It is shaping up to be a very bad year for the GOP

Simon is the President of the New Democrat Network.

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.  

Tags: 2006 elections, Bush, GOP (all tags)

Comments

11 Comments

How the GOP recovers

Another terror strike. Now, normally you would think that this would hurt the party in power, but they will spin it that our enemies were emboldened by Democrats hampering the President.

Makes me gag, but I beleive it's true. No one ever went broke underestimating the American public.

by antiHyde 2006-02-20 10:15AM | 0 recs
Oh, yes, I forgot

They will trot out Joe Lieberman to say it first.

by antiHyde 2006-02-20 10:18AM | 0 recs
May NOT work

Democrats did what they should have done after 9/11 and what the nation would expect ... rally to the President.  However, this time they would not owe that duty.

This time they would need only take a two day pause from partisan attacks, make the necessary statements of sorrow, goodwill, and support, and them come out on the attack .... full throttle.

They could point to the 9/11 Commission reports and the subsequent complaints of commission members about the slow speed with which the Bush admin has enacted recommendations.

They could point to Katrina / Chertoff as examples of the weakness at the Homeland Security Dept.

They point to assertions made by Bush / Cheney that their domestic spy programs and torture tactics in secret foreign prisons were working and keeping us safer.

They could point to their many calls for improved security efforts here at home that have been rejected by Republicans for budgetary reason.

They could point to the fact that Clinton kept US soil safe from foreign terrorists for the remainder of his term after the first WTC attack.  

.... I think the American people are through with Bush and I think many are through with republicans for a while.   If Democrats hang tough and don't act like scared little rabbits I don't think there is any storm that we couldn't weather between now and November.

by dpANDREWS 2006-02-20 11:45AM | 0 recs
Re: May NOT work

"If Democrats hang tough and don't act like scared
little rabbits"

That's a big if.

by antiHyde 2006-02-21 04:40AM | 0 recs
Even simpler

Leave it to the Corporate Media.  They'll make sure the Democrats look like feckless fools.  It's worked before; why not this time, too?

by jumped up monkey 2006-02-21 09:11PM | 0 recs
From Your Mouth to God's Ears...
but it won't "just happen".  In doing my political thing in MD, lots of people keep saying, "agreed, so what do Dems have to offer"?  Part of that response is simply echoing the rovian meme, but some of it reflects a real lack of leadership in the Party, and certainly a lack of depth. We would do much better, IMHO, if we could offer up spokespersons other than biden, holy joe, the ragin cagin (a grotesque anti-pod of his wife), and hillary. These "leaders" are so nuanced in their positions that the positions are opaque to many.
So by all means, lets continue to skewer the Cegelis', the Hacket's and the Dean's. As another diary here explores, authenticity and passion seems to get punished, but that's what drives me.
by DFATMA 2006-02-20 10:20AM | 0 recs
Re: A very bad year

Good piece, Simon, filled with important considerations. Towards the end, you write: "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."

For me, the biggest block to the tsunami wave or what you call the "1994-like 'change election,'" is a failure of imagination and lack of well-grounded vision on the part of the Inside the Beltway Democratic Party establishment.  Many from the Democratic base are pissed off, or at least disillusioned, not just because Party insiders (some say "Stalinists") are moving ruthlessly against grassroots and progressive candidates in local races with the goal of eliminating primaries to guarantee the insertion of DCCC/DSCC-anointed candidates, but because of the very nature of the anointed candidates themselves. The most nationally prominent of these cases was the Sherrod Brown/Paul Hackett contest in Ohio-- but this case is the least emblematic of any because of Sherrod Brown's sterling credentials. Many people-- like myself-- who were angered by the clumsy, self-destructive, anti-democratic move by Schumer, Reid and Emanuel to force Hackett out of the race, are actually Brown supporters, now disaffected Brown supporters. But, like I said, this race is far from typical.

Pick a vulnerable Republican incumbent almost anywhere in the country and you will see similar scenarios orchestrated by the most loathsome of all Inside the Beltway pols, Rahm Emanuel, our own little Tom DeLay. Emanuel and his goons have been pressuring grassroots candidates, progressives and anti-war candidates to drop out of race after race after race-- but instead of acceptable alternatives, he is offering retread Republicans (or in the case of FL-16, an actual Republican) instead of true blue Democrats. This is the kind of thinking-- accompanied by despicably vicious tactics which may seem fine in Emanuel's Daley-era Chicago but don't work in the rest of the country-- that could keep enough Americans repeating the old right-wing-generated canard: "All politicians are disgusting and corrupt and they're all the same. So why bother to vote at all?" By elevating a lowlife like Emanuel to a position of leadership, the Democrats just give credence to that way of thinking. Democrats should win this on the field of IDEAS and we should have candidates who have positions that reflect genuine Democratic ideals and who can defend them. These are just the types of candidates Boss Emanuel fears most-- and, alas, just the ones he is driving away (with their supporters).

by DownWithTyranny 2006-02-20 10:30AM | 0 recs
Amen!

You hit the nail squarely on the head.

Our leadership is doing everything possible to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  It's a race between the incompetence of GOP governance and the incompetence of Dem politicking.  

by Paul Rosenberg 2006-02-20 10:18PM | 0 recs
Re: It is shaping up to be a very bad year for the

Well, even though our party still neglects to take an affirmative issue on LGBT rights (civil rights trumpteers that we are...right), the Republicans can use their favorite card from elections past: homophobia. Why don't we take the principled stands in favor of these rights & stand up to the Republican hate machine...they've already pinned a gay rights banner over the party anyway?

by AZJustice 2006-02-20 10:48AM | 0 recs
Re: It is shaping up to be a very bad year for the

that card has run its course I think.  I could be hopelessly optimistic though.

by jgarcia 2006-02-20 06:24PM | 0 recs
Re: It is shaping up to be a very bad year

doing my political thing in MD, lots of people keep saying, "agreed, so what do Dems have to offer"?

The Democrats have to keep this simple, and values based.  Things like better leadership, ending corruption in DC, and making departments like Homeland Security and FEMA work for the people, should be the kinds of words spoken.

Nancy Pelosi put out a road map a few months back which should be memorized by every Democratic candidate.

by Dick Tuck 2006-02-21 03:51AM | 0 recs

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