Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Conservative Street

The Moose notes that the White House is losing its touch with the street.

A distinguishing feature of this Administration has been its slavish devotion to the conservative base. No more. The conservative street is seething with discontent.

The moment the disillusionment began in earnest was the day that the President delivered his post-Katrina recovery speech in New Orleans. When W. announced plans for a federal spending project to rebuild the hurricane damaged region, the right awoke from its slumber and expressed outrage about further deepening the deficit.

Then, the Harriet Miers fiasco led many conservatives to express more alarm about the political antennae of the White House. Relations were further frayed when the Administration suggested that Miers' opponents were motivated by sexism.

The Dubai deal highlighted the disconnect between not just the Administration and the conservative grassroots, but also the divide between right wing elites and the street. While most conservative intellectuals supported the deal, talk radio and the street strenuously objected to it.

And a similar division is apparent over immigration. While free market types and many right wing intellectuals support relatively open immigration, the conservative street supports enforcement and restriction. And the Administration appears out of touch with much of the right rank and file over this issue.

Note David Frum's observation,

"If anything were calculated to solidify the perception that this administration scorns the values and concerns of the ordinary Republican - if anything were designed to discourage ordinary Republican from turning out in November 2006 - it is what this administration is doing now. At a moment when the president needs his maximum strength to see his foreign policy through to success, he is gambling everything on a wager he cannot win. His version of immigration reform can only pass Congress with Democratic votes, and there is zero possibility that the Democrats will help him - but every likelihood that they will egg him on to incite a Republican civil war on the issue that most bitterly divides the president's party."

And even when it comes to the President's area of strength in the war against terror there is an emerging break between the street and the Administration. While the President embraces a neo- Wilsonian vision of international democratic transformation, many on the right enlist in the camp of those that National Review editor Rich Lowry labels "to Hell With them Hawks" who eschew nation building and opt for a narrower interpretation of national interests.

This divide in the Republican Party will be reflected in the '08 Presidential race. Expect for a "Buchanan lite" candidate to emerge to attempt to represent the conservative "street."

And by the way - what ever happened to that smart political fella named Rove?
-- Posted at 6:04 AM | Link to this post | Email this post