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, Ã 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?
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.