Facing the most difficult political environment since they took control of Congress in 1994, Republicans begin the final two months of the midterm campaign in growing danger of losing the House while fighting to preserve at best a slim majority in the Senate, according to strategists and officials in both parties.
Over the summer, the political battlefield has expanded well beyond the roughly 20 GOP House seats originally thought to be vulnerable. Now some Republicans concede there may be almost twice as many districts from which Democrats could wrest the 15 additional seats they need to take control.
President Bush's low approval ratings, the sharp divisions over the war in Iraq, dissatisfaction with Congress, and economic anxiety caused by high gasoline prices and stagnant wages have alienated independent voters, energized the Democratic base and thrown once-safe Republican incumbents on the defensive.
Go back to when Bush first took office in 2001 and consider decisions he could have made to avoid damaging Republican popularity with the electorate.
First off, Bush could have passed on invading Iraq as colossal waste of time, money, lives, security, and US influence in the world. Iraq would have pumped more oil with Saddam Hussein firmly in control and the US could have allowed him to up production. This would have slightly reduced the run-up in oil prices.
Second, could have cracked down on illegal immigration and supported a reduction in legal immigration - especially of the less skilled. That would have reduced housing costs, improved wages for the lower classes, and even reduced domestic oil demand. Plus, the reduction in low skilled low wage immigrants would have reduced pressures on state and local governments to pay for the services and prisons to deal with the immigrants.
Lower class people hardest hit by immigration would have been far more supportive of the Republicans if the Republicans had come down on firmly on their side.
Bush also could have formulated a more aggressive energy policy designed to reduce demand for oil from Muslim oil sheikdoms. Conservation measures and greater funding for research and development into alternative energy sources would have positioned the Republican party as working to reduce our need to buy increasingly expensive oil.
Republicans, your leader's decisions have shafted the party.
Mr. Rove remains a dominant adviser to President Bush, administration officials say. But outside the White House, as Mr. Bush’s popularity has waned, and as questions have arisen among Republicans about the White House’s political acumen, the party’s candidates are going their own way in this difficult election season far more than they have in any other campaign Mr. Rove has overseen.
Some are disregarding Mr. Rove’s advice, despite his reputation as the nation’s premier strategist. They are criticizing Mr. Bush or his policies. They are avoiding public events with the president and Mr. Rove.
Influential conservative commentators have openly broken with the White House, calling into question the continued enthusiasm of evangelicals, economic conservatives and other groups that Mr. Rove has counted on to win elections. Some Republicans are ignoring Mr. Rove’s efforts to hold the party together on issues like immigration and Iraq.
Rove is spending big time on Republican get-out-the-vote campaigns. That'll help the Repubs.
Bush could spend the next 2 years under investigations by Democrat-controlled Congressional committees.
Mr. Rove has warned associates that a Democratic takeover in Congress would mean an end to Mr. Bush’s legislative hopes and invite two years of potentially crippling investigations into the administration.
Yet Bush refuses to shift position on immigration. He refuses to acknowledge the obvious on Iraq. Maybe he (and, more importantly, the nation) needs having him whacked up side the head by Congress for a couple of years.
My nightmare scenario is that Bush will make an immigration deal with a Democrat-controlled Congress and bring on a massive wave of immigration that makes the current problems small by comparison. He'd be willing to do it. I think the Democrats in Congress would too. What would stop them? Popular opinion? I figure they think they can get away with ignoring it.
One policy the Democrats would push through is a big increase in the minimum wage. That would reduce the demand for low skilled Hispanic immigrants. I think the Democrats should hike the minimum wage to $12 per hour. They could do it believing that no reduction in demand for labor would result. I'm happy to have them act on their delusions on this issue. But I'd rather they didn't act on their delusions on immigration policy.
Update: Also see Lawrence Auster's post We dodged immigration catastrophe this year—but what about next year? Larry argues that Republicans in the Congress need to run on immigration restriction if they are to have any chance of keeping control of houses of Congress. I agree.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2006 September 03 10:12 AM Politics American Domestic|