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Wide Right

This president is doing for his Party what the Kremlin did for theirs...
The math is simple, the equation flawless. Roots are taking hold across the soil of America. The Republican Party, while its loudest chortlers will never admit anything but the contrary, is on the way down. The latest example of the GOP shaking itself to pieces under George W. Bush's warped leadership shows up right on the front pages of the papers last week. The U.S., it says, is actively seeking more U.N. involvement in Iraq. They have little choice; otherwise, Congress estimates we'll be calling up more Reserve and National Guard units by spring, just to keep enough troops in place in our addle-headed occupation. That's no more likely to corral votes for the top cowboy than is the growing number of wounded soldiers, whose families now get to change their dressings, and are still wondering why.

After capitulating to the world community's demands for power and control, which will be seen by most in the administration as nothing less than a colossal loss of face, the American public can expect such failure to be spun into gossamer success by the loudmouth Bushies. See, they'll say, we dragged the U.N. in there, kicking and screaming, did their jobs for them, and turned it over to their care. Why, that was our plan all along... and they'll tug on their collars and pray that we really are as stupid as they have believed us to be all this time.

This is part of a pattern that has long been identified by aficionados of politics. Bush tends to over-reach in the first place and then reel it back to a defensible position when the consequences, which are usually predictable if not always obvious, become the results of his actions. My old political science instructor called this practice "yo-yo politics", but back then, he was talking about the tactics of the Soviets.

Bush does for his party what the Kremlin did for theirs. They wearied their populations with this dance, and their military contingents as well, and when the time came for the stone-throwing crowds to drag out the politicians and burn their filing cabinets, they were able to do so without a shot being fired. Ronald Reagan's vision of an Evil Empire became a tin-cup cripple over a period of months, due to the very sort of political errors we see being committed by Bush today.

It is not so much that he is an uninspiring figure to potential Republican voters (although an awful lot of moderates are horrified by the caricature that the president has become); it's that the opposition has been galvanized by his partisanship, sprayed with fuel and set ablaze by the incendiary tone of his most ardent supporters.

This, too, is a yo-yo scenario. Look at the last few elections and you'll see what I mean. In 1992, the right wing was a bit tepid about Papa Bush; he'd won a popular war, no question, but the economy wasn't doing so well, the jobless rate was peaking, and the deficit was running at a whopping rate of $30 billion a year (as opposed to $400 billion this year). Those disaffected "threw their votes away" in the direction of H. Ross Perot, and the Democrats, once they got the wheat sorted from the chaff in the primaries, backed Bill Clinton just enough to get him comfortably over the top.

In 1996, the Democrats and most all Americans weren't about to replace a sitting chief executive, who had done a good job in the face of mulish opposition from a Republican House of Representatives (led by the world's biggest irrelevancy, Newt Gingrich). Again, the voters on the right had a hard time getting it up for Bob Dole, and Clinton won in an embarrassing landslide.

In 2000, a lot of Democrats had seen their political pride wane with the overblown Lewinsky scandal, and nobody was all that excited about the prospects of a Gore/Lieberman ticket. The Republicans, on the other hand, were breathing fire out of their nostrils to get "their" America out from under the yoke of Democratic prosperity, and they campaigned and voted like the world was about to end. By anyone's count, Bush lost the popular vote by half a million ballots, and still managed to win on a technicality and some unwarranted manipulation of the electoral process by five members of the Supreme Court, whom history will treat accordingly.

See where this is going? Full-blown backing of Republicans versus mild support for Democrats equals, essentially, a tie. But when the Elephants are less than enthusiastic in the face of a Donkey stampede, they get mown down. In 2004, both parties will be out en masse. The GOP has their champion, and it won't matter who comes out of the pack for the opposition (it's going to be Dean). The Republican voters are in a panic to keep their illegitimate little president in office, and the Democrats are very serious about their politics after what happened last time. With both parties stomping on the pedal, this race isn't even going to be close.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt used to have a saying whenever the press or the Congress would crawl up his back about something: "I guess everyone's agin' me," he'd chuckle, " except for the electorate." George W. Bush is about to find his political livelihood impaled on the other end of a truly great leader's pointy axiom.

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