It is shaping up to be a very bad year for the GOP
by Simon Rosenberg, Mon Feb 20, 2006 at 09:43:59 AM EST
Jonathan Singer's post this am about why progressives should be excited about our opportunities this year is a good one. Let me add some thoughts.
The President starts dropping just a few weeks after an ineffective State of the Union. In some polls he dips below 40 percent, truly dangerous territory. It seems like their years of bad governance has finally caught up with them, that the American people are focusing more on deeds, not words. But can the ruthless pols running the GOP these days turn this thing around and snatch a victory from what could be a near-certain defeat?
Looking at how the year is likely to unfold, it is very hard to see how they turn this thing around.
Let's drill down a little.
Their strong and resolute leader gets no bounce from his State of the Union, and has now dropped below levels no one thought possible. News in recent days show that the many parallel criminal investigations into GOP leaders are gaining additional momentum, and will likely become a very big problem later this year. Their domestic policy advisor, the quarterback for any major new domestic initiative, resigns suddenly a few days after the State of the Union indicating deeper troubles inside the White House than is commonly understood. Bush's budget is declared dead on arrival by even Republican analysts.
The Medicare prescription drug rollout has been a disaster, with millions of seniors not getting their medicines. Millions who do have the benefit will be hitting the infamous "doughnut hole" for the first time in the months right before the election. Energy costs are more likely to rise than fall this year. Health care costs will continue to rise, further squeezing workers and corporations. The Republicans are deeply divided on the volatile immigration issue, and so far have allowed looney demagogues to define their position. Corporate pension troubles will mount. Economic forecasts predict that national economy will slow later this year.
Bad you say, but what about their ability to exploit their advantages on security issues to help turn the table on Democrats? But what can they point to here? The 9/11 Commission giving their efforts on homeland security Ds and Fs? The rise of terrorism across the world? The containment of Avian Flu? The incredible failures of the Department of Homeland Security on Katrina? The rise of anti-Americanism throughout Latin America?
Iraq? Just in recent days the Administration lost another one in Iraq, with our candidate for Prime Minister losing to a more religious candidate. The CIA analyst in charge of the intelligence leading up to the War says the Administration went too far, essentially manufacturing their case for war. More photos from Abu Grahib surface and get worldwide coverage. In the Plame affair, Libby fingers Cheney as having ordered the leaks, raising the possibility that both Rove and Cheney could be indicted. Even if Bush pulls out troops this year it is hard to see how Iraq possibly becomes an asset for them this year.
A safer Middle East? Religious zealots dedicated to the destruction of Israel have now gained power in Iran and Palestine. Al Qaeda operatives convicted for the bombing an American warship in Yemen "escape" from prison, and are now on the loose. Things seem to be getting much worse there, not better.
Domestic warrantless spying? The President has spent perhaps more days this year on this issue than any other. And for what? Their Congressional leaders have it made it clear that this program cannot continue without judicial oversight. The White House belief that this is a winner just shows how little they have to work with.
And finally, Cheney. Always a public opinion anchor, he has become an ever bigger liability for the President.
So, how do they turn it around this year?
Don't really see how they do it.
I've been skeptical about the fall elections becoming a 1994-like "change election." But given that in Mid-February the President has dropped below 40 percent, their weak agenda has nowhere to go, foreign policy and security issues are as likely to be as damaging to them as helpful, and the criminal cases against their leadership will spread and deepen, I think even the skeptics have to now acknowledge that 2006 is likely to become an historically bad year for the governing party.
And that's why we need to stay focused on the big prize here - weakening the capacity of the GOP/conservative coalition from implementing their reckless agenda that is weakening our great country.