Bush / GOP

Rothenberg says Anti-GOP tide rising

From today's Hotline. It seems Simon's talking point about this being an anti-republican year, not an anti-incumbent year, is being increasingly borne out. 

Conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt interviewed Roll Call's Stu Rothenberg 8/29 on the GOP's '06 prospects (audio/transcript). Rothenberg told Hewitt:


The environment is not improving for Republican candidates around the country. There's no indication that it will. And increasingly, I am familiar with ... there's both public, but also private polling suggesting real problems for Republican incumbents. The Republican polling shows the Republican vote down. It shows Democratic challengers who are unknown getting a surprisingly large percentage of the vote. What we're really seeing is that voters are simply inclined to change, for change, and that's hurting Republicans.



Winds of change are blowing, hard

Respected students of Congress, Thomas Mann and Stu Rothenberg, now predict the House will flip to the Democrats.  Polling data is coming out of 2nd and 3rd tier House races showing Democrats leading.  New polls showing Democrats now very competitive in the VA and TN Senate races, ones needed to gain Democrats the Senate.  No incumbent Democrat is trailing in a race for Governor, Senate or House.   It is increasingly looking like a nationalized election against Republican governance. 

But no one should be that suprized.  As we've been writing in this space for close to three years, the central political development in America today is the utter failure of conservative and Republican governance.  Even without the aid of hundreds of millions of dollars of television ads that are about to be launched, the American people have figured out, on their own, that the guys running Washington today have blown it.  Big time.  Bush bet the house on Iraq and huge tax cuts for those with means, and has lost. 

Washington is about to change.  The corrupt, arrogant, ineffective and partisan era of Bush, Cheney, Frist and DeLay is coming to an end.  New people will rise to power.  New issues will be tackled.  A new agenda will be pursued.  Those on the losing side will suffer as those who have come before them have, as many of us have on the progressive side who have stuck it out in DC these past few years. 

For progressives, we now have two important tasks.  First, as we plan our governing agenda, we should focus on a few important things and get them right - bringing a lasting peace to the Middle East, creating greater fiscal integrity, making efforts to restore broad-based prosperity, passing immigration reform.  We should avoid the temptation to do too much, or punish the losing side to too great a degree. 

Second, we should work hard on attaching the words arrogant, corrupt, ineffective, partisan, etc to the Republican and conservative brand.  While I do not have partisan animus to those that have run the country this past few years, I do have incredible American animus towards them.  They have weakened our country.  They have worried about themselves and their power and not about us.  They have run up trillions of debt.  Hurt our prestige.  Left our people poorer.   Not attended to urgent national challenges.  Left people to die in New Orleans. 

We have an obligation to not let them get away with their time in power.  We need to label their movement and their politics for what it has been, and do what we must to prevent this kind of government from returning.   We need to work on finding the words to capture this time, and invest a great deal of energy in defining it for future generations. 

While NDN no longer has a federal PAC and has not been involved in these elections by supporting candidates, I am proud of all that we have done to help bring a new path for the nation, and end this disapointing era.  We have spoken out, aggressively, about these conservative failures; offered a new agenda for the nation; worked hard on two critical issues, immigration and making globalization work for all Americans; we've helped teach progressives how to use a new set of powerful tools to get our message out; we've studied and discussed the changing demographics of the nation, helping progressives imagine and build a new majority coalition around a New America;  we've run cutting edge media campaigns across the nation in English and Spanish, reaching tens of millions with our modern and optimistic message; we've helped create a new whole new way of investing monies into building a modern progressive infrastructure suited to our day, our media and our challenges. 

No matter what happens this fall this period of American history is drawing to a close.  Let us committ ourselves, as a network and community, to ensuring that the next era, whatever it is, restores the great promise of our extraordinary nation.  I am proud of what we've done here at NDN, but remain humbled by all the work that must be done. 

Oh My God: They've Left Bushy

A bravura day of GOP bashing in the New York Times Opinion pages today is capped with this splendid riff on how the fissures in the Republican coalition have left behind even the "South Park Republicans." And the last line of this quote - i love it:

The G.O.P. used to have a sizable libertarian bloc, but I couldn't see any sign of it at the conference. Stone and Parker said they were rooting for Hillary Clinton in 2008 simply because it would be weird to have her as president.  ''We're the long-suffering, battered spouse in a dysfunctional political marriage of convenience,'' said Nick Gillespie, the editor in chief of Reason. ''Most of the libertarians I know have given up on the G.O.P. The odds that we'll stick around for the midterm election are about as good as the odds that Rick Santorum will join the Village People.''


They are in serious trouble

A front page Post piece this morning was devastating for the Administration.  In plain simple language it made the case that Bush was finally recognizing that our work in Iraq was in serious trouble, and if anything was much likely to worsen this fall. 

Also likely to worsen this fall is the economy.  Some say slowdown, some say recession.  Whatever happens, it is happening now, and will likely worsen as we approach November. 

It has been my belief for a long time that elections are fought primarily on peace and prosperity.  The sober reality for Republicans now is that on the two most salient issues facing the nation, the Middle East and broadly shared prosperity, their record has been dismal; and conditions are more likely than not to get a whole lot worse before the elections.  And there is very little Bush and company can do about it. 

Which is why this is shaping up not to be an anti-incumbent year, but an anti-Republican one.  All polling shows that people believe the nation is headed in the wrong direction and appropriately blame those in power, which in this case are the Republicans.  Few Democratic incumbents are endangered in Congress or in Gubernatorial races.  Meanwhile many Republican seats are in serious jeopordy in the Senate, the House and in Statehouses.  If it was an anti-incumbent year more Democrats would be in trouble.  They aren't. 

