Monday, November 06, 2006

Economist: Repubs Must Learn By Mistakes

The Economist
has a short primer why the Repubs have not lived up to the task of maintaining their hold on government.
The Republicans' unpopularity is inextricably linked with that of Mr Bush. Voters who loathe him would obviously prefer a Democratic Congress to curb him. But more significantly, in electoral terms, many of those who voted for him in 2004 now wonder if unified Republican government is such a good thing. If these wavering Republicans either switch sides or stay at home on polling day, the party they once backed will get a thrashing.

There are many reasons why they have become disillusioned by Mr Bush's party, but two stand out. When the Republicans have stuck by their principles, they have done so incompetently. And in too many areas that matter to their natural supporters, such as fiscal prudence, they have not stuck by their principles at all. Add to this toxic cocktail repeated shots of scandal, from Abu Ghraib to Mark Foley, a Republican congressman who exchanged salacious e-mails with adolescent pages online, and the wonder is that their ratings are not even lower.

Iraq is the prime example of a principled policy, poorly executed. It is also the issue that will hurt the Republicans most at the polls, because they have steadily lost the confidence of those who, at first, supported the invasion.

This was a gradual process. Although no stockpiles of chemical weapons were found in Iraq, many Americans knew that Saddam Hussein had used them before, and believed he would have built them up again had sanctions been lifted. To many, replacing an odious tyranny with something resembling a democracy seemed a good enough reason for ousting him.

The last time Americans went to the polls, in 2004, 52% of them still thought that invading Iraq had been the right thing to do. Now only 40% do, and only one in five thinks America is winning the struggle there. Some doubtless assume this is because Iraqis are incapable of democratic self-government, but many blame bungling by their own side.

Better-informed American voters ask why Mr Bush's representatives in Iraq let looters gut Baghdad, why they sacked the civil servants who knew how to operate the electricity grid, and why they disbanded the army. The less well informed have a less detailed—but no less definite—impression of failure. They probably have not heard that the first name proposed for a reconstituted Iraqi army, the New Iraqi Corps, when abbreviated to NIC, means "fuck" in Arabic. But they do know that, three and a half years after apparent boasts of victory, there are still a lot of American troops in Iraq, and the place looks an utter mess on the evening news.

Iraq looks like a mess partly because the Evening News on the ultra-left Broadcast networks in the US and UK seek out every one of the unfortunately many mishaps occurring in Iraq. But it must also be said that the Iraqis have not had a good track record for self-government since Helagu demolished Baghdad in 1258 AD, and now corruption vies with religious and ethnic hatreds for breaking down whatever hopes for a normal life this country has. But the corrosive acids of the ultra-left media neglect what pockets of progress that do occur, and the ulcerous results are eating away the lining of political discourse in the USA. [metaphor alert!]

Although Iraq remains the signature poster-boy for this administration's failures to execute and administer its policies, the Economist article goes on at great length to pillory some of the large sins of omission, misplaced priorities, and general earmark madness the Republican "reformers" ushered in during the 1994 upset have inflicted upon US citizenry. Even the low unemployment rate and rapid economic growth has failed to trickle down to the average Joe, with high-net-worth individuals raking in the big bucks and hard-working illegal immigrants fighting the burger-flipping lower classes for a minimum-wage job.

My own personal view is that, while GWB may be charming and even politically astute, he is by no stretch of imagination an inspirational leader and certainly not well-rounded in either foreign policy or domestic areas that may generate an intangible aura of competence or trustworthiness. His garbled syntax may have a folksy charm, but he rarely expresses a thought that is not simply a cliche or standard right-wing groupthink.

Bush has been blessed by having opponents so incompetent and ridiculous that even a left-wing media can't avoid remarking on Pelosi's SF New Ageism, Dean's maniacal misteps, Gore's crack-brained imbecilities, and Kerry's unctuous self-absorbed inanities. If Bush were running against a fellow with Clinton's charisma and brains, minus his personal foibles, the Dems would have romped in '00 or '04. But Bush is lucky, and that counts for more than being smart---unless your eminences grises are Rumsfeld and Cheney, and then you are in danger of being manipulated into disasters. I believe GWB has to show Rumsfeld the door at the earliest opportunity to maintain any credibility. The serial, chronic, recidivist strategic and tactical bungling this arrogant desk jockey has inflicted on Iraq policy has been murderous. If Bush doesn't fire him, it isn't through GWB's stubbornness, but because of his wrong-headed stupidity.

The article ends by quoting George Will, who believes the Dems must win this election or "they're in the wrong business."

I'm putting this thought-piece, or rather rant, into my draft file until after the election when I'll dust it off and run it up the flagpole. Did I mention the botched Medicare meds legislation that disallows USG negotiating with Big Pharma?

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