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Posted by on Oct 15, 2006 in At TMV | 23 comments

Glenn Reynolds: Is It Over For The GOP? The GOP’s Errors

Glenn Reynolds aka InstaPundit has a detailed analysis responding to John Hinderaker’s post (LINKED BELOW) on how bad it looks for the GOP. It is a MUST READ analysis for people who belong to both parties or no parties.

Just a few highlights here:

So is it over for the GOP majorities in Congress? It’s still too early to say, I guess, but when even John Hinderaker is sounding extremely gloomy that’s certainly the way to bet.

So I want to stress, for the edification of any Republican leaders who might pay attention, that this is the result of a series of unforced errors on their part. Following is a (partial) list:

You need to read the entire original post to see the details, but the items he brings up (and explains why they hurt the GOP) are: the Terri Schiavo affair (“Politically, I think this marked the beginning of the end.); the Harriet Miers debacle (“The nomination was withdrawn, but the damage was done.”); the Dubai ports disaster (“The consequence: Lost faith from its strongest constituency.”); immigration; William Jefferson (“A Democratic Congressman is caught in a bribery scandal with a freezer full of cash, and Dennis Hastert backs him up, making clear that protection of insider privilege is more important to the Republican leadership in Congress than either party or principle.”); and Foleygate (“Not much of a scandal in itself, but the last straw for a lot of people.”)

He writes:

At the end of this process, the Republicans have managed to leave every segment of the base unhappy, mostly over things that weren’t even all that important. It’s as if they had some sort of bizarre death wish. Looks like the wish will come true . . . .

As I’ve said before, the Republicans deserve to lose, though alas the Democrats don’t really deserve to win, either. I realize that you go to war with the political class you have, but even back in the 1990s it was obvious that we had a lousy political class. It hasn’t improved, but the challenges have gotten greater. Can the country continue to do well, with such bad political leadership? I hope so, because I see no sign of improvement, no matter who wins next month.

We’ve noted it before: we have met more and more Republicans who want to see their party lose because they see it as a way to “clean house” — literally and figuratively.

You can’t shake up a power structure if there’s no shake.

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey doesn’t think the GOP rout (if it happens) will be as big as many think and explains why HERE.

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  • Gold Star for Robot Boy

    And nowhere does he mention the word Iraq.
    Amazing.

  • I think the GOP will end up staying in. Whenever there is a threat of war republicans do better in the polls.

    EZ Fast Quotes
    http://www.ezfastquotes.com

  • Jim S

    Not only doesn’t he mention Iraq but while he talks about how the GOP should ponder the points he does mention he doesn’t say what they are far more likely to do, which is to say “Our message is right, we just need to push it harder.”. I personally think they’ll just work harder at misleading the public.

  • Gold Star for Robot Boy

    Also, I like Insty’s cluelessness in decrying the harsh tone of the Schiavo debate, as if that hadn’t been happening for all of Bush’s first term. Only, it was directed to members of the Right this time.

  • Larime The Gimp

    He also leaves out Katrina, which did more damage to this Administration’s credibility in the eyes of the average person than most of the list, combined.

  • Johnny Bin Carol

    Ney

    Abramoff

    Delay

    …the silly Plame dance.

  • Elrod

    Glenn’s post hit on why Republicans are angry. But it misses a big point that Joe’s touched on many times: the GOP is in trouble not because of a depreseed base but because Independents think like Democrats right now. Not once since 1994 did Democrats win the vote of Independents in Congressional races. And the biggest reason for Independent defection: failure in Iraq.

  • billmon

    “Ed Morrissey doesn’t think the GOP rout (if it happens) will be as big as many think”

    Captain Queeg also thinks the war in Iraq is a smashing success, that Israel won and Hezbollah lost, and that the Cheney administration has been right on top of the North Korean nuclear threat.

    If he says the GOP isn’t going to lose as badly as the polls (and common sense) say they will, you KNOW November 7 is going to be a big Democratic night.

  • Elrod

    Read through the comments on Ed Morrisey’s blog. I like Morrisey, even though I disagree with him. But his commenters are priceless. Denial, desperation, alienation, anger, despair, shouts of treason…

  • Elrod

    Reading through the followup emails to Glenn confirmed why I detest conservative Republicans so much. What a gang of self-righteous narcissistic twits. They act as if Democrats will lose in Iraq when their own leader has already failed so severely. Are they in denial? They act as if Democrats don’t care about fighting terrorism, as if the GOP approach has been a rousing success. I don’t care what they say about taxes or judges because I just think they’re political wrong, though not idiotic on that score. But on Iraq and terrorism, they are in total denial. The Republicans deserve to lose because they made the country weaker, period. They have, as the immortal James Brown once said, “Talked loud and said nothing.” Or as Bull Moose, who I usually loathe to quote, remarked, “Bush likes to speak loudly and carry a twig.” And as Glenn rightly reminds his readers, saying “the Democrats are worse” loses its power and looks like desperation when you can’t justify why your own side is in power. This reminds me of how I felt in 1994.

