Sunday, October 16, 2005

Chuck Hagel Shows How the GOP Split Is Helping...the GOP

The GOP is experiencing two painful, traumatic crises right now. As illustrated by comments Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel made today, however, Democrats, risk conflating the two crises. It's a risk because one crisis offers Democrats opportunity; the other poses a serious political threat. Here they are:

  • President Bush's low political and personal popularity
  • The resulting split among Bush's former supporters
Pres. Bush's waning popularity should be a (metaphorical) godsend for the Democrats. But not for all the reasons they might think. Pres. Bush's low popularity, in and of itself, carries zero implications for his political agenda. He honestly doesn't care whether he's popular, or his plans are; he knows he's right, so he'll ram his plans through no matter how unpopular they are, if he can.

However, whether he can depends on whether he has support in Congress. And Bush's support in Congress is waning just as fast (now) as his popular support is. This is good news in the short term for Democrats hoping to block Bush's legislative agenda between now and next November.

But this is bad news for Democrats next November -- and therefore potentially bad news for all of us after next November.

Here's what Hagel said on Sunday's Face the Nation about Iraq:

The longer American troops stay there, the more attractive we are as targets and excuses for insurgents and Sunnis.
And here's what he said about Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers:

One other point I'd make, this nonsense about sexism and elitism. The fact is, this is an elite group of individuals. The fact is, we want an elite group of individuals. I'm not so sure I want my next-door neighbor, as much as I like him or her, to be on the Supreme Court because they're nice people.
Hagel's comments on Iraq are, of course, nothing new. And many bloggers before me have pointed out that Democrats have already ceded to Republicans what should have been the Excalibur of 2006 and 2008 -- that Bush botched the war by its execution and very initiation.

But Hagel's comments about Miers -- specifically, about elitism -- suggest that things are even worse for Democrats than we feared. Republicans are now championing elitism. Hagel didn't just cop to practicing elitism, he explained quickly and convincingly why elitism is a necessary and desireable part of the process.

This is a value that should, on the face of it, be obvious. Elitism is, essentially, betterism. Better is good. Doesn't seem like that should be a tough argument. But now, Democrats have let Republicans become the defenders of that most liberal sentiment: Elitism.

Pres. Bush's low popularity should have given Democrats a tool to block bad legislation. And it has. But Democrats have missed the point of why it's a tool to block bad legislation. It's a tool to block bad legislation because Democrats can use the consent of congressional Republicans to tie them to Bush in 2006 and 2008.

That's why the GOP split poses a threat to the Democrats. If Democrats allow the GOP to split from Bush -- on faith issues over Miers, on fiscal issues over the deficit, on martial issues over Iraq -- they'll have lost the one thing they had to hit Republicans with at election time: Their complicity with Bush.

By allowing Republicans to take the lead now in criticizing Bush, by failing to point out the hypocrisy of such Republican critiques, Democrats are forfeiting their ability to hold Republicans accountable for their empowerment and defense of Bush. If they don't get their act together soon, they'll have willingly, if unwittingly, laid down the best weapon they had to fight back.

And without it, we all stand a greater chance that Republicans will maintain their grip in 2006, and even 2008, perpetuating the effects of their bad policies. And if that happens, the country loses again, and Bush wins one final time.

12 comments:

Emma said...

You hit the nail on the head, Larsen. The problem of how to exploit the split in the Republican party without forcing the opposition into a seemingly solid block against us. For now it seems as though leading Dems have taken a watch and wait attitude. And I have to agree - for the moment.

Come 2006 and 2008 it will still be possible to link the most egregious issues with the Republican Party. A failed economy, a money pit war, rising fuel costs, pork projects that enrich the few and make the middle class pay, etc.

One point needs to be made by the Democratic party, and one I feel is more important than all the others to average American citizens; Bush may not have raised taxes on the middle class, but he is cutting important tax deductions that will ultimately create higher tax bills for working Americans. A devious and nasty way of raising taxes without actually doing so.

Remember: It's the economy, stupid!

Anonymous said...

<< That's why the GOP split poses a threat to the Democrats. >>

Great "digging." Well, this observation WOULD have been great digging... except that Rush Limbaugh has been saying this very same thing on air, every morning, for the past week and a half.

But still, it's nice that you caught on. :)

Petty Larseny said...

Anonymous, if Limbaugh really made these observations a week and a half ago about remarks Chuck Hagel made this Sunday, I've clearly underestimated the man. Or the predictive power of pharmaceuticals...

Anonymous said...

(sigh) Let me try to make this easier for you to follow.

<< if Limbaugh really made these observations a week and a half ago about remarks Chuck Hagel made this Sunday, I've clearly underestimated the man. Or the predictive power of pharmaceuticals... >>

All I was pointing out was, Limbaugh has been saying that what the Democrats perceive as "splits in the GOP" actually pose a great threat to the Democrats. He's been saying this for a week and a half... maybe two weeks now. Before you, anyway.

As for your "pharmaceuticals" dig... nice. Now should I make commments about Clinton's blowjob LIES? Or should I go back as far as Kennedy and Chappaquiddick? Maybe some Ike jokes, Mr. Contemporary?

Petty Larseny said...

You can go back as far as you like. I'm not sure why you'd go back at all, however. I didn't. I made a remark about the person who was under discussion -- Rush Limbaugh. And if you want me to address the provenance of the broader thesis that the GOP split might very well aid the Republicans next year, I don't recall making a claim to have originated the thesis. So I'm not sure what the point is of merely identifying the fact that the topic is not a new one.

Anonymous said...

<< You can go back as far as you like. I'm not sure why you'd go back at all, however. I didn't. I made a remark about the person who was under discussion -- Rush Limbaugh. And if you want me to address the provenance of the broader thesis that the GOP split might very well aid the Republicans next year, I don't recall making a claim to have originated the thesis. So I'm not sure what the point is of merely identifying the fact that the topic is not a new one. >>

(Yawn) Dear GOD, are you this tedious in real life? "Provenance?" Christ, you must be fun to hang with.

Anonymous said...

<< I'm not sure why you'd go back at all, however. I didn't. I made a remark about the person who was under discussion -- Rush Limbaugh.>>

Um, YEAH, ya did "go back." You referenced Rush's former addiction to pain kilers. Old, dead news. What's next... your impression of Billy Crystal saying, "You look mahvalous." ?

Anonymous said...

<< So I'm not sure what the point is of merely identifying the fact that the topic is not a new one. >>

Because...you seem to want to paint yourself as someone who "digs up" information and then formulates clever, original conclusions - not someone who regurgitates observations already made by others.

Hopefully, now you ARE sure what the point was of my comment. Hope I cleared that up for you.

Petty Larseny said...

I'm sorry to hear that I seem to want to paint myself as you describe me. I had hoped my inclusion of the following passage would make me seem to want to paint myself as specifically acknowledging the existence of observations already made by others:

"Hagel's comments on Iraq are, of course, nothing new. And many bloggers before me have pointed out that Democrats have already ceded to Republicans what should have been the Excalibur of 2006 and 2008 -- that Bush botched the war by its execution and very initiation."

ceej said...

To anonymous:

Dude, you seem really angry. "Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will...."

Anonymous said...

<< Dude, you seem really angry. >>

Nope. Not angry at all. My guys control the White House, the House and the Senate. And the Supreme court keeps heading more and more to the right. So, why would I be angry? I'm not angry at all. I just think the "dude" (to use your word) who runs this website is a douche bag who thinks pretentious writing is good writing.

Observant? Sure. On target? Absolutely. Angry? Nah.

ceej said...

Anonymous, I am intrigued by your party loyalty. Can you give me an example of some revelation or event that would shake this loyalty? Nothing too extreme, of course, something relatively close to the threshold for making you reassess.

Regarding the Supreme Court, I don't think you can say it is moving to the right -- I don't see evidence that Roberts is to the right of Rehnquist, or Miers is to the right of O'Connor.

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