"George Bush did not exist"

Digby has an interesting catch on where the movement conservatives are going.

I've noticed something interesting among the family rightwingers lately: they have simply disappeared Bush and the Republican congress from their minds. It's the weirdest thing. You talk politics with them and they are already going on about how the Democrats are ruining the country with their big spending and high taxes. You ask about Bush and they look at you blankly and start talking about the Clintons.

Yup, that's about right.  Here's Jon Henke, Mitch McConnell's new internet director, throwing Bush under the bus directly.  Aside from Bush, McConnell is going to be the linchpin of power for the Republicans, since he's in charge of stopping legislation for Democrats (that's what the business lobbyists are saying, anyway).  He'll be their leader and Congressional backstop, their Harry Reid from 2004-2006.  So when Henke writes his rules for what to do in the wake of losses, we ought to listen. Here are rules 3-7, written in the context of Republican Congressional leadership elections.

3 - Voters have already made it clear that they want to throw the bums out. If the Republican Congressional leaders don't follow suit, I don't believe the voters will be done bum-throwing.

4- John Boehner may not have been The Problem, but it's not at all clear that he's The Solution, either.  Appearances matter. Image is everything.

5- Most of the issues over which the Republican Party lost their majority -- scandals, Iraq, the 6-year itch -- are transitory. The one thing that will remain a problem is the dissolution of the Republican "Brand": "the limited government Daddy Party".

6- To rebuild that Brand, the GOP must have new leadership that doesn't bear the blame for past transgressions.

7- The Republican leadership must treat President Bush like the Big Government, nanny-state abomination that he is.

Henke is smart and got an upfront view of the Allen debacle as Allen's blogger.  Unlike most of the wingnutosphere, Henke is a genuine strategic thinker who understands the dynamics of internet politics and the game of modern communications.  He's not inward looking and he gets that the right has to seriously invest and change their institutional framework to catch up to us. This is an excellent hire by McConnell, and it suggests he will be a very formidable leader.

As for Bush, he's in very serious trouble.  The talking points for Republican/conservative survival have been handed down - Bush is a weak, and pathetic lame-duck.  As the economy cracks, I wouldn't be surprised if Bush heads to 1973 Nixon-level popularity.

Tags: George Bush (all tags)

Comments

11 Comments

Re: "George Bush did not exist"

Republicans would be smart to follow his advice.  The best way to recover a party is to give it new leadership and fresh ideas.  The Bush/Frist/DeLay era is over, but the ideas are the same.

Republicans had an opportunity to start to rebuild by choosing new House leadership with Pence/Shaddegg but they chose the status quo with Boehner/Blunt.

It will be interesting to see where they go from here.

by Vox Populi 2007-01-02 01:16PM | 0 recs
Re: "George Bush did not exist"

I agree with Vox Populi...the best thing they could do from a strategic standpoint is to RUN AWAY from the Bush legacy and do a major, and I mean MAJOR rebranding of their image--which includes new leaders, new faces, new ideas and most importantly a repudiation of the Bush era--not an easy task. Bush himself tried to do that in 2000 with his "compassionate conservative" rhetoric that fooled a lot of people and took advantage of the Clinton "fatigue". Of course once he got into office he didn't follow up on that new branding and just completely failed at everything he touched.

That does not guarantee anything for them even if they do it, the legacy of the Bush years is just too fucking strong to overcome by 2008. Their complete capitualtion to the Bush agenda and his war--sticking to Bush like super glue from 2000 to 2005 is something they cannot undue in a few years.

But they will begin to pretend like the George Bush years just never happenned and that everything left off after Clinton. That is really their oly choice--Bush is the worst president ever and they can't continue to defend the indefensible. It's probably not gonna work for many years, but they sure as hell have to do it if they even want to try regaining majorities ever again.

by need some wood 2007-01-02 01:49PM | 0 recs
Re: "George Bush did not exist"

Luckily, the Republican House leadership didn't change. I can't see Boehner and Blunt embracing radical new thought or changing long-ingrained habits of corruption. They'll just pontificate endlessly but be largely powerless due to House rules.

The Senate is more of a problem. McConnell and Lott are clever and they'll certainly obstruct whatever legislation they can. And this hire suggests they may have intentions beyond playing defence for two years and hoping for victory. Plus there's a slightly lower proportion of Republican crazies in the Senate than the House (and many of the crazies are crazy corrupt more than crazy rightwing,) so I don't see them adopting the idea that they lost due to not being right-wing enough.

by Englishlefty 2007-01-02 02:26PM | 0 recs
Thanks be, George Bush does exist!

They will not do this. Not because they are ignorant of where they are now but rather because they lack the will to change.

Change is very difficult as we know. Bush happens to not believe in it so he is the perfect person, from a progressive perspective, to preside over the destruction of the Republican Party. The ReichWing infrastructure will remain and new ReichBots will emerge from their training camps but the 'folks' on The Hill now who call themselves Republicans will go down with the ship.

The big question is will Pelosi and Reid realise that this is a time where...

No compromise should be made.

No quarter should be given.

The blame must be assigned to those who are to blame, Republicans in and out of office, and that this must be done in time for it to have the maximum effect on the next election.

I think these two parties are smart enough, wily enough to know this...

Question is...

Do they have the stomach to put the steel to the Republicans.

I think they do and that they will. There have been some signs of this recently.