  • grognard

    I have a gut feeling that the demise of the Republican Party is greatly exaggerated. As it was pointed out people might poll that they dislike Republicans but in the voting booth they still like “their� guy. It’s the other Republicans they can’t stand. We will see, I still hope for a “time out“ for the Republicans to let them think about things but I never underestimate the power of the Rove.

  • Tommy

    Some of you liberals are citing reasons you harp on Bush and the Republicans even though you wouldn’t vote for them anyway.

    I think Iraq has certainly been a difficult issue, almost certainly the most difficult issue overall for more moderate voters who might swing towards the GOP.

    However, among the base, Iraq, softness on immigration (very likely #1), Hastert’s willingness to cover up for corruption and ethics violations (both with Jefferson and with Foley), other questionable practices such as Ted Stevens putting a secret hold on campaign finance legislation for a time (and yes, I know, Robert Byrd did exactly the same thing, but Robert Byrd is a scumbag anyway), and the out of control pork barrel spending have been the most harmful.

    Finally, there is some frustration that the Bush administration still doesn’t get it when it comes to terrorism. He is still unwilling to name the enemy: not terrorism, which is just a tactic, but radical Islam. He says “either your with us or against us,” and demands that people take sides, but his own policies toward the Palestinians and others reflect an unwillingness to play hardball with the enemy. He still insists “Islam is a religion of peace.” Yeah, sure it is. PM Howard in Australia has been much more bold in his rhetoric than Bush has. Angela Merkel and Steven Harper might both edge Bush out in that category.

  • Elrod

    But Tommy, other than your demands for more rhetorical toughness on Islamic radicalism, your criticisms aren’t that much different than those of moderates and even moderate liberals. Going down your list: Iraq? Obviously liberals, moderates and conservatives agree there’s a problem, even if they don’t all view it the same. Only hardcore partisans have no problem with the Iraq policy. Immigration? Certainly conservatives are more angry about that than anybody else. Hastert and ethics? Sounds like we all agree here. Pork barrel/earmarks? Conservatives are more bothered by this than liberals, but I think a lot of moderate liberals shaped by the Clinton years are bothered by this too. For them, the problem is not so much the pork barrel spending as it is the deficits that follow pork barrel spending and tax cuts. To conservatives, the answer is cut spending. To moderate liberals, the answer is roll back the tax cuts. Different solutions, obviously, but both are bothered by it.

  • Elrod

    I should add another point in response to some of the conservative blogs downplaying the GOP’s problems – Hewitt’s in particular. In 1994, 36 of the GOP’s 54 pickups were won by less than 3 percentage points. Most were very close, as I suspect they will be this November. But it was enough to change Congress. The Democratic leads in these races might not be great, but if they reflect turnout, they will be enough.

  • Kim Ritter

    If the voters leave the Republicans in power, it will be just a matter of time before they self-destruct. They are on that pathway now, and taking the country with them, but may have to really hit bottom before their base totally abandons them. Wipe-out in ’08- Oh Yeah!

  • Gold Star for Robot Boy

    his own policies … reflect an unwillingness to play hardball with the enemy

    Here, you and I are in total agreement. I want to pound the terrorists to mush. While Bush may say he wants to win, but he doesn’t walk the walk. Right now, he is an obstacle to victory.

  • Rudi

    Finally, there is some frustration that the Bush administration still doesn’t get it when it comes to terrorism. He is still unwilling to name the enemy: not terrorism, which is just a tactic, but radical Islam. He says “either your with us or against us,” and demands that people take sides, but his own policies toward the Palestinians and others reflect an unwillingness to play hardball with the enemy.

    Yes our hardball effort to spraed Democracy is working well in Afghanistan and Iraq.
    Tommy are you under 42, your Army needs you to fight this Islamic menace!!!!

  • C Stanley

    Elrod,
    The problem I have with your criticism of conservatives is that you seem to think that since this administration has failed, it is not logical to still believe that conservatism is a better ideology than liberalism. It doesn’t matter how bad this administration has failed or how bad Iraq in particular is, it still isn’t a logical assumption to say that these failures prove conservatism wrong; particularly since this administration has done little that is classically considered conservative anyway. And on Iraq in particular, I think you fail to see that many of us feel that it was the implementation, not the idea, that was wrong.

