in bush country, when it rains, it pours and pours and pours and pours and pours ...
if the republicans think that they can simply batten down the hatches and ride out the cruel storm season that's settled permanently on bush's second term, they're slowly but surely finding out how utterly futile that strategy is. it's a strategy predicated on the hope that the storm doesn't get worse and ends quickly.
cia director porter goss' abrupt resignation was only the latest of a repetitive series of heavily publicized blows to bush's keeling ship of state. before this last thunderbolt, republicans were just getting themselves comfortable with the grim thought of only losing control of the house, like a bunch of convicts settling into electric chairs:
bill kristol: as of right now, republicans will lose the house. (march 5)
tony blankley: i think most republican operatives believe, if the election were held today, that they'd lose the house and it would be close in the senate.
pat buchanan: the democrats would take the house and they'd have a good chance of taking the senate.
eleanor clift: i think a democratic takeover of the house, yes. (april 7)
pundit david brooks even goes so far as to suggest not only that losing would be a good tonic for republicans, but that democrats would actually behave themselves!
there's really a torpor in the administration. they're not doing anything right now. i think it's now likely to move the house — that they will lose the house. and i think house republicans, privately, most of them admit that. for like a year they were saying, "well, we've got it so sewed up with redistricting. we'll lose, but we won't lose the whole house." i'd say about two weeks ago the conventional wisdom shifted and people said, "we're in such trouble. we are going to lose the house."
personally, i think it would be good for the republican party because it would make them a little more responsive. it would be good for the democratic party; they'd be a little more responsible. but i think now it's likely they will lose the house. if the democrats can't win now, when are they ever going to win? (april 2)
by now it must be painfully obvious to republicans that their lowered expectations are never going to be low enough. they've wanted to believe that public support would eventually bounce back, from iraq, katrina, the cheney shooting, dubai, gas prices — but they've been proven wrong every time. that's because the lord nelson they put at the helm of their navy turned out to be an ahab who's firmly lashed himself to the wheel and threatens to drag them all the way down to the bottom with him. they made their deal with the devil; they traded their principles for power; now they'll be left with neither.
very soon, if it is not already too late, republicans, as a group, are going to have to throw up their hands and say "enough! we can't take this shit any more! this is killing us!" they are going to have to make a stand. they can no longer afford their meager expectations or their dwindling hopes.
they are going to have to take some kind of proactive and substantive role — one far more meaningful to the electorate than a photo op or a $100 gas bribe — if they hope to stanch this massive hemorrhaging of their electoral prospects. only by enacting real legislation and real reforms that tangibly benefit the electorate will republicans be able to stave off their banishment to the political backwaters. legislation calling for a withdrawal from iraq; for campaign and lobbying reform; for reducing the deficit; for reducing gas prices; for creating jobs and raising the minimum wage; for expanding healthcare.
such an effort necessarily involves taking on their dear leader, head-on, mano-a-mano, just for their own survival. for five years republicans have obsequiously accommodated his every whim, but bush's leprous administration has mutated into a ten-ton albatross, a nosferatu sucking the life-force from the party and dragging it into hell. writing on bush's efforts in iraq and iran, columnist thomas friedman likens the white house to a bunch of drunken drivers:
as someone who believed — and still believes — in the importance of getting iraq right, the level of incompetence that the bush team has displayed in iraq, and its refusal to acknowledge any mistakes or remove those who made them, make it impossible to support this administration in any offensive military action against iran.
i look at the bush national security officials much the way i look at drunken drivers. i just want to take away their foreign policy driver's licenses for the next three years. sorry, boys and girls, you have to stay home now — or take a taxi. dial 1-800-nato-charge-a-ride. you will not be driving alone. not with my car. (april 19)
yes, it is well past time to revoke junior's license. so how do republicans strip him of that privilege? the answer lies in challenging bush on his abuse of signing statements.
the boston globe reported how bush has used the signing statements in hundreds of instances to exempt himself from being bound from any law passed by congress:
bush is also the first president in modern history who has never vetoed a bill, an act that gives public notice that he is rejecting a law and can be overridden by congress. instead, bush has used signing statements to declare that he can bypass numerous provisions in new laws. (may 3)
in their challenge to bush, republicans must flatly refuse to recognize any signing statement he attempts to append to any bill. henchforth they must allow bush only to sign or veto a bill, in accordance with orthodox senate tradition. democrats will have no problem joining republicans in such a challenge, especially in defense of strong legislation. already forces are gathering for just such a showdown:
boston globe: the chairman of the senate judiciary committee, accusing the white House of a ''very blatant encroachment" on congressional authority, said yesterday he will hold an oversight hearing into president bush's assertion that he has the power to bypass more than 750 laws enacted over the past five years.
''there is some need for some oversight by congress to assert its authority here," arlen specter, republican of pennsylvania, said in an interview. ''what's the point of having a statute if ... the president can cherry-pick what he likes and what he doesn't like?" (may 3)
but will republicans recognize the true magnitude of the opportunity materializing before them?
bush will no doubt put up a fight to preserve his enlarged domain. if republicans have any hope of restraining ahab, and honestly wish to rehabilitate themselves in eyes of their constituents, they will make their stand here, take their case loudly before the public and force bush to respect all aspects of the laws they pass in their entirety. would bush veto a bill calling for a withdrawal from iraq? or one for reducing the deficit? especially if such bills were backed by a veto-proof majority from both parties? if congress chooses to ignore him in exactly the manner he's ignored them, who will give a fuck?
it's time for congress to show bush what it's like to be powerless. i can find no other means of redemption for republicans other than an act of defiance and integrity. it very well may be too late for them in the eyes of the electorate. it may not win them back any voters that already have been lost. at this stage of the game, it may be simply a matter of keeping the voters they still have, but what other options lay open to them?
washington post: "this administration may be over," lance tarrance, a chief architect of the republicans' 1960s and '70s southern strategy, told a gathering of journalists and political wonks last week. "by and large, if you want to be tough about it, the relevancy of this administration on policy may be over." (may 7)
but the fate of the republicans is insignificant compared to the fate of the country. as long as bush is allowed to hang onto his license and remain petulantly unchallenged, as long as he threatens nuclear armageddon, pisses away the treasury and reduces every agency to a fema, the entire crew, republican, democrat and independent, remain on course to go down in flames with him. dear leader is tearing the country down around his thick granite skull. with a guaranteed new fiasco every week for the next six months, november can't wait.
in truth, i don't expect the republicans to take the high road. that would require a unity they no longer exercise. had they been on the high road, had they placed country before party, they would not now be writing their own obituary. i expect them to fracture and take their chances locally running on their individual merits. they will take what looks like the easy way out. so divided they will fall, hunkered in their cabins, hoping to wait out the storm. but the electorate won't wait with them.
so if november comes to find the republicans reduced to irrelevancy, they will have only their own cowardice to blame. they will not be missed.
al gore: we simply cannot afford to wait 1,000 days to put the brakes on the bush agenda ... the level of cynicism and crass political calculation ... is truly breathtaking. (may 7)