Pink Is the New Red, and George Is the New Jimmy

With the caveat that I admire Jimmy Carter and generally have a low opinion of Dick Morris, I give you Dick Morris in today’s New York Post:

GEORGE W. Bush is a one- term president now serving deep into his second term. Like his father, he shot his bolt during his first four years. Unlike his dad, he was able to persuade America to keep him around for another term. But he seems destined to spend the remainder of his tenure, à la Nixon, “twisting slowly in the wind.”

Bush has truly become the Republican equivalent of President Jimmy Carter, out of control, dropping in popularity, unable to resume command. He barely skated through 2004 using the issue of terrorism. But his very success in preventing further attacks has eroded the strength of the issue and has undermined its political importance. Tax cuts, the cause celebre of his 2000 campaign, have long since been passed and yielded their economic growth. But they’re long gone as a key issue.

Yet Bush, like his father, fails to invent issues to give his presidency a new lease on life. Is he too tired or lazy to do so? Does he not believe in government doing very much in the first place? Or is he so preoccupied with Iraq – as Carter was with the hostage crisis – that he can’t divert his attention to new issues?

Even when he seeks to develop an issue, his approach is half-hearted and ineffective. It seems that on any issue other than taxes and terrorism, he has attention-deficit disorder. He squandered his re-election “political capital” on a Social Security reform he spent six months pushing and a year and a half running away from.

His energetic denunciation of America’s “oil addiction” animated his State of the Union speech but, by March, it was missing from his rhetoric. It never even got to the stage of a program before he abandoned it. Now he flirts with the immigration issue – seeking a middle course that satisfies nobody.

And so, with no political immune system, he is subject to the infection du jour, be it the Dubai ports deal or the Iraq leaking scandal. In the meantime, his party is wallowing in a massive public perception of congressional corruption.

OK, one more quibble — second paragraph, “But his very success in preventing further attacks has eroded the strength of the issue and has undermined its political importance.” Nonsense. His “accomplishments” in the national security arena are now understood to be more from luck than skill. After Katrina, after the 9/11 Commission flunked his administration on security, it’s too painfully obvious that we remain woefully unprepared for a terrorist attack, which could happen any minute.

So it’s going on six years since 9/11. Big deal. Eight years went by between the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and the 9/11 attacks. (I distinctly remember, sometime in the late 1990s, arguing with some rightie in an online forum that we need to remain concerned about terrorist attacks. I was pooh-poohed.)

Morris goes on to suggest what Bush might do to salvage his second term. Not only are most of these suggestions inane, Bush wouldn’t do them, anyway, so we don’t need to bother about them.

Instead, see “Pink Is the New Red” by Richard Morin at WaPo.

States that were once reliably red are turning pink. Some are no longer red but a sort of powder blue. In fact, a solid majority of residents in states that President Bush carried in 2004 now disapprove of the job he is doing as president. Views of the GOP have also soured in those Republican red states. …

… Of course some states are still dependably Republican. But even these are not quite as red as they were a few years ago. For example, Utah residents showered Bush with 72 percent of their votes in 2004, his biggest win that year. But the latest statewide poll by the Deseret Morning News/KSL-TV suggests that 61 percent approve of the job Bush is doing as president, a double-digit drop in approval since June. “Bush is dragging down every Republican officeholder in the nation, even here,” pollster Dan Jones, a political science professor at the University of Utah, told the Morning News.

On the other hand, states that were blue are now a deeper blue.

Speaking of anger (see previous post), James Carroll writes in today’s Boston Globe,

An Iranian official dismissed the talk of imminent US military action as mere psychological warfare, but then he made a telling observation. Instead of attributing the escalations of threat to strategic impulses, the official labeled them a manifestation of ”Americans’ anger and despair.”

The phrase leapt out of the news report, demanding to be taken seriously. I hadn’t considered it before, but anger and despair so precisely define the broad American mood that those emotions may be the only things that President Bush and his circle have in common with the surrounding legions of his antagonists. We are in anger and despair because every nightmare of which we were warned has come to pass. Bush’s team is in anger and despair because their grand and — to them — selfless ambitions have been thwarted at every turn. Indeed, anger and despair can seem universally inevitable responses to what America has done and what it faces now.

I guess it’s not just us leftie bloggers, huh?

