Skip to comments.Bush's great fear: Three little words
Posted on 09/10/2006 11:18:23 AM PDT by freespirited
For an idea of the upheaval that may be about to overtake Congress, just three words suffice: Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
This is no denigration of the member for California's 8th District in the House of Representatives.
She is as competent, ambitious and driven a politician as they come. But nothing would so perfectly symbolize the twilight of a conservative era as a House led by a woman with a near-perfect liberal voting record from the great city of San Francisco, a place that lives in Republican mythology as Sodom and Gomorrah made flesh.
And the chances right now are that it will happen. America's mid-term elections, in which all 435 House seats and a third of the Senate are at stake, are just two months away. A new poll found the party leading 53 percent to 43 percent in a generic vote for Congress, while Democrats are set to gain several state governorships as well. Rarely have the stars been as favorably aligned -- an unpopular president, an equally unpopular foreign war, a stumbling economy, above all the pervasive mood that the present lot have been in power too long, and that it's time for a change.
America has been here before. The irresistible parallel is with the midterms of 1994, the year of the Republican Revolution led by Newt Gingrich -- exuberant, iconoclastic and ruthless in equal measure -- that stunned Democrats who had taken control of Congress for granted. For the first time in 130 years, a sitting speaker was voted out, and then President Clinton was obliged to declare that despite everything he was still "relevant" to how the country was run.
That year the Republicans gained a net 53 seats and seized control of the House, which they have not relinquished to this day. Then as now, national discontent with Congress was enormous. Then as now, the feeling was strong that power had corrupted the incumbent party. Then as now, an overwhelming majority -- more than 70 percent of Americans -- felt the country was "on the wrong track." In 1994, "angry voters" who turned out en masse decided matters. The same is on the cards in 2006.
There are differences, of course. Sensing the national mood, Gingrich came up 12 years ago with a "Contract With America," a catchy 10-point program that claimed to be a conservative manifesto for government. In 2006, Democrats have produced nothing as ambitious.
The nearest equivalent is "The Plan: Big Ideas for America," written by two former Clinton advisers.
One of them is Rahm Emanuel, arguably the contemporary Democrat who most resembles Gingrich. Opinionated, fast talking and fiercely partisan, Emanuel is now a member of Congress for a Chicago district, and widely tipped as the next majority whip, the ruling party's third-ranking post in Congress, should the Democrats win Nov. 7. But even he would not pretend that the book, more of a treatise than a pamphlet, has all the answers.
Nor could it, given the rifts in Democratic ranks. The party is united above all in its yearning to evict the Republicans from power. The party is split on Iraq, divided on the crucial domestic issue of immigration and torn between a left wing that insists the party has not been liberal enough and centrists who yearn for a return to the Clinton strategy of compromise and moderation, the Third Way.
The other big difference is the widespread re-drawing of congressional districts; gerrymandering by another name. Redistricting is nothing new, but computer technology has refined it to a previously unimaginable degree. Districts are now sculpted to the smallest street, all in the interests of making incumbents safe.
As a result, congressional elections have in some respects become a travesty of democracy. A swing in seats from one party to the other on the 1994 scale is simply inconceivable. Of the 435 House seats, only 40-odd at the very most are genuinely competitive. Nonetheless, Charles Cook and Stuart Rothenberg, two of America's most respected and non-partisan analysts of congressional politics, reckon that the Democrats are on course to make a net gain of 15 to 20 House seats, perhaps a few more -- and, in any case, enough for victory.
The Senate is more problematic. Republicans now control the upper chamber by 55 to 45 (there are 44 Democrats and one independent who invariably votes with them). In the event of a tie, Dick Cheney, the vice president, casts the deciding vote. To capture control, Democrats must gain six seats among the 33 up in 2006.
Five are eminently doable, in Pennsylvania, Montana, Rhode Island, Missouri and Ohio. But a sixth would mean a win in Arizona, Virginia or Tennessee, all three solid Republican territory. And to secure even that narrowest of victories, Democrats would have to hang on to all of their own seats contested this year. A Democratic Senate for the 110th Congress is possible, both Rothenberg and Cook say, but as matters stand, it is distinctly unlikely.
And do not count the Republicans out. The tide, both presidential and congressional, may be running against them. But the Republicans tend to be better financed and better organized than their rivals. And to beat off the Democratic attack, they have already devised a double defense. They plan to beat the terror drum as loudly as possible. Second, and simultaneously, close races will be depicted as contests between two candidates to be judged on their own individual merits, rather than as part of a national referendum on President Bush.
The White House did not even wait for the traditional campaign kick-off on Labor Day to launch Part 1 of the GOP strategy. Iraq might be in chaos and the economy showing signs of foundering, but Americans still give the president a narrow edge in his handling of the terror threat. As the country whiled away the last lazy days of August, Bush, Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld were making high-profile speeches, likening the "Islamo-fascist" terrorist menace of today to the Nazi peril of the 1930s and implying that Democrats are appeasers.
