Skip to comments.Bush's Trouble Ahead
Posted on 11/06/2004 8:47:22 PM PST by neverdem
GUEST OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
Washington While President Bush would like to think that the voters gave him a mandate last Tuesday to push his "compassionate conservative" agenda through Congress, the wish may well be father to the thought. The truth of the matter is that barring such virtual clean sweeps as Richard Nixon's re-election in 1972 and Ronald Reagan's in 1984, political mandates are usually in the eye of the beholder. And there is no certainty that the Republican Party will remain unified when the choice is not between Mr. Bush and a Democrat, but between accepting or rejecting his policies and proposals.
Yes, the president did better than many expected and, yes, he picked up 51 percent of the popular vote, winning by about 3.5 million votes and carrying 31 states. That was a good and unchallengeable victory, made more so by the narrowness of his margin in 2000. But still, his real margin of victory was not much greater than it was in 2000; then, needing 270 electoral votes, he received 271; this time he received 286, not exactly an overwhelming victory.
The president and his people are deluding themselves if they think his victory signified general approval of his record, even within the Republican Party. It was fear of Senator John Kerry's liberal record that brought many critical Republicans back into the Bush camp on Election Day even though they were decidedly unhappy with his record of deficit spending, his increases in the size and scope of the federal government, his lax immigration policies and his handling of postwar Iraq.
In reality, the president can thank Republican gains in the Senate and House for giving credibility to his claims of a mandate. The defeat of the Senate minority leader, Tom Daschle of South Dakota, was, next to Mr. Bush's own win, the Republicans' most significant victory. For all his soft-spoken ways and claims of wanting to work with Mr. Bush, Senator Daschle was a consistent, effective and highly partisan obstructionist who blocked not only legislation but also presidential appointments, primarily those of conservative federal judges.
With Mr. Daschle gone and with the addition of four Republican senators giving the party a 10-vote margin in the Senate, Mr. Bush will probably no longer have to contend with Democratic filibusters preventing the Senate from voting on his judicial appointees.
This is especially significant because during the next four years many expect three or perhaps four Supreme Court vacancies. It is a stretch, however, to think that the Senate will view the election results as a mandate for Mr. Bush to appoint whomever he wants to the courts. For one thing, the new Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee will be the liberal and unpredictable Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. And while some may think that Senator Daschle's loss will serve as a warning to Democrats hoping to defy the president, it seems clear that he lost not because of his record of opposition but because he lost touch with his constituents.
Finally, the increased Republican margin in the Senate doesn't automatically assure the president of easy approval for his legislative proposals. He still must contend with half a dozen senators from the party's liberal wing on social and tax issues, and with several small-government conservatives on others. Even in the House, where the Republican margin is greater and the discipline stronger, the president cannot expect a rubber stamp.
Conservatives like Representative Mike Pence of Indiana and his 85 colleagues on the House Study Committee are already girding to protest any spending measures and bills that would increase the size and scope of government. If they get their way, the president's major successes may amount to little more than getting a permanent extension on his tax cuts and making progress toward modernizing Social Security.
This is a long way from an across-the-board mandate. The fact is, such a mandate will come about only if and when the president can figure out how effectively to wield his clout against recalcitrant fellow Republicans or, failing that, prevail on the public to help put the heat on those who otherwise are prepared to buck him on the issues.
Lyn Nofziger was an aide to President Ronald Reagan.
Hear that sucking sound? That's the NYT going down the toilet. Bye-bye, gray lady; hello, cranky old hag!
Maybe yes and maybe no.
Sheesh...sounds like he should be writing for Ron Reagan...
Hmmm. I wonder how much of Thunes $$ came from out of state? I know my 74 year old mom gave money to Thune, just to oust Daschle, and she lives in this state, Alabama, so she is no constituent of Daschle's.
Daschle's defeat had a GREAT DEAL to do with his blocking votes on judicial appointments.
Play the Schwartzenegger sound bite, "Why should I talk to LOOSERS!"
The MSM will help the Donks to deny George Bush a mandate. You ain't heard nothing yet. The MSM will be in full shill mode for Donks same as during the election. It's a permanent war punctuated by election days
Dashle's defeat was aided by Bush/Rove talking Thume into running, lining up financial support for him, sending Frist, Cheney, and others in to campaign, spending Presidential campaign funds there even though the state wasn't in play, and the DNC having a massive GOTV program.
Bush doesn't like people who lie to him. Teddy is next.
Not if we can help it. Don't be counting your chickens before they hatch.
Hey, NYT staff: despite all your Bush-bashing, your side lost.
It must suck to be you.
Teddy is next.
I love it when a plan comes together.
people keep underestimating George Bush and his team. If we go back to one of the earliest "nonpartisan" crisis - that over the downing of our survalence plane off of China, we can see how deftly that was handled in an extremely problematical situation. Whether it has to do with deficits, immigration or post-war iraq, yes there are problems, but i think many greatly underestimate the degree these problems are thought through and when there are mistakes, mid-course corrections are made. if people started with the assumption that maybe his policies are deeply thought out and then there are the inevitable mistakes, they would be closer to the mark imho.
The voters DID give him a mandate, he is going to spend his capital, SO GET USED TO IT.
I hate the NY Times. As far as I'm concerned, they don't exist and I could care less what they print.
It's hell being old enough to remember who Lyn Nofziger is, and then reading the babble on this thread.
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