Republican pessimism for 2008
Now Republicans are starting to make similar noises, openly worrying about the damage Bush and Iraq will do to them in the 2008 elections.
In interviews on Tuesday, the Republicans said they were concerned about signs of despondency among party members and fund-raisers, reflected in polls and the Democratic fund-raising advantage in the first quarter of the year. Many party leaders expressed worry that the party’s presidential candidates faced a tough course without some fundamental shift in the political dynamic.
“My level of concern and dismay is very, very high,” said Mickey Edwards, a Republican former congressman from Oklahoma who is now a lecturer in public policy at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton. “It’s not that I have any particular problem with the people who are running for the Republican nomination. I just don’t know how they can run hard enough or fast enough to escape the gravitational pull of the Bush administration.”
This on a day when John "Gaffe" McCain is trimming headquarters staff and trying to revitalize his candidacy -- by once again highlighting his support for the Iraq war.
Yeah, that'll work.
The story notes several things working against the Republicans besides Iraq:
1. That Democratic fundraising advantage is huge -- $78 million to $51 million.
2. The spectacle of the GOP frontrunners -- moderates as far as Republicans go -- transparently altering long-held positions in an attempt to appeal to the conservative base.
3. A general exhaustion after eight years of Republican rule.
All of the above is causing more and more people to identify themselves as Democrats. The shine may wear off of that over the next two years, but for now the momentum favors the Democrats.
It also appears that the politics of "wedge issues" may finally be exacting a toll on the party that invented them.
Alan K. Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming, said the party’s presidential candidates were being whipsawed as they tried to appeal to conservative voters who have a history of strong views on issues like abortion and gay rights. “These tests are destroying the Republican Party,” Mr. Simpson said.
Lord, one can hope so. Not to see the GOP destroyed, but to see such "tests" abandoned.
Abortion and gay rights, while legitimate issues, are not the sort of issues that are likely to ever be settled at the ballot box, turning as they do on rights rather than statute. Even if you hold strong views on those subjects, you're bound to get tired of having them dragged out time and again and forcing elections to focus on them without ever solving them, while more relevant and substantive -- and solvable -- issues are pushed to the side.
I hope the GOP gets at least some of its act together by 2008. My personal dream scenario would be the Dems winning the White House but losing one chamber of Congress -- say, the House. That would give Democrats control of policy initiatives (not to mention confirmation proceedings), while forcing them to deal with Republicans on legislation -- particularly budget legislation. I think that would be a recipe for compromise, with gridlock as a not-too-bad fallback position.
Labels: general politics