Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Republican pessimism for 2008

I've said before that if Bush doesn't do something to make Iraq a nonissue before the 2008 elections, Republicans will be battling Democrats to be the first to string him up.

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.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am ONE of those dismayed Republicans who is not contributing anything monetarily at this time. But I think you are misinterpreting the reasons. It is NOT because I don't support my President or the war in Iraq. I think I am a typical Republican and here are my two reasons for not engaging monetarily at this time:

1) I am mad at the Republicans who IMHO right now are a bunch of wimps. They are NOT standing up for the President and for themselves like I think they should be. They are NOT going on the offensive politically as I think they should. I'd like to see some backbone.

2) I am holding back because it's too early to make my final choice for who to back as my Presidential nominee. This campaign began way too early, IMHO,---about 1 year earlier than normal.

JP5

4/12/2007 10:17 AM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

I think I am a typical Republican...

In Texas, perhaps. Overall, I think you're more typical of the red-meat conservative base than of Republicans in general.

I am mad at the Republicans who IMHO right now are a bunch of wimps.

This is why I think you're not typical. This particular argument is not being made by a serious number of GOPers. Most prominent Republicans are dismayed by Bush because they think he's harming the party. They're not clamoring to back him up for a simple reason: they disagree with him.

I am holding back because it's too early to make my final choice for who to back as my Presidential nominee.

Agreed. Which is why I don't spend much time here writing about the presidential campaigns. It's ridiculously early.

4/12/2007 10:31 AM  

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