Friday, November 17, 2006

Uh, It's the Republicans Who Are in Disarray

Who can figure out the media? If it's the Democrats, they're contentious folks. If it's Republicans, oh my, what bipartisan gentlemen they are. *Sigh* The cynical media can't seem to tell the difference between rubber stampers who think Bush is doing a fine job and a Congress that's supposed to be a coequal branch of government.

What about the American people? Have they figured it out? Perhaps. Bush's post-election numbers continue to sit in the low thirties according to the Pew Research Center:
Bush's own job approval ratings have hit a new low in the aftermath of the elections. Just 32% of Americans approve of Bush's job performance compared with 58% who disapprove. Bush's job rating stands at just 24% among political independents, who proved crucial to the Democrats' victory on Nov. 7. By 57%-39%, independent voters cast ballots for Democratic candidates, according to national exit polls. Two years ago, independent voters were more divided (50% Democrat/46% Republican). See "Centrists Deliver for Democrats," November 8, 2006).

The broad opposition to President Bush among independents is reflected in their strong preference that Democratic leaders, rather than the president, take the lead in solving the nation's problems. By more than two-to-one (53%-25%), independents believe that Democratic leaders should take the lead on issues. ...

The media has failed to note that centrists came through for Democrats. That's one reason why Pelosi supported John Murtha, to make it clear that moderates and liberals are working together. Murtha didn't win the majority leader position but he has received an important chairmanship. In the meantime, the GOP turned to disgraced former leader Trent Lott. Wow, is that the best Republicans can do these days? Is this what they call rebuilding?

Think Progress has more on possible Republican fallout after the midterm elections:
The White House Bulletin, a service of Bulletin News, reports that White House senior political adviser Karl Rove — aka “Bush’s Brain” — may soon be on his way out:
The rumors that chief White House political architect Karl Rove will leave sometime next year are being bolstered with new insider reports that his partisan style is a hurdle to President Bush’s new push for bipartisanship. “Karl represents the old style and he’s got to go if the Democrats are going to believe Bush’s talk of getting along,” said a key Bush advisor., is that they can do? Is this what they consider rebuilding the Republican Party?

Now the truth is, I'll believe it when I see it. First, I don't see Bush's actions matching his rhetoric about bipartisanship just yet. The reality is that all of us have learned the hard way to pay more attention to what the president does, rather than what he says. Second, Bush and Karl Rove are practically tied together at the umbilical cord. If Rove leaves, it's because Bush has no more campaigns to win and there are new candidates out there to support; that doesn't mean much. On the other hand, given Rove's divisive hardball political style, it would be a good thing to see Rove cut down a notch or two. This is not a guy who will rebuild the Republican Party on a sounder basis.

Maybe not all the traditional media is failing to see what's happening in Washington and the country these days. Here's a guy who's been a little slow to catch on—Dick Meyer of CBS:
This is a story I should have written 12 years ago when the "Contract with America" Republicans captured the House in 1994. I apologize.

Really, it's just a simple thesis: The men who ran the Republican Party in the House of Representatives for the past 12 years were a group of weirdos. Together, they comprised one of the oddest legislative power cliques in our history. And for 12 years, the media didn't call a duck a duck, because that's not something we're supposed to do.

(snip)

Politicians in this country get a bad rap. For the most part, they are like any high-achieving group in America, with roughly the same distribution of pathologies and virtues. But the leaders of the GOP House didn't fit the personality profile of American politicians, and they didn't deviate in a good way. It was the Chess Club on steroids.

The iconic figures of this era were Newt Gingrich, Richard Armey and Tom Delay. They were zealous advocates of free markets, low taxes and the pursuit of wealth; they were hawks and often bellicose; they were brutal critics of big government.

Yet none of these guys had success in capitalism. None made any real money before coming to Congress. None of them spent a day in uniform. And they all spent the bulk of their adult careers getting paychecks from the big government they claimed to despise. Two resigned in disgrace.

Having these guys in charge of a radical conservative agenda was like, well, putting Mark Foley in charge of the Missing and Exploited Children Caucus.

Now he tells us. And he even puts it more bluntly than bloggers like myself. *Sigh* These are indeed strange times.

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