Monday, January 2, 2006
We Told 'Em So, Didn't We?
The beginning of the end of the Bush administration
"Last year at this time, the Republicans felt triumphant. They were now firmly in control of everything. They thought they had a mandate.
However, they forgot their natural inclination to overreach. They soon discovered how few people actually supported the most extreme parts of their agenda. When the truth started to seep out, everything imploded.
Despite the narrowest win for an incumbent president since Woodrow Wilson's victory in 1916, President Bush spoke of all the "political capital" he had earned and his intention to spend it. We heard grand talk about the creation of an "ownership society" and how the cornerstone of it would be the privatization of Social Security.
But the GOP underestimated the widespread support for Social Security, arguably the best run and most successful government program in history. The scaremongering by the Bush administration that Social Security was approaching bankruptcy was seen as being as trustworthy as the myriad of lies used to justify the invasion of Iraq."
The Republican crack-up
"Shortly after his reelection, George Bush bragged that he had bags full of political capital for his second term. But Bush both miscounted the political coins in his pocket and blew his wad on some bad gambles, such as the war in Iraq and Social Security privatization. Then he lost more with the bad luck, largely of his own making, of a botched response on Hurricane Katrina.
By late November [FC], he was less popular than Clinton, Reagan or Eisenhower was at any point in their second terms, with his approval ratings down in the mid-30 percents. On the two leading issues for voters--the war in Iraq and the economy--his ratings were even worse.
And despite hard-core loyalty from the Republican base, there are signs of disaffection from both moderates and the party's far right, including anti-government budget-cutters and anti-immigrant militants. Cracks have even emerged in the previously impregnable Republican Congressional political machine over both scandals and strategy. "The hopeful sign is that on all kinds of fronts where Republicans hoped to be united and victorious, they're now defensive and disunited," says Roger Hickey, co-director of the progressive advocacy group Campaign for America's Future (CAF)."