    As far as asking for the other side to put up a plan, consider Reagan vs. Carter. Instead of just asking Independents and Democrats to vote for him on the basis of Carter’s failures, Reagan always framed the debate in positive terms of how he would change course. By having the courage to do so, he captured a clear mandate from a cross section of voters. Many of us who are disenfranchised from the current Republican leadership wish that there was such an alternative today; we don’t, as you say, see why our guys should be in power, but based on what I’m seeing from the Dems, getting the Republicans out only leaves a void IMO.

  • Jim S

    Elrod, you’re right about what the posters show about the nature of the Republican base. I read the comments on the Morrissey post and the insanity was rampant. Did you know that the Democrats were obstucting everything? In spite of the fact that in our system the only thing a minority can do is filibuster in the Senate and absolutely nothing in the House? It was the typical ranting about how Democrats can’t do national security, they’re all socialists, etc. You can learn the most fascinating things. Did you know that George Soros and Ted Turner run the Democratic party? Given that Morrissey is supposed to be one of the better conservative bloggers why is that isn’t reflected at all in his comments section by the type of people who read and comment?

  • Jim S

    CS,

    Is conservatism a good ideology in for the 21st century? What is conservatism anyway when the rubber hits the road in a country of this size and complexity? No generalities. Give me specific examples of what a truly conservative government would do when it comes to the hard decisions of governing. What agencies and programs would be eliminated? What kind of tax rate? Would it do anything about global warming? Poverty? Just how laissez-faire would it be? Would the favorite conservative targets of the EPA, OSHA, DOE be eliminated? What about Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid? You say you want to hear specifics from the Democrats. Look in the mirror. What are the real goals of modern American conservatism, anyway?

  • Kim Ritter

    Some of you liberals are citing reasons you harp on Bush and the Republicans even though you wouldn’t vote for them anyway. .

    Tommy – And you don’t do the same about liberal politicians?

    A lot of liberals and moderates have been turned off by the direction the Republican party has taken under Bush-the rubber stamp approval of his policies, the uberpartisanship in passing legislation, using extremists on talk radio like Rush and Hannity as mouthpieces, seeing Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin as regular commentators on Fox, the direction of our foreign policy towards unilateralism, I could go on and on. The party as chosen its hard right wing as its base, and panders to it. Moderates like Olympia Snow, Lincoln Chaffee, and Chris Shays are barely tolerated.

  • C Stanley

    Give me specific examples of what a truly conservative government would do when it comes to the hard decisions of governing. What agencies and programs would be eliminated? What kind of tax rate? Would it do anything about global warming? Poverty? Just how laissez-faire would it be? Would the favorite conservative targets of the EPA, OSHA, DOE be eliminated? What about Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid?

    Jim S,
    I can only give you my personal views on how conservative principles can be applied to the issues you stated. In some cases I favor a fairly pure conservative/small govt approach and in other cases I do believe that govt has a role to intervene, so I will give you my views on each of these areas:
    What agencies and programs should be eliminated? For the most part I’d say that we could cut a tremendous amount of waste from ALL programs. Cut the pork, audit all programs for beaurocratic waste, devolve programs to the state/local level as much as possible so that there is more accountability. Institute a presidential line item veto and elect a president who will use it. Educate voters on the need to balance the budget, so that they understand that they have to stop voting in Congressmen who bring home the pork. Help voters understand that their congressional representatives should bring their concerns to the national forum but should never sacrifice the good of the nation for their narrow local interests.

    I’d say generally speaking I’m firmly in the Reagan camp on the need to decentralize; the dangers in the process of doing that is that the feds tend to cut programs and pass the responsibilities on to the states without giving them funding. I think we’d need to have to take a gradual approach to allow states to begin funding programs themselves as they are cut from the federal budget.

    What kind of tax rate? Progressive but not punitive. I’m actually leaning toward the Linder Fair Tax proposal though I’m still a bit concerned that it might be too radical and might have unintended consequences (though I do think they’ve done a pretty thorough analysis and answered most concerns)

    Would it do anything about global warming? Yes. I think this is an opportunity that has been missed by the Republican party. Traditionally of course the GOP has been pro-business and tends to avoid regulation, but smart regulation is critical to protect the environment and the special interests of corporations shouldn’t trump the interest of the citizens to have a healthy environment. So, a combination of smart regulation, and even more importantly, incentives. We should do much more to promote technological advances (for more fuel efficient vehicles and renewable energy sources), along the lines of Kennedy’s moon launch challenge.


