Skip to comments.Fred Barnes: The Bush Factor (What the president has done for his party)
Posted on 03/21/2005 1:42:58 PM PST by RWR8189
PRESIDENT BUSH DID NOT INITIATE the political realignment that made Republicans a majority party. But he has helped create the current moment of opportunity for Republicans to enact a far-reaching conservative agenda. Absent Bush, Republicans might not have 55 senators--which they also had in 1997, but otherwise their greatest number since 1930--which was enough to approve oil-drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge last week and to enact bankruptcy reform the week before. Both measures had failed repeatedly in recent years.
Five factors have come together to give Republicans their best chance for major legislative and foreign policy achievements in nearly 80 years. And Bush has been crucial to each one.
The first factor is, obviously, the Republican ascendancy. Bush had only a little to do with the breakthrough election in 1994, when Republicans won the Senate, House, and a majority of governorships (including that of Texas, where Bush became governor). Nor did he aid Republicans much in 2000 when he won the presidency but not the popular vote.
But in the midterm election of 2002 and last year's presidential contest, Bush campaigned aggressively for Republican congressional candidates. And Republicans picked up seats. Many Republican challengers might have won anyway, but not all. Either his campaigning or his coattails were critical to Senate victories for Saxby Chambliss in Georgia, Mel Martinez in Florida, and David Vitter in Louisiana. The Bush landslide in Alaska helped Sen. Lisa Murkowski keep her seat. And, of course, Bush's own reelection was necessary for Republican rule.
Factor two: Democratic disarray. Nothing drives Democrats to distraction--and to demagoguery--the way Bush does. He brings out the worst in them. If Bush wants something, they're reflexively and often mindlessly against it. They chose the shrill Howard Dean as national chairman, and he insists Republicans in general and Bush in particular are "evil." Senate minority leader Harry Reid says the Bush gang seeks "absolute power." And so on.
Worse for Democrats, Bush makes them delusional. Sen. Edward Kennedy claims that while Democrats lost the 2004 election, they still represent "majority opinion." And he appears to believe it. Others, like Democratic representative Maurice Hinchey of New York, spin conspiracy theories, in public, about the Bush White House and Karl Rove, Bush's political adviser. The conspiracy? Rove slipped those fabricated memos to CBS News, which led to Dan Rather's downfall and Bush's reelection. Really.
The CBS scandal leads to factor three, the crackup of the mainstream media. The MSM--the big papers, TV networks, and newsmags--had been slipping for years. Their role as gatekeepers, deciding what was or wasn't news, was a thing of the past. In the 1990s, the arrival of talk radio and Fox News meant there was a popular alternative media. In 2004, bloggers emerged as a nation of fact-checkers whose chief target was the MSM.
Bloggers exposed the CBS story on Bush's Texas Air National Guard service as a fraud almost instantly. Just as important, they forced a reluctant mainstream media to take up the story of the Swift Boat Vets and their challenge of John Kerry's claim to have been a Vietnam war hero. Studies found that the national media were lopsidedly more favorable to Kerry than Bush in their coverage. But Bush won, which tells you something about Big Media's loss of influence.
Factor four: the decline of liberalism. No one has described liberalism's sad state better than Martin Peretz, editor in chief of the New Republic. Liberalism is no longer a serious set of ideas. Nor is it a coherent ideology used to guide political action. In 2005, it has become merely a complaint, Peretz suggested, a complaint about Bush and much of America.
And, finally, factor five: an ambitious, impatient president with an agenda. In a word, Bush. Presidents have a choice. They can lead or they can govern. President George H.W. Bush governed. His son leads. He does what he doesn't have to do. Or at least tries to. So Bush aims to reform Social Security, curb trial lawyers, make the federal courts more conservative, and implant democracy all over the world.
These five factors have produced a rare political moment for Republicans. It's a moment that won't last more than a year or two. The question is whether they'll do anything with it. Nothing is guaranteed. But a lot is expected.
Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.
Good piece. The ones who won't support anyone but the Perfect (Imaginary) Conservative Republican seem to think that all that has to be done is to let Republicans lose an election and they will be replaced with Perfect Conservatives. But politics is far more complicated than that, and we are lucky to have W. He's achieved more than almost any R could have, through an amazing mix of the ability to choose one's fights and the ineptitude of the opposition.
I'm still waiting for the "smaller Federal government" to show up. At this point, even the one Clinton and Gore talked about would be a welcome sight.
Peole wonder why Bill Clinton did not try to enact a liberal agenda. The reason is pretty simple. From 1992 until 2000 the times were good and the nation was secure. When that is the case the voters do not want change. Clinton who used Dick Morris's polling to document public opinion, understood the voters did not want change. Clinton did not try to change things.
