Bush May Have Backed Democrats Into a Corner
My tepid response to the State of the Union aside, I think President Bush may have set the increasingly apoplectic Democrats up for a very big fall with his speech. And upon further reflection, this may indeed be the same calculating Bush we've always known, lowering expectations, and preparing to pounce.
Despite the initiatives he mentioned Tuesday night, Bush was really serious about three things: preventing the expiration of the tax reductions, of the Patriot Act, and his authority to act to protect the American people by intercepting communications to and from Al Qaida agents. And we know two things about each of these proposals: The American people for the most part favor them and the Democrats don't. (courtesy RealClearPolitics.com)
When better than an election year for the Democrats to be caught advocating for tax increases (because that's how Bush will pitch their opposition), weakening or eliminating our national security laws which have kept us safe from attacks for the past four and a half years, and to oppose wiretapping of suspected al Qaida agents which has likewise kept us safe, in keeping with the tenets of their anti-American, secularist legal arm, the ACLU?
Bush didn't offer those propositions just because he wanted them passed, but because he is certain that they will pass, and that they will do so only after a very bloody and public fight with the Democrats. And unlike a Social Security change (much like the confusing and therefore unpopular Medicare Part D changes), people know the benefits they have enjoyed under the Patriot Act--no bombs, hijackings, buildings destroyed or people killed on our soil. Likewise, Americans aren't all that concerned that al Qaida agents enjoy a bit less privacy than others when it comes to electronic communications. And the notion of keeping more of the money they make for their own purposes, aside of the benefits the government reaps from such cuts, is equally appealing.
But Democrats working for opposite results--results that will economically harm and physically endanger Americans--will not go down smoothly with voters. And such a thing may help Republicans to hold critical Senate seats, like that of Rick Santorum (R-PA) who looks to be in big trouble, or to potentially score what now appear to be unlikely upsets, such as replacing Sen Bill Nelson (D-FL) with Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) , or perhaps to turn close races such as that for the seat of Herb Kohl (D-WI) into a victory for Tommy Thompson (R-WI). It worked in 2002 when Republicans had more seats to lose than Dems, and if played carefully and appropriately, can do the same when the Dems have more to lose, as they do this year.
And if they choose 2006 as the year they moderate themselves, Bush likewise takes a record of successes, with at least the appearance of a better tone in Washington. But who are we kidding? The Democrats have abandoned reason for the hippie leftism for which they never really stopped advocating since the 1960s, and they surely won't stop now.
But it also needs to be understood that Bush rises to elections much better than just about anyone else. He turned a troubled year of 2004 into a victory, and in 2002 did the same, as he was ramping up to a war.
We'll see what happens, but if the Dems oppose Bush in these three areas, they will be forced to answer for it in the fall. Recall Max Cleland.