Saturday, June 04, 2005
Why Bush lost momentum
- Low hanging legislative fruit gone
- Misreading of mandate
- Unintended consequences of the 51% campaign approach
- Misreading the Democrats response to Daschle's defeat
- Unintended consequences of the redistricting in Texas
- Unintended consequences of GOP cutting Dems out of legislative writing & committee discussions.
- Iraq not going well
- Push for more power to executive vs. Legislative branch
- It was Al Hunt who pointed out that Bush's main legislative successes were tax cuts, war & drug give away (don't have link to specific WSJ editorial), but now his goals were not items that are easy to gain a consensus.
- During the campaign, the main issues were GWOT & Iraq War. Clearly Bush has a mandate to stay-the-course in Iraq, but any other issues pretty much got lost in the noise of the campaign. Social Security 'privatization' was not a dominant topic in the campaign, so Bush's primary legislative goal was not part of his electoral mandate.
- Mark Warner commented how trying for 51% of the electorate wins election, but is not a good governing strategy. This fits in the with the mandate argument - winning 51% of the electorate doesn't give you a huge ground swell of support when trying to effect substantive change since 48% voted for your competitor.
- The GOP thought that after they defeated the Dems Senate leader, the Dems would be cowed or at least more amenable to compromise - didn't happen. Perhaps if the GOP had tried for a non-sacred cow the Dems unity would not have been so strong, but trying to 'privatize Social Security' guaranteed party unity.
- Believe it was also Al Hunt who pointed out that once Charles Stenholm was defeated, there went the key Democrat who would have supported Social Security reform. By defeating conservative Democrats in Texas the GOP ensured there would be few conservative Dems who would be amenable to a compromise, and thus greater opposition unity.
- This goes to a trust issue - by excluding Democrats from committee meetings has ensured Dem obstinacy from even starting legislation on 'social security'.
- Bush claimed that he had earned political capital with his re-election and would agree with that claim, and also he earned capital with the Iraqi election. However since that time the ongoing death toll in Iraqi has largely spent much of that capital. As Kevin Drum pointed Americans like winning wars not waging them.
- Cheney wanted to restore power for the executive branch. In Bush's first term, the legislative branch largely went along with Bush's desire, but now that he is a 'lame duck' the resentments of that approach are showing through. Now folks like Frist are out for themselves & not for the Bush agenda (believe his push for the 'nuclear option' was to collect chits with the conservative branch & not because of helping Bush). At some level folks do not like being bossed around and misled even by the leader of their party. Believe part of the push for additional federal financing of embryonic stem cell research is in part a push back at the executive branch for trying to usurp too much authority from the legislative branch. Too much arrogance by Bush officials to both parties in Congress has engendered blowback.
Happy to see that running roughshod over folks has had its costs.
Happy to see the Dems not being cowed & finally showing some backbone.
Addendum: 1 other issue contributing to lost momentum is the GOP dissipating capital on issues that do not match the popular will. The two most prominent issues are Terri Schiavo intervention & the proposed "nuclear option". Have read several postings from the right on their opposition to the "nuclear option" - my favorite being from redstate.org - happy there's common ground between us.