Posts Tagged ‘George W. Bush’

According to today’s Washington Post, change is in the air as the Republican National Committee looks for its next chairman.

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As the Bush administration winds down, Democrats and historians are concerned about what information (documents, emails, etc.) might be deleted, destroyed, or withheld before they leave office. ProPublica’s Kristin Jones has this brief review of which documents are and are not protected from destruction by the Presidential Records Act of 1978.

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I have not yet seen Oliver Stone’s recent biopic of the 43rd president, but I recommend reading this discussion about the movie and the Bush presidency between Stone and journalists Ron Suskind, Jacob Weisberg, Bob Woodward, and Michael Isikoff.

WINNERS
Barack Obama and Joe Biden: Like this needs explaining?
Howard Dean: He crashed and burned as a presidential candidate four years ago, but a once in a lifetime candidate and political dynamic vindicated his 50 state strategy as the Democrats explanded their electoral map for the first time in decades.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints: The Mormons got a lot of press this year, good and bad, because of Mitt Romney’s candidacy. They were also the driving force in successfully funding and generating support for Proposition 8 in California.
David Axelrod and David Plouffe: Obama’s two Davids masterminded one of the greatest political campaigns in history, one which will be studied and replicated for decades in the United States and around the world.
The polls: Most campaign polls were right in assessing the mood of the local and national electorate, and correctly foresaw an Obama victory of historic proportions.
Tina Fey: Energized her career with a dead accurate and brutal impression of Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live.
Katie Couric: May have resurrected her career bona fides with her gentle televised mauling of Sarah Palin. That interview will be studied in journalism schools for years to show how brutally effective and newsworthy a simple follow-up question can be.

LOSERS
John McCain: There can be only one winner in a presidential election, and McCain ran as best as he could in one of the harshest political environments for Republicans since 1974.
Sarah Palin: Five words – Not ready for prime time. She energized the Republican base at the expense of everyone else, many of whom were scared at the idea of an unexperienced and unqualified candidate being one 72-year-old heartbeat away from the presidency.  She might have been a rising star in the party before this cycle, but given the fact that she was a net negative for the ticket this time around, any chances of her being on the national ticket in 2012 are slim.
Steve Schmidt, Rick Davis, Mark Salter, Terry Nelson and John Weaver: The McCain brain trust throughout the campaign was fraught with mixed messages and competing egos. Unlike Obama’s consistent message of change, the McCain campaign never had one, and bounced from idea to idea in hopes of turning their electoral fortunes around. They also thought it would be a good idea running on change v. experience based on their candidate’s compelling life story, ignoring the fact that Hillary Clinton tried making the same argument and failed.
Mark Penn: He severely miscalculated the national mood of the electorate to the point where he may be guilty of political malpractice. He was also a source of constant friction within the Clinton campaign, who did not see the warning signs and did not want to get rid of him. In the end, his lobbying deal for Colombia was too much embarrassment for the campaign to handle and he got demoted.
Joe Lieberman: He bucked his own party and endorsed the Republican ticket. He’s about to find out the hard way that elections have consequences.
George W. Bush: He was a radioactive albatross tied to John McCain and nearly every Republican incumbent around the country this year. He didn’t do much campaigning, but like Keyser Soze in the Usual Suspects, he was the large unseen presence lurking throughout the race.
Tim Mahoney: He wins election because his opponent was involved in a sex scandal, only to go down in defeat himself two years later because of a sex scandal.
Karl Rove and Tom DeLay: Four years after President Bush’s re-election mandate, the dream of a permanent Republican majority is dead.
John Ensign: After the fiasco of 2006, Ensign didn’t do a much better job in helping his party stave off losses in the Senate. This time, it was arguably more consequential, because the Democrats are now inching closer to a 60-seat supermajority when their party controls the White House.

That’s the question elected officials, political observers, and voters are asking about the Republican Party. Traditionally, the incumbent president or the party’s presidential candidate is the designated leader of the party. But in 2008, the two Republicans in this role have been unable to rally their political allies to their will.

George W. Bush is a lame duck president, arguably since his party lost control of Congress in 2006. His approval numbers were already at record lows before the economic crisis, which came down on him and his party like a ton of bricks. A recent poll by ABC News and the Washington Post put his disapproval ratings at a record 70 percent. The same poll finds that 25 percent think the president deserves the most blame for the economic crisis.

GOP presidential nominee John McCain has a very different problem. He has made his political reputation, rightly and wrongly, based on his willingness to buck his party’s leadership and the conservative base, on issues ranging from immigration to the environment to confirmation of judicial nominees. His problem is that he has burned his bridges with the base that it’s difficult for some of the party faithful to get excited about his campaign.

Perhaps the most telling sign of the lack of political capital Bush and McCain with regard to influencing congressional Republicans is the fact that they could not get more than one third of House Republicans to vote in favor of the bill, compared to two thirds of House Democrats who supported it. Another telling statistic about Bush and McCain’s diminished influence in their own congressional delegations, pointed out by Politico’s Jonathan Martin: only 4 out of a combined 23 House Republicans from Texas and Arizona voted for the bailout, and they were all from Texas.

While congressional leaders from both parties came together fairly quickly to try and come up with a solution to the crisis, when McCain called for his joint White House photo op with Obama he may have overly politicized the process and potentially helped to derail negotiations.

After the House vote failed, Congressional Republicans held a press conference to denounce a partisan speech given by Nancy Pelosi on the House floor, and said that she was responsible for the failure to pass the bill.

But voters aren’t buying the spin. According to the ABC/Post poll, 44 percent think that congressional Republicans are responsible for failing to pass the bailout legislation, compared to just 21 percent who blame the Democrats and 17 percent who blame both parties. But voters in general are in a sour mood with Congress. A recent CBS poll put congressional approval ratings at only 15 percent. There is a real and tangible feeling of “Throw the Bums Out” and I think a lot of incumbents up for reelection, particularly in the House, will be sweating bullets on Election Day.

Yes, Democrats have been running Congress for more than 18 months now, so some of the pressures of incumbency might be on them. However, I think perceptions with the voters are hardening, if not solidified, that Republicans controlled both the White House and Congress for most of the last 8 years, and that most of, if not all, the events that led up to this moment of economic crisis happened on their watch.

If McCain loses the election and more GOP incumbents are ousted in the House and Senate, look for another round of circular firing squads and potential changes in their congressional leadership. The vacuum in leadership will force new faces to step up and take over, probably from outside Washington. Keep an eye on who is posturing or making noise to be the GOP frontrunner for 2012. I expect it to begin immediately after the current election is over. My guess is we will be hearing and seeing a lot more of Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Tim Pawlenty. From the Congress, look for 2012 buzz coming from Rep. Eric Cantor, Sen. John Thune, and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

Marc Ambinder made a post on this subject worth reading, and the title effectively frames the GOP’s dilemma: “Republicans Are Free Agents Now.”