    Poverty?
    Government should definitely provide a safety net and should protect those who cannot work for various reasons: physical illness, mental illness, disability, and old age. The safety net should not be confused with providing a living wage for those who are able to work but choose not to though. As much as possible, the system should encourage and enable training and education for advancement (teaching people to fish instead of giving out fish). The government’s main role is to ensure equality of opportunities, not equality of outcome. The amelioration of poverty should focus on helping people rise from the lower end into the middle class, not focus on preventing people from rising out of the top end of middle class into the wealthy class. The govt’s economic policies should promote growth so that more people can share in prosperity: a bigger pie can be split many ways instead of fighting over shares of a small pie.

    Just how laissez-faire would it be? I think I’ve touched on that in some of the specific examples; sensible regulations for corporations to protect the environment, for example. By sensible I mean that the regulations should have some meaningful result, not just slapping penalties to penalize companies, and also that any regulation has to be balanced as to cost/benefit so that the analysis has to include the effects of regulation on the economy.

    Would the favorite conservative targets of the EPA, OSHA, DOE be eliminated? Not eliminated but controlled from excess. To give one silly example of OSHA regulations gone wild: when I was pregnant, my place of business was the target of a random OSHA inspection. I was told that I could no longer keep food in the refrigerator because said refrigerator also stored biological/pharmaceutical materials. I am educated enough to know that there was no real hazard to having sealed food in the same refrigerated chamber as sealed vaccines and medicines, and it was far more important to my health to keep food available while I was pregnant and working because I had problems with blood sugar regulation. However, the government does not feel I am competent to make such decisions for myself, which is ludicrous. So, not only are such regulations frivolous and insulting to citizens, but it is wasteful to spend our tax dollars on enforcement of frivolous rules. I’m not opposed to the concept of OSHA protecting workers from hazards that they may not be aware of, but have some common sense and give people some credit, please.

    What about Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid? On social security, I favor a plan to gradually privatize. I do believe that we need to fix it sooner rather than later because doing so now will allow the transition to take place gradually. The govt can’t reneg on its promise to todays’ retirees, but if it doesn’t do something very soon then it will be reneging on its promise to future ones like myself. On Medicare and Medicaid, I don’t have any easy answers. Cut waste and fraud, but other than that these programs are necessary and will always be expensive. On health care in general, I think the best we can do is to look at ways to cut cost and overhaul the way the health insurance industry works (loosen the ties to employer provided plans, allow coalitions of small businesses to purchase insurance at better rates by pooling employees, etc)

  • Jim S

    Your opinions on the subject were all that I could expect you to express, CS.

    When it comes to the concept of decentralization I think you will face an utter disaster. States do not have the financial wherewithal of the federal government. The federal system helps even things out when times might be bad for one part of the country and not as bad for someone else. Medicaid in Missouri was cut drastically earlier this year. You had over 90,000 people cut from the program. You had people so disabled that they needed a powered wheelchair have a system that would provide the wheel chair but no batteries. Successful programs were gutted. Virtually every state has what many conservatives want the Federal government to have, an inability to go into debt. Missouri also has the Hancock Amendment, which places limitations on government revenues and spending that relate to the household income of the citizens. Conservatives think it’s a wonderful thing and if anything would like to see it made stricter. One little gotcha is that it makes it impossible for the state to have a “rainy day fund” for hard economic times. We’re not the only state with such short sighted policies passed in the name of conservatism. Look at what happened in Colorado recently when it turned out that some of the calculations in their tax “reform” had some unintended consequences.

    In your comments about poverty you reveal one of my biggest disagreements with the American conservative philosophy. They assume that there are enough jobs for everyone to make a living. I harbor no such assumption. Here’s a NY Times piece on the issue and here’s a rather extensive article on Wikipedia. The employment statistics are questionable because when trumpeted as proof of how great the economy is they leave out a question that is difficult to ascertain, which is how many people aren’ being counted because they are “discouraged workers”, people who looked and looked and then just came to the conclusion that there was nothing in the job market for them? One number that is certainly never mentioned by the current administration is the number of people who are not participating in the work force as compared to the working age population. They also don’t mention the fact that in the real world all jobs aren’t created equal, but vary wildly in terms of wages and benefits and no, not everyone can work their way up so long as they work hard and get training. It’s a complete impossibility. Why? How many CEOs are there? How many employees at the lowest level of a business? Connect the dots and look at the shape. It’s a triangle, or a pyramid if you prefer. There’s less and less room the more you move up the structure and nothing can change that.

    PING:
    TITLE: A Reminder
    BLOG NAME: The Heretik

    The Cook Report on the coming November midterm elections tells the tale.
    . . . this is without question the worst political situation for the GOP since the Watergate disaster in 1974. I think a 30-seat gain today for Democrats is more likely to occu…

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