Republicans Beholden To Bush
by Scott Shields, Tue Feb 28, 2006 at 03:47:04 AM EST
I've often wondered where the Republican Party goes post-Bush. Can they hold their neoconservative/corporate/social conservative coalition together without one centralizing figure at the top? After eight years of Bush in the White House, I think the American electorate is going to be looking for a change. (Hey, they seem to be ready after only five.) One of the dynamics we're seeing emerging now is Bush becoming something of a punching bag for Congressional and state Republicans. Witness as one example Republican governors joining with their Democratic colleagues in criticizing the administration on both cuts to the National Guard and the UAE ports deal.
Earlier this month, the governors signaled their displeasure with the Pentagon's new budget -- which called for a reduction in National Guard troop strength -- by sending a letter of protest. That brought a quick decision to rescind the proposed cut. But governors said they still have many questions about what the Pentagon is planning.
Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne (R), who met earlier with Rumsfeld and encouraged him to speak with all the governors at the NGA meeting, said states may not be able to respond adequately to natural disasters or terrorist attacks at home if the equipment shipped to Iraq with National Guard units is not replenished and if other Guard funding is reduced. "This is a formula for disaster," he said in an interview yesterday. ...
The port issue has drawn criticism from Republican and Democratic lawmakers.
Huckabee said the governors association would take no official position but said elected officials in both parties were justified in challenging the administration, given the outcry over the agreement.
But make no mistake, no one should accept this as proof of actual independence. After all, the Republican governors still need Bush's money.
Republican governors and gubernatorial hopefuls briefly put aside worries that Bush administration stumbles could hamper their chances with voters this fall to address a more immediate concern: the need for cash to fund their races.
A swank crowd of Republican governors and supporters from corporate America and elsewhere gave President Bush a rock-star welcome as he headlined a Monday night reception that added $9.6 million to GOP campaign coffers for fall gubernatorial races.
"I thank you for your steadfast support," Bush told the audience gathered in the stately National Building Museum.
Some have wondered if the administration had been deliberately allowing Republicans further down the food chain to loudly go after Bush as needed if it suits them politically. It's not the most advanced jujitsu, but sometimes it's hard to tell with this administration where the incompetence ends and the tactics begin. I'm still not sure one way or the other, but it's telling that the Republicans are only willing to distance themselves just so much from the leader of their party.