Tom Engelhardt writes,

You can count on one thing. All over Washington, Republicans are at least as capable as I am of watching and interpreting the polling version of the smash-up of the Bush administration. …

… Despite various bumps and plateaus — including a conveniently engineered, Karl Rovian bump just before election 2004 — it’s been a slow, ever-downward path that, in early 2005, dipped decisively under 50%; by the end of 2004 had crossed the 40% threshold; and is, at present, in the mid-30% range.

There’s no reason to believe that the bottom has been reached.

Here’s the juicy part (boldface added):

This is the situation before some future round of hideous polling figures sets off a full-scale panic in the Republican Party, leading possibly to a spreading revolt of the pols that could put the present revolt of the generals in the shade. Given the last couple of years, and what we now know about the Bush administration’s inability to operate within the “reality-based community” (as opposed to spinning it to death), there is no reason to believe that a polling bottom exists for this President, not even perhaps the Nixonian Age of Watergate nadir in the lower 20% range.

If current trends continue, I can foresee a point at which the Republican Party abandons Bush to save itself. We may even see the political marginalization of the neocon-fundie axis that remains what is left of his base. It is possible — not in the cards yet, but possible — that by 2007 the GOP will be frantic to get Bush out of the public eye so that he doesn’t drag down the 2008 elections.

Then Republican leaders will march to the White House and demand that he resign, which I guess would make Bush the new Dick Nixon.

16 thoughts on “Pink Is the New Red, and George Is the New Jimmy

  1. Maha-

    I’m a newbie here, reading your stuff for only a few weeks now. I hope your conclusion is right, but I just don’t see the republicans admitting they might have been wrong about anything…

    I read a piece by science fiction author Dan Simmons (who I’d never heard of before) this morning that left me horrified. Maybe you or some of your readers would appreciate it…

  2. I haven’t read the article, but I wrote here months ago that “Pink is the New Red”.

    I can’t stand Dick Morris. What does he know about family values or anything? Talk about a turncoat!!

    Why do people like him try to drag down a Democrat to prop up their puppet?

  3. I just don’t see the republicans admitting they might have been wrong about anything…

    Oh, they won’t admit they were wrong, exactly, just that Bush disappointed them.

    Similar stuff has happened, and not just to Dick Nixon. The GOP turned on Joe McCarthy (he’d been their fair-haired boy for a time) and delivered him up for slaughter. It was Eisenhower and some other old lions in the party who maneuvered McCarthy into the televised Army-McCarthy hearings, which were his downfall.

    If it comes down to their political survival, they’ll throw George overboard.

  4. An Iranian official dismissed the talk of imminent US military action as mere psychological warfare

    What a nice way to tell Bush he doesn’t have the power to back his big mouth. The Iranians know that America won’t get in line behind Bush because he squandered his credibilty by decieving the American public with his Iraqi debacle. The Iranians should have said, Yo, bro..don’t let your mouth write no checks that your ass can’t cash, dig it.

  5. “61% approval rating in Utah”. What are those people smoking? Oh wait that’s right they believe in polygamy there don’t they? Bushies cannon ball drop is no surprise to me. I like most lefty’s thought the man was an incompetent fool long before Katrina. Hell I have never understood what he did so well after 9-11. He gave a couple of speeches, one in which he used the phrase crusade, not the sharpest knife in the drawer. In fact I honestly can’t think of one lousy policy or action that he has promoted that was good for the country.

  6. Well…I read the Simmons piece…and after a few moments of terror, I remembered it’s called fiction. Having lived through the “cold war” where we were sure the communists would nuke us in our sleep then take over the country (RedDawn)…I realized that there are forces in the world that prevent insanity. The time travelers story forgets that there are one billion chinese, a billion Indians? We have all found ways of living together without conquest and invasion…I suspect that we will indeed be in a “hundred year ” war with radicals, but a call to go “all in” would be insanity on our part.

  7. I live in gloriously blue California, but recently attended an internet hosting seminar put on by a company from Utah. This involved spending an entire day listening to a spiel put on by an affable, straight-speaking, clean-cut young man, originally from California, but who transplanted himself and his young family to family-friendly, bucolic Utah. In fact, everyone who represented the company seemed to come from Utah.

    Even though he kept explicit political references out of his spiel, it was obvious from the cultural references he used (Wal-Mart, Harleys, big manly trucks, family, family, family) where his proclivities lie. At the very end of the day, he capped his time with us by reciting a poem called “Builders and Breakers”, which was about the closest he came to making an explicit political statement.

