Monday, February 27, 2006

GOP Governors Say Bush's Missteps Hurting

Now this is interesting. When you've got the GOP governors claiming that the White House scandals, missteps, and screw-ups are hurting the Republican Party during a midterm election year, you know you're in trouble. This if from Yahoo News:

WASHINGTON - Republican governors are openly worrying that the Bush administration's latest stumbles — from the natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina to those of its own making on prescription drugs and ports security — are taking an election-year toll on the party back home.

The GOP governors reluctantly acknowledge that the series of gaffes threatens to undermine public confidence in President Bush's ability to provide security, which has long been his greatest strength among voters.

"You've got solid conservatives coming up speaking like they haven't before, it's likely that something's going on at the grass roots," said Republican Mark Sanford of South Carolina. "Whether it's temporary or not remains to be seen."

The unease was apparent from interviews with more than a dozen governors over the weekend, including nearly half of the Republicans attending the winter meeting of the National Governors Association. The annual conference was taking place in a capital enthralled by the political firestorm over government plans to approve takeover of operations at some terminals at six U.S. ports by a company owned by the United Arab Emirates government.

Democrats see opportunity, and even those in conservative states say the administration's missteps will have a ripple effect politically at home. "I do think there's a considerable degree of skepticism about what's been happening at the federal level," said Democrat Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas. "If you didn't pick it up on Katrina, you did when you tried to help your parents" get drugs through the new Medicare program.

But it wasn't Bush's political opponents alone who saw weaknesses. So did his allies — listing the days of chaos in New Orleans after the hurricane, the nationwide confusion over the drug prescription program that forced many states to step in to help seniors get medications, and the ports security debacle that has drawn criticism from leading Republicans in Congress and the states.

"I don't think he was well served on the port issue by the bureaucracy," said Republican Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho, who is leading a united front of governors pushing back on potential reductions to National Guard forces. "He's at the forefront on national security. When you combine this flap on the ports, and these potential cuts on the military, you need to make sure that issue doesn't slip away. It's one of his strengths."

He also said the lack of communication from the administration on the Guard issue has been a problem. "There has been too much we have learned outside the loop. It's time we be inside the loop."

Republican Bob Taft of Ohio offered judgment on Katrina: "This is hindsight, but it was a mistake to bury FEMA under the Department of
Homeland Security."

In his state, where manufacturing job losses have left much of the Midwest lagging behind the improved economies that much of the rest of the country has seen in the past two years, the economy plays a bigger role. "There's a sense it's more wrong direction than right track. That affects how they feel about the president, it affects how they feel about anybody in power. It's bound to play some role in the elections" for Congress and the governors race.

The Republican governors are right to be worried. This Bush White House is serving for both its own self-interest in accumulating dictatorial power, and in the interests of corporate cronyism. President Bush's contempt for this country, and for the democratic ideals that are found in the Constitution is now being realized by the American public--when you have conservatives questioning the sale of American ports to a Middle Eastern government-controlled country, you've got a problem here. When a majority of the American public polled feels that this country is on the wrong track, and the White House refuses to even look at these polls while claiming they know what's right for the country, you've got a major problem here.

The GOP governors know that the Bush administration's dicatorial rule is going to damage the Republican Party in the long run. Five years of neoconservative / religious right-wingnut rule is starting to fracture the Republican Party. You've got fiscal conservatives that are starting to worry about the spiraling deficit and out-of-control government spending. You've got small government conservatives who will worry about increased government spying on American citizens. The governors can see these issues being raised at the sate and local levels. They have a greater contact with the American public--both Republicans and Democrats--than the White House-generated PR rallies that are stocked with only pro-Bush supporters. And not only is this a problem with the Republicans, but the Democrats under DNC chairman Howard Dean has been investing Democratic Party resources into state and local campaigns, setting up a party structure of new Democratic leaders to challenge the Republicans for future congressional and presidential races.

We'll have to see what happens in this election, and in 2008.

No comments: