Sunday, November 13, 2005

Think He'll Go Eat Worms?

We all knew this already, but it's nice to see the new conventional wisdom taking shape: George Bush's endorsement is the kiss of death. Seriously. We're talking Michael-to-Fredo Corleone kiss of death.

We've already seen plenty of claims suggesting that Bush's involvement in the Virginia gubernatorial race killed Jerry Kilgore's chances there:
Analysts say Kilgore's loss doesn't reflect well on Bush.

"Bush gambled and lost. Now many will say that this is further evidence of the political weakness of the president," said George Mason University professor Mark Rozell. "Sometimes life is all about timing, and unfortunately for Kilgore this election coincided with the low point of the Bush presidency. He could not control that, of course. But aligning himself closely to Bush at the last minute probably helped to mobilize anti-Bush voters, who are much more numerous today than pro-Bush voters. For the short term, the GOP can rightly worry about the meaning of this result."
And now we're seeing the same claims in New Jersey:
It's all George W. Bush's fault.

Doug Forrester, in his first postelection interview, laid the blame for his loss in the governor's race last week directly at the feet of President Bush. He said the public's growing disaffection with Bush, especially after Hurricane Katrina, made it impossible for his campaign to overcome the built-in advantage Democrats have in a blue state like New Jersey.
Personally, I think the argument is overblown. Forrester got his clock cleaned in the Senate race last time around, and didn't seem to be winning over New Jersey's Democratic-leaning voters this time. Kaine, meanwhile, got to ride the coattails of the popular Democratic incumbent in Virginia. Bush certainly didn't help the Republican candidates in those races, but I think it's just the last throes of these campaigns that are suggesting that Bush was the only reason they failed.

Of course, reality doesn't matter in politics, only perceptions. For years, Bush has been given a free pass in the press and an easy road in Congress because everyone has assumed he was a King Midas whose touch turned everything to gold. Well, now the script has been flipped and we're seeing the new theme out there that everything Bush touches turns to shit. (Personally, I find this one more convincing, but that's just me. And reality.)

In terms of the political consequences, this perception means that Republicans are going to be running away from Bush faster than he ran from the draft in Vietnam. What's more, with both the House and Senate leadership in disarray, we're going to see more and more of an every-man-for-himself attitude in the GOP. (We're already seeing it, in fact, with the House leadership unable to pass a budget due to the moderates' revolt and the Senate flailing on the torture issue.)

As the midterms approach, this is only going to get worse for the GOP. Republican incumbents will be faced by independent-minded challengers in their primaries, and then credible Democratic opposition in the main election. Democrats, meanwhile, should be able to nationalize the election into a referendum on the current crop of Republicans in Washington and turn this into a campaign to clean house.

The only real question left is: When Bush sees the Democrats take back one or both houses of Congress, and the impeachment rumors start flying for real, which of his father's friends will buy the White House to bail him out?


Thrillhous said...

At this point I don't think any of daddy's friends could bail him out. His only chance is if some of the terrorists he repeatedly fails to capture do another major attack. which of course will be the democrat's fault.

Smitty said...

1) Perfect picture. It reminds me of Wile E. Coyote, just before he blows up....he ghets that about-to-cry look and waves a little white flag. Perfect.

2) It's interesting that here in Michigan, the Republican guvenatoral challenger, Dick DeVos (his dad started Amway) is already putting out press statements that separate him from the Bush camp, and this guy is one of the Uber-Republicans. Our electiuon isn't until next year, but he is already distancing himself from Bush. I'll look for some online clippings to post.

Thrillhous said...

THat's interesting, Smitty. Seems to me this would be a great time to get GOP officials and hopefuls to go on the record with their thoughts about the admin and the general state of things in DC. Make them squirm.

ORF said...

I suspect this has a lot of weight, and will become especially effective by next year's Congressional elections. Personally, my SINGLE hesitation in voting for Bloomberg last week was that he was a member of the same party as Bush. I don't generally have trouble voting across party lines, although I do tend to vote Dem, but really, Bloomie's affiliation with Dubya was halting for me. I think a lot of people felt that way, but Bloomberg's success in the city won out over Ferrer's general loser-ness.

By the way, thanks for the link love, y'all :)

Otto Man said...

I know what you mean about Bloomberg and Ferrer. I tell myself that Bloomberg was once a Dem and he still really is. That helps me sleep at night. Well, that and the booze.