Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Americans May Decide on a Midcourse Change

Democrats know Washington is broken. Independents know that Washington is broken. Even a significant number of Republicans now know that Washington is broken. Whatever the Republican Party once was, it no longer is. There's something wrong with the leadership of a political party that says nothing when Ann Coulter slanders widows of 9/11. There's something wrong with the leadership of a political party when Rush Limbaugh ridicules someone with Parkison's Disease. If that isn't bad enough, it just gets worse and the American people know it.

Adam Nagourney of The New York Times reports on the last New York Times/CBS poll before the election (hat tip to The Washington Monthly; bold emphasis mine):
The poll found that just 29 percent of Americans approve of the way President Bush is managing the war in Iraq, matching the lowest mark of his presidency. Nearly 70 percent of Americans said Mr. Bush did not have a plan to end the war, and an overwhelming 80 percent said Mr. Bush’s latest effort to rally public support for the conflict amounted to a change in language but not policy.

The poll underlined the extent to which the war has framed the midterm elections. Americans cited Iraq as the most important issue affecting their vote, and majorities of Republicans and Democrats said they wanted a change in the government’s approach to the war. Only 20 percent said they thought the United States was winning in Iraq, down from a high of 36 percent in January.


Mr. Bush’s approval rating was 34 percent, unchanged from a poll three weeks ago, an anemic rating that explains why many Democrats are featuring him in their final advertisements, as well as why many Republican incumbents do not want him at their side.

Americans are finally getting it. Bush has no plan and all he does is talk. Americans know we have a problem. It's their responsibility to go to the polls and make the necessary changes. Traditionally a higher percentage of Republican than Democrats go to the polls. If voters have had enough of Bush's failed policies and incompetence and the business as usual attitude of the current Republican-controlled Congress, they know what they need to do.

Jonathan Weisman and Jeffrey H. Birnbaum of The Washington Post say that the Democrats may win the House because of all the scandals:
Indictments, investigations and allegations of wrongdoing have helped put at least 15 Republican House seats in jeopardy, enough to swing control to the Democrats on Tuesday even before the larger issues of war, economic unease and President Bush are invoked.

With just five days left before Election Day, allegations are springing up like brushfires. Four GOP House seats have been tarred by lobbyist Jack Abramoff's influence-peddling scandal. Five have been adversely affected by then-Rep. Mark Foley's unseemly contacts with teenage male House pages. The remaining half a dozen or so could turn on controversies including offshore tax dodging, sexual misconduct and shady land deals.


Democrats have tried to gain political advantage from what they called "a culture of corruption" in Republican-controlled Washington. Republican campaign officials insist the theme has not caught on with the public, but even they concede that many individual races have been hit hard.

"So many different kinds of scandals going on at the same time, that's pretty unique," Zelizer said. "There were scandals throughout the '70s, multiple scandals, but the number of stories now are almost overwhelming."

Bush, alone, may cost Republicans another ten to twenty seats above the fifteen seats mentioned above. There's a slim possibility, if the Democrats turn out in large numbers, that the Republicans may lose the Senate.

E. J. Dionne of The Washington Post reminds us of how far the values of the Republican leadership in Washington has fallen:
Ronald Reagan's brilliant achievement on behalf of American conservatism was to capture hope and optimism from a liberal movement that enjoyed a near monopoly on those virtues from the day Franklin Roosevelt told us we had nothing to fear but fear itself.

Whatever else it will be remembered for, this year's campaign will mark the moment when Republican leaders who govern in the name of conservatism turned definitively away from hope and waged one of the most trivial and ugly campaigns in our country's history.


The reason is obvious: With the public turning against President Bush's policies in Iraq, most Republicans would prefer not to defend the war. Because most voters do not see the battle in Iraq as making us more secure, fear of terrorism has not worked as effectively for the GOP as it has in the past two elections. And the current majority can't exactly brag about, say, balanced budgets or its achievements in this Congress.

(snip) many compassionate conservatives will come forward to condemn Rush Limbaugh's cruelty in mocking Michael J. Fox's painful body movements induced by Parkinson's disease? Limbaugh felt free to parody Fox's agony because the actor had the nerve to make advertisements for Democratic candidates who support embryonic stem cell research. If you help Democrats, anything goes. Limbaugh claimed that Fox either "didn't take his medication or he's acting." Limbaugh ultimately apologized but called Fox "really shameless" in seeking sympathy. Really shameless? From Limbaugh?

At some point, even ordinary Republicans, the rank and file, need to say enough is enough. The Republicans will have to rebuild their party on sounder principles and they know it. The current Republican leadership has seriously lost its way. Check out Keith Olbermann's words in the transcript provided on Americablog and weep that there are right wing Republicans who would push our democracy to the breaking point just for the sake of power, just to avoid blame, just for the sake of avoiding real responsibility to the American people. President Bush owes the American people an apology for his failures and his recklessness.


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