Time for Congressional Republicans to Make Up With Bush
I have been very hard on the President's communications apparatus, such as it is, along with his immigration policy, such as that is. And I have no qualms about expressing displeasure over the wisdom and political effects of the Dubai Ports World deal, the veto threat and other matters. But whatever Congressional Republicans think of these matters as they approach the midterm election, they might want to add this to their calculus: they distance themselves from the President at their own peril.
Indeed these are unpleasant times for the Republicans, as they are disunited, have a president with sagging poll numbers, and Democrats seem to be able to successfully mask their lack of relevancy by blaming Republicans for everything that is not perfect with the world.
But there are a few things that cannot be ignored. Bush can draw a crowd of fundraisers, he can get them to write checks, and he can get the faithful out to vote. He put his own reputation on the line in 2002, which no president has ever done, and posted Congressional gains in both that year and 2004. And Bush's popularity was nothing stellar in 2004 either, where he posted the greatest gains. The short of it is that this is just part of another news cycle, and Bush has survived them and thrived past them before. Per Jay Cost at RealClearPolitics.com:
As I have written time and again, the political landscape is not such that we can expect the Democrats to retake the House. The economy is too strong, there are too few open seats, and Bush is not sufficiently unpopular. Pundits on both sides tend to extrapolate from a given point in time under the assumption that things will stay as they are. So, any time BushÂs numbers go down, the talk instantly turns to a Democratic recapture of the House. Wait a month. BushÂs numbers will go back up, and then the talk will be about how the Democrats blew their chances. We have already been through one iteration of this inane process, and it looks like weÂre in for another spin.The point is that Bush is not as radioactive as he looks at this point, and that the Democrats can only get minimal traction on any of these issues, most notably national security, because even though this story has been a giant liability for the White House, Republicans remain ahead of Democrats on the National Security issue. If anything, it means that whatever damage the Republicans have suffered from this, the Democrats still have a credibility gap on the most important issue to voters. The party that cries foul about racial profiling in the terror war and wants to see granny strip searched at the airport while a group of young Middle Eastern men goes by without so much as a second look, just can't be taken seriously when they reflexively jump on the profiling bandwagon for nothing more than to seize a temporary political opportunity. So as much as Harry Reid thinks that this is an opportunity, it is yet another opportunity to show that he is little more than a crank and a political heckler whose party offers nothing more than "elect us, we're the other guys".
Mind you, all of this is despite the fact that seat changes in the House occur because of much more stable processes than the news cycle. God help us all if that were the case!
And as stupid as the Democrats like to think Bush is, the smart ones will remember that they have been thrice beaten by him in elections when they thought they could destroy him. This is a president with a surprising comeback ability. Bush is aware as anyone that this election is just as critical as any other to his efforts to bring democracy to the Middle East and to fight terrorism. He knows that if the Democrats get a foothold on power for the final two years of his presidency, he will be unable to successfully position his successor to carry on the policies he has enacted, which would presume that they would not be reversed by the Dems. He knows the stakes.
The problem is in the waiting for him to fix it all.
But Bush will be ready for the fall. Only a fool or someone with a guaranteed victory would distance themselves from him.