    The poem’s essence was about how building something can take months or years of careful, patient work, but how destroying something can be accomplished within minutes or seconds. He applied this poem to those who would complain or criticize how the country was being run, including those who would criticize the President. The notion that the powers-that-be could properly be seen as “breakers” was utterly, and completely foreign to him.

    Rather than pick a fight, I just walked out. These people in Red State America live in a completely different culture, one that turns my native California on its head, but it’s a culture that gives them an enormous sense of confidence and security, regardless of whether this is misplaced or not. This right wing presenter had an aura of confidence and solidity (and simplicity) that I rarely see in left coast city folk, or among liberals in general. Until this sense of confidence changes, these people will rule, and rule for a long time.

  8. Liberals should pray that conservatives accept the Bush = Carter meme, and here’s why. Reagan’s 1980 victory, and the ascendance of Reagan’s personality-driven foreign policy style, are considered on the right to have been the antidote to the listlessness and drift that defined the Carter years. Now, we have a president brimming with personality and moral clarity and bold rhetoric and…he’s Carter v.2.0? By accepting the Carter/Bush analogy, the right comes a step closer to accepting that bold rhetoric, moral clarity, etc. are peripheral to, or at least insufficient conditions for, foreign policy success. And America comes a step closer to a non-insane foreign policy.

  9. “…a president brimming with personality and moral clarity and bold rhetoric…”?

    Excuse me, but if that reference is to George W. Bush, you sir have been off your thorazine far too long.

    Actually, in attempting to parse the rest of that comment, I see lack of medication surely must be the commenter’s problem. It makes no sense whatsoever.

  10. Joanr16, It makes good sense..Daniel isn’t endorsing Bush, he’s stating the( false) perception. I’m surrounded with a circle of family and friends who are Pentacostals( speaking in tongues,foot washing,and baptism in the holy ghost) and they unanimously believe that Bush represents moral clarity. We who are enlightened know Bush is a shitbag liar, but there are many still out here who believe Bush is in power by divine appointment and represents the will of God..

  11. Alyosha, I don’t know about Salt Lake City folks, but I have some experience with Utah country-side folks. I lived for eighteen months caretaking an isolated Utah place beyond the phone lines where it took a half hour and driving through creek bottoms to reach pavement and the nearest neighbor’s house, and two hours to drive 40 miles to the nearest town [which drive was impossible after a snowfall].

    There something powerful about realizing you are on your own dealing with scorpions, rattlesnakes, black widows [all very common]…..or realizing that only your own carefulness will avoid a life-ending sprained ankle or broken bone while hiking a canyon.

    Most of the Utah folk I met had an aura of confidence, solidity and simplicity because their isolated lives depended upon those qualities. Slowness and silence are fostered to maintain the awareness necessary to live in the Utah countryside.

    I do not believe it is the Utahan sense of confidence that needs to change for our country to get different leaders. I am confident that the double digit drop in Utah support for Bush is because these folks, though slower by lifestyle to change course, and yes even in the milieu of their rightie news outlets, hate a bamboozling phony cowboy.

  12. the putsch has the next election already, regardless of which party wins. now they need only consolidate their gains. no one is left to oppose them. black box voting has rendered electoral politics meaningless anyway. the war with iran has begun without regard for public opinion or populism, quaint notions of a time before secret war resolutions. for all we know, the senate may be dissolved in the interests of national security, with heir w appointed chancellor for the time being. until the republic is safe.

  13. pakistan has nukes too. do all ya’all trust w to count them all paki nukes before laying our own into iran? looked at a map of over there lately? this is genuinely crazy talk from one with a wet brain who claims messianic authority. batshit nuts. nightmare city.

  14. swami, I’ve learned to appreciate your perceptions and laugh at your humor, but I’ve read comment #8 half a dozen times and I still don’t get it. I guess sometimes people comment in a hurry (“Whoops, Jesus is coming, look busy!”) and don’t re-read what they post.

  15. RandyH, I’ve seen that Dan Simmons piece – I actually blogged about it today – it’s all over the wingnutosphere. I know there’s a fascist streak in science fiction, but when an acclaimed sci-fi author can openly call for genocide against Muslims, it’s scary to think what is happening to this country.

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