GOP Fingerpointing Begins Bigtime
Some people are very angry at parts of the Republican party leadership. Mainly, Republicans, the AP reports:
Narrowly defeated in his bid for a fourth term, Montana Sen. Conrad Burns turned his anger on the National Republican Senatorial Committee and commercials it had run months before the election.
”The ads hurt me more than they helped. I wouldn’t have spent the money,” he said, his comments characteristic of the season of second-guessing now unfolding among Republicans.
President Bush’s low approval ratings, the unpopular war on Iraq, voter concern about corruption and Democratic fundraising all figured in the GOP loss of Senate control in last month’s elections. But among Republicans, long-hidden tensions are spilling into view, with numerous critics venting their anger at the GOP Senate campaign committee headed by North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole.
We’re seeing the beginning of The Night Of Long Political Knives which is not just about revenge but about trying to fix things that proved to be political broken last time around. And the GOP needs a big toolbox:
In recent interviews, officials said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., as well as Ken Mehlman, the party chairman, set up outside checks on the committee at critical points in the campaign.
The AP’s report suggests that Mehlman and Frist’s intervention prevented a bad situation from getting worse. But the anger isn’t just aimed at the wife of America’s most famous Viagra user:
Numerous Republicans also have displayed anger at Bush for the party’s election losses, in particular his decision to wait until after the election to replace Donald H. Rumsfeld as defense secretary.
”If Rumsfeld had been out, you bet it would have made a difference,” said Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., who was not on the ballot but lost some of his power nonetheless. ”I’d still be chairman of the Judiciary Committee.”
And then there was issue that apparently the White House wished would go away — but didn’t:
Some Republicans, including at the Senate campaign committee, complain that the White House and the RNC were urging candidates to use the fight against terrorism as a campaign issue, but offered no advice on combating voter anger on the war in Iraq — an issue that one official referred to as the ”800-pound elephant in the room.”
The piece has the usual boilerplate quotes from people on the record defending Senator Dole, people who are probably are less effusive in private.
The bottom line is that the GOP machinery didn’t do as well in matching or surpassing the Democrats’. And the “800-pound elephant” remains in the room, particularly as the administration gears up to send more troops to Iraq in a “surge.” It wouldn’t be surprising to see GOP shakeup in leadership designated to oversee the 2008 campaign…very soon.