Indeed, listeners to Rumsfeld's speech last week to a veterans convention in Salt Lake City could be forgiven for imagining that Neville Chamberlain had risen from the grave to lead the Democrats into battle. As proof of this thesis, Republicans point to the shock defeat of Sen. Joe Lieberman, a staunch supporter of the Iraq war, by an anti-war candidate in last month's Democratic primary in Connecticut. What more evidence was needed that the party of Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy had surrendered its soul to bloggers, lefties and peaceniks?
Such tactics worked in 2002 and 2004, but they may not do so again. Bush aides scrambled to claim an administration hand in the foiling of Britain's terror plot last month and the president's approval ratings duly improved.
But they quickly fell back to 40 percent or less. They might bounce back with Monday's fifth anniversary of 9/11, whose immediate aftermath was Bush's finest hour.
But unlike the congressional Democrats in 2002, or John Kerry two years later, this time party leaders will not turn the other cheek to such criticism. "The key on national security is, every time they hit us, strike back strongly and hard," says New York Sen. Charles Schumer, in charge of the party's 2006 Senate campaign.
Most important, Americans no longer buy the White House line that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror. There could yet be an "October Surprise," an out-of-the-blue event -- another terrorist attack, say, or less plausibly a dramatic improvement on the ground in Iraq. But for Republicans, these are slender straws to clutch at.
No less ominously, the economy is turning against the Republicans. After almost five years of solid expansion, growth is slowing and consumer spending is weakening; if the gloomiest forecasts are right, a collapse in the housing market could lead to recession next year.
The Bush tax cuts have overwhelmingly favored the rich. Ordinary "middle-class" Americans are worried about jobs and pay. This, too, spells trouble for the incumbent party. It is no coincidence that many of the most vulnerable Republican-held seats in the House are in old industrial states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois, where such economic worries are greatest.
A Democratic capture of the House -- even of the Senate as well -- will not resolve these problems. Rather, the U.S. would be back where it has spent much of the past 40 years, with a divided government, and the certain prospect that this president would veto any controversial measure sent him by a Democratic Congress. The upshot would be more, rather than less, legislative gridlock.
But even partial defeat for Republicans would hasten the end of the Bush era. Almost every president is a lame duck in his final two years, as the battle to succeed him grips the national attention. But this one's abysmal approval ratings mean he would be virtually a dead duck. Finally, too, his policies would come under the scrutiny by Capitol Hill committees that have been shamefully absent since 2002, when the Democrats lost a narrow majority in the Senate. Such, until January 2009 at least, may be Washington's improbable age of Nancy Pelosi.
Rupert Cornwell writes for The Independent in Britain.
LOL. Sunday morning humor.
The author must be using one of the lesser-known meanings of the word "competent". You know, the one that means "not competent"...
I don't believe these predictions, but I think we should pray fervently nonetheless.
She's AMbitious and she's Driven but Competent??? LOL!!
"Rupert Cornwell writes for The Independent in Britain."
The Independent outdoes the rest of the British press in its raw hatred of the US and its promotion of the muslim line.
Muslim agent Robert Fisk writes for The Independent.
I guess if Pelosi becomes Speaker its a sure thing Bush gets impeached. It would seem there would be no way to stop it since dems vote as a block.
I clicked on this thread thinking the three words would be "veto", "immigration" and "conservatism".
Bush's great fear: Three little words............
oops, I sharted...........
If Dems take the House, they will surely move to impeach. But this is why, in the end, they will not take the House, or even come close. When voters go in to the booth and must pull the lever for a Dem, more will balk than the pundits believe. Dems will pick up 6-8 seats; that's all. Only 2-3 in the Senate. We shouldn't be complacent, but Santorum will keep PA and Talent will win in MO. The other swing Senate seats I'm less sure, but the odds are that the Dems will take 3 max. The Republicans are close to even money in NJ, and would be odds on favorites were it not for the tendency for Dems in that State to pick up votes out of nowhere.
"She is as competent, ambitious and driven a politician as they come."
She is as INcompetent, ambitious and driven a politician as they come.
The hate filled liberals and their media are too stupid to understand how fatal is Nancy Pelosi for them once she is exposed to the American public.
Dream on, Rupert!
>>Rarely have the stars been as favorably aligned
MSM using astrology now?
"driven" ==> Driving the country out of existence
Last time I checked, we were Americans....LOL....These people are ludicrous.
"She is as competent, ambitious and driven a politician as they come."
Technicaly a true statement. But there is absolutly NO correlation between a "competent, ambitious and driven politician" to someone who is intelligent, thoughtful and wise.
Imagine trying to get 40 people out of todays Congress with anywhere near the "intelligent, thoughtful and wise" minds of the original signers.
Or, then again, it may not. But, there was a full moon a couple days ago and it may have affected some editorial writers.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.