservative movement, history will label it a grand and remarkable failure.  And I think we will look back at 2006 as the year this most recent period of American history - the conservative ascendency - ended. 

So like two heavy weight boxers stumbling into the 15th round of a championship fight, the two great ideologies of the 20th century stumble, exhausted, tattered and weakened, into a very dynamic and challenging 21st century.  My own belief is that this next American era will not be one dominated by these two exhausted ideologies of the past, but will be a battle for the mastery of a new, as yet unarticulated 21st century governing approach suited to the challenges we face today and built around the media and people of our time.  The core direction of this battle is not the left-right one fought at the end of the last century, but will be more about forward and backward. Meaning that the way we will have to measure progress from now on is to look at how a party or ideological movement captures the three main dimensions of this emergent, post-liberal/conservative politics of our day - a new governing agenda capable of tackling the challenges of our time, and new political arrangements built around the emergent media and people of the 21st century. 

I believe 2006 will become known as the year American conservatism reached its peak, and our 20th century politics fought one its very last battles.  The future will belong to those who master this "new politics" of the 21st century.  Friends, we have a lot of work to do to ensure that it is our movement, and our values, that leave these old and tired battles behind and get about mastering this new politics of the 21st century. 

For a video presentation of about this idea of the "new politics," visit our New Politics Institute site at http://www.newpolitics.net

Crist snub shows how far Bush fallen

The President is slouching back to Texas tonight, unable to get even his handpicked candidate in Florida to show up at a rally designed to help him:

PENSACOLA, Florida (AP) -- The White House did not hide its irritation Monday at Florida GOP gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist for ducking President Bush at a campaign rally in the Republican-friendly Panhandle.

Crist said he considered the Pensacola area so firmly in his camp that it made more sense to campaign elsewhere in the state as the race to replace outgoing Gov. Jeb Bush tightened.

On a tarmac in Texas where the president boarded Air Force One for the trip east, Bush political strategist Karl Rove mockingly questioned what kind of alternate rally Crist could put together that would rival the expected 10,000-person crowd that Bush was expected to draw at the Pensacola Civic Center.

The White House already had distributed schedules saying Crist would introduce Bush at the rally.

Crist's opponent, Democratic Rep. Jim Davis, seized on the news.

"Now that the president is so unpopular, Charlie refuses to stand side by side with him," Davis said. "It says when the going gets tough, Charlie won't stand up."

Crist's chief of staff, George LeMieux, said the candidate already has strong support in the heavily Republican Pensacola area and thought his time would be better spent campaigning elsewhere. LeMieux said the decision had nothing to do with the president's job approval ratings.

Jeb Bush will attend the Pensacola event in Crist's place. Rep. Katherine Harris, who is mounting a lukewarm challenge to Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, will also be with the president. Before the September primary, Republican leaders failed to support Harris.

Bush is using the last day of his 10-state campaign swing to flush out GOP and swing voters needed to keep Republicans sitting in the governor's offices of Arkansas and Texas as well.

Republicans could face $1 billion fine

The Nation Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is in big trouble. They've admitted to making at least 200,000 harassing phone calls to New Hampshire residents. Under state law, delivering prerecorded political messages to numbers on any federal do-not-call list is punishable by a fine of $5,000 per call.

200,000 x $5000 = $1,000,000,000

Read more at DailyKos or the AP story.

Some reports claim that New Hampshire law states otherwise; in fact, N.H. Rev. Stat. § 359-E:7 provides:

A telemarketing sales call shall not include a call made: . . .
(e) On behalf of a political campaign, except that a call made on behalf of a political campaign by a vendor using automatic dialing equipment shall be deemed a telemarketing sales call under this chapter.

and N.H. Rev. Stat. § 359-E:11  provides:

If, after investigating the complaint, the department finds that a person has violated any provision of this subdivision...the department shall impose a civil penalty of $5,000 for each violation.

The Sound of a Campaign Crashing and Burning

I have to credit Dewine with keeping a straight face...

Meet Mr. Boehner

Republicans seem intent on running against Nancy Pelosi, even if most voters have never heard of her.  Maybe Democrats should be running against the man who is the likely next Republican leader in the House, Congressman John Boehner.  As best I can tell, Boehner has an egg timer in his head, and when it goes off he goes off, and says the most awful thing in he can think of on short notice.  Three of his most recent gems:

"I listen to my Democratic friends and I wonder if they’re more interested in protecting the terrorists than protecting the American people."

"Let's not blame what's happening in Iraq on Rumsfeld...The fact is, the generals on the ground are in charge, and he works closely with them and the president."

"If [John Kerry's] not going to apologize, we're going to beat him to death until he does."  Watch that one on ThinkProgress.

Boehner must be seeing internal numbers that say the American electorate is really responding to this Republican Congress that is long on polarizing rhetoric and scandals and short on accomplishment.  Anybody else think Boehner is drinking way too much of the Bush/Cheney/Rove politics of division flavored kool-aid? 

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