The Republican Mystery
The truly astonishing thing about the latest scandals besetting the Bush administration is that they stem from actions the administration took after the November elections, when Democratic control of Congress was a fait accompli.So was it
During last year's congressional campaigns, Republicans spent a good deal of time and money predicting that if the Democrats won, Congress would become one big partisan fishing expedition led by zealots such as Henry Waxman. The Republicans' message didn't really impress the public, and apparently it didn't reach the president and his underlings, either. Since the election, they have continued merrily along with their mission to politicize every governmental function and agency as if their allies still controlled Congress, as if the election hadn't happened.
Clearly, they had grown accustomed to the Congress of the past six years, whose oversight policy towards the administration was "Anything Goes." But their total and apparently ongoing inability to shift gears once the Democrats had taken control -- with an oversight policy that could be summarized as "You Did WHAT?" -- is mind-boggling.
Democrats such as Waxman clearly had planned to hold hearings on the administration's hitherto-unexamined follies of the past six years. Instead, the most high-profile investigations they're conducting concern administration follies of the past five months, since they won the election.
D) All of the above
The answer is probably D. But it's not just the White House.
The president's mega-failure, of course, has been his decision to plow ahead in Iraq, the verdict of the American electorate in November notwithstanding. More mysterious still has been the inability of congressional Republicans to change course on the war. Last week, just two Republican congressmen voted for the Democrats' bill to withdraw U.S. combat forces from Iraq by the end of August 2008. Yesterday, just two Republican senators voted for Democratic senators' bill setting a March 2008 deadline.Meyerson then gives four reasons why neither the Bush administration of the Republican Congress Members will change. I think he nails it with number four.
It's not as if congressional Republicans are particularly pleased with the conduct of the war. It's not as if the House Democrats' bill is unpopular. Polling released yesterday from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press showed 59 percent support for the bill compelling U.S. forces to leave Iraq by a year from August, with 61 percent support from independents, 34 percent support from Republicans, and 44 percent support from moderate Republicans. The roughly 1 percent support for the measure from House Republicans, then, massively underrepresents their constituents' -- even their Republican constituents' -- support for the bill.
More fundamentally, congressional Republicans were knocked into the minority last November because voters had sickened of their lockstep support for Bush's war. Clearly, they will be knocked a good deal further into the minority if that support continues.
And the fourth, pertaining specifically to the inability of the administration to stop politicizing government, is that good government is just not in their DNA. Bush and Rove are no more inclined to create a government based on such impartial values as law and science than they are to set up collective farms.Meanwhile we see the latest spin from the Republicans - it's not our ideology it's the incompetence of the Bush administration that has created the debacle both at home and abroad. Wrong! This administration has followed the conservative/Republican ideology to the letter. The American people have seen first hand that it doesn't work.
Brian Beutler, posting at Ezra Klein's place, has a fifth reason.
Allow me to suggest a fifth reason, which is, I suppose, related to Harold's point about the Republican base. The Republicans have spent--depending upon when you start the clock--as few as six or as many as a dozen years advancing a broken system of government and holding their oversight priorities in contempt. Now they're busted, and--like children--plan to pretend that nothing mischievous has been going on. They're worried that they'll lose that base if, on the heels of their first major political loss, they put their hands in the air and say, "yep, it was all a scam."I think he's onto something.