I hope I'm reading the tea leaves correctly.

by Pericles 2007-01-02 02:35PM | 0 recs
When is the economy going to crack?

I'm sorry, but is there a reason Dems have to be rooting for the economy to fail?

There are structural reasons why the US economy persists despite doomsaying.  For example, 4.5% unemployment makes it nearly impossible for the economy to just roll over and play dead.  While the US dollar is weak, and Bush's weak dollar policy was an awful idea, the US economy is still the end point of the world economy not the starting point.  With the world economy thriving, and cheaper energy on the horizon, combined with business having faith in fiscal hawk Dems...

You get the point.

Stop doomsaying the economy just because you want Bush to fail.  It makes Democrats look like the defeatists that Republicans claim we are.

Worse, if the economy improves, it reduces our credibility in claiming it was our fault.

by jcjcjc 2007-01-02 04:33PM | 0 recs
Re: When is the economy going to crack?

I'm not trying to talk the economy down from my itty-bitty blog, I'm just going off the various financial blogs I read (including Barry Ritholz's The Big Picture and Bonddad) as well as Congressional staffers who tell me they expect a recession.  I don't necessarily agree that cheaper energy is on the horizon, though I'm no economist and I'm not trying to predict a recession.

That said, most Americans are not happy about the economy so it's not clear to me that it is strong.

by Matt Stoller 2007-01-02 04:38PM | 0 recs
Re: When is the economy going to crack?

Even then, I'd offer you're still selecting down beat blogs.  Any given year, a person so inclined is going to find information that validates their view.

It's one of the shortcomings of the internet: people tend to tune into what validates their views and then everything else goes away.

The broader financial sentiment going into 2006 is positive.  The stock market is up.  Real wages are finally pulling out of their nose dive.

I'd stuggle to believe that a Democratic Congress isn't going to make the best attempt possible to impose some fiscal discipline.  Any sign that the US government's burnthrough rate on money is ending will strengthen the dollar.

Couple that to strong employment figures, and it is hard to believe that 2006 is going to be awful year economically for anyone in the US.

The truth is, this economy has weathered the most awful form of incompetence possible.  With some light now at the end of the tunnel, this economy has a good chance.

by jcjcjc 2007-01-03 05:34AM | 0 recs
Re: When is the economy going to crack?

Matt (I think) and Barry Ritholz and I and others like us are not talking necessarily about a major long term drop in GDP; we are talking about at a minimum a contiuation of the current situation.

When you consider wages and the persistence and increase of risk for the bottom 90% of the population, then you see that even with today's "good numbers" there's ample reason for dissatisfaction - and it will only get worse.  Health care will only get more expensive, outpacing inflation; same for higher ed costs. And fuel costs. And the housing bubble has only started to deflate; bank on it - there will be at least a 5 year real decline (real, not nominal) in home prices - with attendant ripple effects throughout the economy.   It might be 10 years; wouldn't surprise me.  Has happened before.    

Check the polling; people are NOT happy about the economy.  

by Andmoreagain 2007-01-03 08:20AM | 0 recs
Sure, I'll buy that argument

I just think it's a very difficult distinction to make in public.  One of the problem with the Democrats' view of the economy is that our view requires a great deal more nuance than the GOP's view.  

The GOP's view is... cut taxes... and then... I dunno.  The tooth fairy takes over or something.

However, that view articulates very well into "keep the government out of my checkbook".

As for housing, I've been down on housing for eons.  It's a weird feature of the current economy that bubbles carry a strong resistance with them.  

Where I think everyone is missing the mark about the current economy is labor supply.  One of the reasons the business wing of the GOP has been so tough on minimum wage and so keen on immigration is they're trying to avert what they see as a supply crisis in labor (of course, the laborer calls this an opportunity, not a crisis).

In an economy that is driven from the bottom upward, a tightening labor market carries with it certain inevitabilities.  One of those is increased consumer spending.  Couple that with an energy price drop and/or a strengthening of the dollar, and a lot of delayed spending could spill forth into the economy.  If all three pan out happen, you end up with a veritable economic wonderland (at least until the production shortfalls of tight labor eventually catch up with us).

And, of course, God forbid all these spenders end up in a cheaper housing market...

Honestly, I think we're overdue for a correction of the economy towards the little guy.  Obviously, the Bush years are going to be remember as a second age of robber barons.  

But, the environment suggests that the higher end of the market is struggling to get while the gettin is good.  Once a lot of the structural "shortcomings" of the economy kick in, the rich are going to have to pony up some cash to keep their enterprises running smoothly.

by jcjcjc 2007-01-03 09:55PM | 0 recs
Re: "George Bush did not exist"

4.5% unemployment  is a bogus number. I remember reading somewhere that if we calculated unemployment numbers the same way we did in the 1970s we would have double digit unemployment.

and  most americans are very aware of the economy, how they can lose their job or benefits overnight and then really be screwed.

How many trillions did bush have to borrow to generate his very poor job creation rate?

by 2liberal 2007-01-02 05:11PM | 0 recs
Re: "George Bush did not exist"

Wait a minute!

If the economy craters, it's Bush's fault.  And Greenspan's, but Greenspan did just about everything possible to prop Bush up except a Lewinsky in the Oval Office, and I have my doubts about that too.

It's Bush's fault.

I hope the economy is nothing but miracles for the rest of existence, but if it craters, it's Bush's fault.

Does anyone in their right mind say different?

by Ethelred 2007-01-03 01:31AM | 0 recs

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