The tide has turned hard against the Republican Party.  And it is about to get a whole lot worse. 

Iraq: How much worse is enough?

Its a grim day in Iraq. But isn't every day? Perhaps the damning headline of the war is on the front page of this morning's Post - Bush's New Argument on Iraq: It Could Be Worse. I'm not sure how. The article is pretty devastating for anyone retaining a positive view of the war's future. I'm going to go along to this intriguing looking event at the New America Foundation at lunchtime - Moral Clarity and the Middle East: Long War, Wider War, or the Return to a Peace Process? - to see how much longer the long war can be expected to drag on. I can't think its going to be uplifting. I'll report back later. 



Sun Ripened Pork

Pork? Its what's for dinner, or at least so says the newly minted, bipartisan Sunlight Foundation.  The Christian Scinece monitor profiles their efforts to end the increasingly dispiriting rise of earmarks as a day-to-day tool of Republican congressional management: 

"Once you know who the member is, you can start asking questions such as: Is there a direct financial connection with a member of the board of directors who is a [campaign] donor? How was this hospital or training program chosen over another? Sometimes it's because it's the best program; sometimes it's because there's a lobbyist who is paid," says Zephyr Teachout, national director of the Sunlight Foundation. "We hope to turn K Street upside down."


Of Poker and Partisanship

As a disclaimer, this post is not about the Republican candidate for Senate in Connecticut, Alan Schlesinger. But if you haven't watched his performance on Hardball (it's pretty gruesome), take a look.

Interestingly, Tom Edsall writes in TNR about how party affiliation affects poker play. A few points he uses to back his thesis:

Republicans are much less risk-averse than Democrats, and taking risks is crucial to poker...The party advocating preemptive war is not likely to be cowed by a big bet. Democrats, conversely, are the party of risk-aversion--supportive of the safety net, opposed to new weapons systems, and sympathetic to protective trade policies. They are less able to tolerate the tension and uncertainty of a game in which a week's salary--or more--can be won or lost in a single hand.

Another argument for the view that Republicans make better poker players is that poker rewards what feminists have long considered one of the worst attributes of men: the capacity to "objectify" the other...The game, pitting men against men in a zero-sum competition, is the classic form of evolutionary conflict...But the quick and dirty summary is that the Republican Party's candidates attract a greater percentage of men than women by advocating a male view of life as a game in which the rewards justly go to the winners.

It certainly makes sense, but needs to be clarified and examined further. First, characterizing Republicans as masculine does not make Democrats feminine. This election cycle, at its very least, should prove our ability to go on the offensive. Second, nothing shows that their Darwinian, winner-take-all approach will maintain itself as a long-term governing philosophy. (Check out NDN's use of soccer to brand Democratic values here). As Edsall concludes, "Empathy and affection damage the ability to win. I think the person who probably best understands all this is Karl Rove." For my part, I'd rather keep my sense of empathy, affection, and what's right - rather than giving these up to win at any cost.

Republican Miscues in the News

Evolution, the evironment, and the minimum wage - three areas highlighting GOP troubles in the news as of late.

With evolution, voters in Kansas elected school board officials "who believe evolution is well-supported by evidence," the AP reports. The article references the late night fun poked at the state, namely The Daily Show's "Evolution Schmevolution," a four part series that, while lengthy, is worth a look.

Second, displaying the unwillingness of his own party to address environmental issues, Governor Scharzenegger said "California will not wait for our federal government to take strong action on global warming," in an LA Times piece covering UK's new accord with the state.

The Governator continues...

"International partnerships are needed in the fight against global warming, and California has a responsibility and a profound role to play to protect not only our environment, but to be a world leader on this issue as well."

...showing, sadly, that the Bush-led US won't be world leader, but our largest populated state will. Blair, adding insult to injury, called global warming "long term, the single biggest issue we face." The PM also appears in an LA Times op-ed, in which he urges for more American leadership.

Finally, Harold Meyerson of the Post has a fiery op-ed about minimum wage, declaring...

"In dealing with the major issues of our time (global warming, immigration, the diminishing benefits and stagnant wages that characterize today's economy) or in discharging its oversight duties over administration policies that have failed (the war in Iraq) or were stillborn (the rescue of New Orleans), the Republican-controlled Congress has been nowhere to be found...Still, the one thing that should engender more fear than the current Congress's doing nothing is the current Congress's doing something."

Enter the minimum wage bill (if you can call it that with a clear conscience).


Misgoverning Philosophy

This morning's Post has an excellent overview of yesterday's Court decision. It hones in on why the judgement should properly be seen not just as slap in the face on the issue of guantanmo trials, but as a Governing Philosophy Rebuffed.

The Supreme Court has struck at the core of his presidency and dismissed the notion that the president alone can determine how to defend the country...  For many in Washington, the decision echoed not simply as a matter of law but as a rebuke of a governing philosophy of a leader who at repeated turns has operated on the principle that it is better to act than to ask permission.

The use of that phrase "governing philosophy" strikes a chord here at NDN. A central contention of our meeting last week was that the Republicans have given us bucketfulls of evidence that theirs has now failed. But two things further things strike us. First, the brazen response of Tony Snow when he said yesterday: "I don't think it's ever been the goal of the administration to expand executive authority. We don't have `expand executive power' sessions." As Think Progress points out, it seems pretty clear that the Vice Presiden't couldn't disagree more. But even more than the landgrab for executive privledge, it the historical analogy which really stands out. Bush now sits joins Nixon (wiretapping Vietnam protestors) and Reagan (gun-running for the Contras) in the short-but-dismal list of Presidents handslapped by the Court for over-reaching their powers.  And what can be more instructive of this President's failed agenda than the company he keeps?

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