Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Xanax for Elephants

The Moose opines that a visitor from another planet would think that the elephant lost.

In the week before W's second inauguration, what is most striking is Republican anxiety. The President's popularity is relatively anemic, Iraq is a mess, his Social Security proposal is in jeopardy of being DOA and the internal divisions in the GOP are obvious. Meanwhile, the Democratic opposition is strikingly united.

The President's social security scheme is proving to be surprisingly divisive for the Republicans. The Washington Post reports this morning - In GOP, Resistance On Social Security,

"Outside Congress, several party activists are sounding similar alarms after word spread last week that Bush is planning to reduce future benefits as part of the restructuring. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) is warning that Republicans could lose their 10-year House majority if the White House follows through with that proposal.

William Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard, is challenging the president's assertions that Social Security is in crisis and that Republicans will be rewarded for fixing it. Republicans are privately "bewildered why this is such a White House priority," he said. "I am a skeptic politically and a little bit substantively."

Meanwhile, in the House, the Delayicans are implementing a purge of those who stray from the party line. It is anticipated that Joel Hefley will be removed as Ethics Committee Chair because of his independence and Robert Novak reports ,

"We are looking more and more like the Democrats we replaced," a House committee chairman told me Wednesday. That comment came before he learned, to his surprise and sorrow, that the House Republican leadership had removed Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey as chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. The extraordinary purge buttressed the growing impression of arrogance as Republicans enter their second decade of power in the House."

And conservatives are concerned that their dear leader is not sufficiently engaged in the fight. There is no stronger Bush supporter than Fred Barnes, and this is what he writes in the Weekly Standard's editorial,

"Why, then, are we a bit anxious about the president and his daring domestic agenda? It's certainly conservative enough. The problem is that the White House seems, at times and perhaps inadvertently, to be headed toward undermining its chances of bringing the agenda to fruition. We say this based not only on a few hints or evasions by White House officials, but also on several of Bush's strategic decisions about how he's going to deal with Congress this year on taxes, Social Security, and the budget deficit."

Given all this high anxiety, the Moose plans to operate a Xanax stand at the inauguration. All of this is not to say that a Republican crack-up is imminent. But the GOP is clearly a party with, at best, severe growing pains. The truth is that these internal tensions have always been there, but they have been suppressed because of the war and the Presidential re-elect. Now, that the election is over, the inherent contradictions within the party are more obvious.

By no means should the Republican divisions prompt Democratic complacency. Ultimately, the Democratic Party must adopt a coherent alternative vision to become a potent oppositional force. It is the Moose's constant refrain, but the key for the D's is to embrace a credible reform agenda. That means also challenging Democratic sacred cows. For instance, why don't Democrats attack pork barrel spending and corporate welfare?

Dare to struggle, dare to win!
-- Posted at 8:30 AM | Link to this post | Email this post