The Republican Party is in trouble. Deep, dark trouble. The off-year election a few days ago clearly demonstrated that many folks have had it with the Grand Old Party. And more storm clouds are on the horizon.
The fact that the bright red state of Virginia elected a Democrat Governor, and the citizens of New Jersey elevated an ultra-liberal like Jon Corzine to the top spot, signal a major turn to the left in America. The Republican establishment should be afraid, very afraid, and it can forget about even competing in California; the nation’s largest state even voted down parental notification for minors having an abortion. If you’re a California girl, you can’t get a tattoo without parental permission, but you can abort a fetus. Welcome to the secular paradise.
The Republican problem is a President Bush problem. So far, he has vastly underperformed in his second term, and no spin in the world is going to mitigate that. Either the President improves his standing with the public, or next year at this time the Democrats will regain control of Congress and Mr. Bush’s power will turn into the ghost of Christmas past.
The Bush/GOP woes lie in three major areas:
- The public largely does not understand the importance of Iraq. With the elite media lined up against the conflict and casualties mounting every day, the folks simply don’t know what’s going on and why the sacrifice is necessary. The President hasn’t been able to spell it out.
- We the people are teed off over exploding gas and oil prices. Nobody warned us, nobody explained. Americans are known to vote their wallets, and Mr. Bush better get a handle on this situation or he’s done. Record profits for Exxon while working Americans bleed is not going to drive any President’s popularity.
- And finally, the Presidency is a performance business, and performance is largely defined by the economy and the media. Outside of high energy prices, the economy is still good. But the media is pounding President Bush into pudding. He must fight back against that pounding. If he does not engage the negative media, it will overwhelm him. Mr. Bush needs to take his case directly to the people in terms everybody understands.
The hidden danger for Republicans is that President Bush may not care about public perception. He is known as a somewhat stubborn guy, and he might say ‘to heck with it, I’ll stay the course.’ If he does that, the course will lead right down the drain for the GOP.
While some nutty partisans hate President Bush with a passion that rivals other nutty partisans’ hatred of Bill Clinton, most Americans continue to like the President as a person, the polls show. So he can come back.
But it will take determination and changes. The Bush administration needs new blood and viable solutions to Iraq, energy, illegal immigration, and enormous government spending.
No question Mr. Bush has lost his mojo, but, like Austin Powers, he can recapture it. However, there are more than a few lurking Dr. Evils that Mr. Bush will have to defeat. Interesting bet as to whether he’ll be able to do it.