Today on both the economic and foreign policy fronts, there are problems. When the voters perceive problems, they want them fixed. That is they want change.
In this situation a smart politican proposes fixes. In the 1990s the problems were few and small, now they are many and large. That means the public wants the problems fixed. That is why Bush is proposing and in some cases inacting change.
The Demorats having witnessed the Republicans in the 1990s achieveing success by pushing the status quo, are doing the same thing. They mistakenly believe the voters will reward those that stand in the way of change.
If the Democrats and the MSM portrayed the situation as good and getting better, they could oppose the Bush agenda and get voter support. But when they constantly point out un resolved problems and then try to stop the presidnet from fixing them, they are prescribing their own defeat.
Someone needs to write a book "Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Strategy" or "How to get everything wrong!"
The Democrats experience history, they just don't understand it.
Bush hasn't been much of a President. I am afraid history will look back at him as having been a disaster. His war in Iraq has caused rogue nations to try to develope nukes and arm up with Russian help in fear of another Bush preventive strike.
Meanwhile China and Russia build up their militaries.
We have few friends left in the world.
and when history looks back it will show he only won reelection because the democrats ran bozo the hippy vietnam protester clown.
Uuummmm, OK, whatever...
Liberals continue to lose because for one thing, they're the biggest pessimists around. Here we live in the richest country in the world with unlimited opportunities for those with ability to do so, and the witless Dems try to convince Americans that most of us are poor, starving, oppressed peons with no prospects for bettering ourselves and no legal recourse when we are wronged. And insisting that only about one percent of Americans live good...off the sweat and toil of the 99% indigent Americans who must work three jobs to live in hovels and eat gruel. They are basically trying to convince the American public of the lie that life in the U.S. for the average American is awful. That's why they continue their descent into the swamp.
Your just sold on the White House talking points.
Remember how great the democrats thought Clinton was.
Now , a little more than 4 years later we all can see
how his policies led to 911.
The Bush war on Iraq and terrorism has caused a major inbalance in world power unseed since WW1. The results
are not going to be pretty. But we did send an amatuer to the White House with Dick Cheney as his wise councel.
Somebody is using talking points...
We fight terrorism to defend America and what it stand for an you call "unbalance" in world power. If you want to call the destruction of the terrorist brutal regimes of the Middle East as unbalance of power that we need to do more unbalance. If you call the march of freedom and democracy in the Middle East as unbalance then we are very proud of making this unbalance.
That's not even English.
Iran has been trying to develop nukes ever since the fall of the Shah. North Korea started to develop nukes again about 3 weeks after they Clinton and Jimmy Carter bribed them not to do so. Libia quit developing anything except the lips to kiss Bush's rump.
Germany was enemy for most of the first half of the 20th century. East Germany was our enemy for most of the second half of the century. France wasn't much of a friend in WWII or after. We had to fight the French Government in North Africa in WWII. The only thing the French have been good at is suppling females so German Soldiers could make half French babies.
The Chinese have been our enemy since Mao took over after WWII and Russia doesn't have enough of an economy to challenge us much of anywhere. George W. Bush lets Putin spout off for his own nations consumption, but Russia does not have the economy to do much of anything... except Black Market US Software. Clinton attacked the Russians long term friend's in Kosovo and all Russia could do about it was pout.
The only things the Germans and French have done successfully in the last 100 years is surrender.
A great nations contemporaries never love them. They fear and respect them.
I am a Reagan conservative , been posting here off and on for years.
Once again , I don't hear anything from anyone except talking points.
The War in Afghanistan handled the terrorist and sent the proper warning without upsetting the balance of power in the world. The war in Iraq has sent us down a slippery slope.
(The Bush war on Iraq and terrorism has caused a major inbalance in world power unseed since WW1.)
Dear Democrat: Mark my word - George W. Bush will be shown by History to be one of the best Presidents America has ever had.
More than the war on terror, the US's major shift in foreign policy from a policy of promoting stability (by coddling unpopular dictators) to one of promoting democracy, is shifting the anger of people in the Middle East from the United States to their own tyrants.
You folks are talking point heads unable to see the forest for the trees who would follow anything , no matter how bad , as long as it comes with some great talking points handed down from a gifted political operator like Rove.
I voted for Bush 92
Check my previous posts and you will see , I am no liberal or libertarian.
Bush is just too liberal and has a bad foreign policy & wraps himself with social issues (that I agree on) in order to get the GOP to swallow down the his crap.
Democrats should love Bush.
Bush is a good dude, but for heaven sake, someone tell him to start proposing spending cuts. Hopefully, by doing that, he will not only decrease the size of government, but also cause all liberal leaders to die of either heart attacks or massive strokes.
Spending cuts indeed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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