Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Revolt

The Moose pontificates on the ugliness of civil war.

No, the Moose is not referring to the dispute between the Sunnis and the Shiites in Iraq. He is talking about the revolt of the conservative base against the White House. The Dubai debacle continues to rile the right wing street. Yet, the signs of discontent have been evident for several months.

Consider this from today's Washington Times,

"I was offended," Sen. Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, said of Mr. Bush's threat last week to veto legislation aimed at stopping the transfer of port operations to a company owned by the United Arab Emirates. He said Mr. Bush "threatened me before I even knew the details of what was involved or whether I was going to vote for the bill or not."

"Mr. Lott said his immediate reaction was: "OK, big boy, I'll just vote to override your veto."

"OK, big boy?!! Is that the way to treat your President and the leader of your party?

Granted - that was Brother Trent who has no particular love for this White House. But consider this from a true believer,

"Even Sen. John Cornyn, the Texas Republican who is possibly the administration's most ardent supporter on Capitol Hill, yesterday criticized the White House's handling of the matter. "If the administration had not surprised Congress with this news ... you wouldn't see the kind of reaction we have now," Mr. Cornyn said."

What conservatives are realizing is that, outside the significant exception of the judiciary, they have not made any long term gains from the Bush Administration. Indeed, compared to the Clinton Administration, the Bushies have been a disaster concerning the government spending and the expansion of the welfare state. On the domestic front, the Clinton Administration will be viewed as far more conservative than the Bushies. Just contrast the Clinton welfare reform bill with the Bush Medicare drug law.

Now, even the most fervent Bush supporters are realizing that the President no longer enjoys the affection of the base. Fred Barnes in the Weekly Standard,

"The surprise in all this and the most worrisome aspect for the White House was the eagerness with which congressional Republicans broke into revolt against Bush. Without checking with Bush or his aides, congressional Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert, denounced the deal publicly and insisted it be reconsidered or blocked.

'The revolt showed that Bush's strength in Congress has significantly eroded as he begins his sixth year as president. In effect, his Republican base is no longer secure."

And this number about conservative sentiment from the New York Times poll is stunning,

"There has been a decline in Mr. Bush's support even among Republicans. In the January Times/CBS News poll, 83 percent of Republicans approved of the way he was handling his job; in the latest poll 72 percent approve. Approval among self-identified conservatives also dropped to 52 percent, from 62 percent."

National security was the last refuge of the President - no longer. As the Dubai deal has illustrated, he is not even trusted by Republicans on national security. The chaos in Iraq and the Dubai deal have undermined his support on the national security front. Conservatives such as William F. Buckley are suggesting that we have lost the war and the tensions between the neo-cons and the traditionalists are emerging.

If President Bush was up for re-election, he would face a challenge from the right - much as Gerald Ford did in 1976. Moreover, in '08, it is unlikely that GOP candidates will be running as Bush Republicans the way that candidates in '88 ran as Reaganites. The fight for the soul of the right and the party will be fought in the 2008 Republican primaries.

Who will be the '08 right-wing tribune decrying the betrayal of the base?

Newt, of course.
-- Posted at 8:16 AM | Link to this post | Email this post