Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The 18th Brumaire of George W. Bush

The full impact of Tuesday's elections are not yet known to us. Two seats in the Senate, Virginia and Montana, remain undetermined. It is likely that Virginia will not be certain until a recount later this month. However, the damage done to the Republicans in the House is certain. It also appears more likely than not that Virginia and Montana will go to the Democrats.

In addition to a difficult national landscape for George W. Bush, the GOP faces losses in state governments as well.

The Seattle Times:
Democrats and their supporters have poured millions of dollars into the state Senate races this election in an effort to increase their majority. They targeted several seats held by Republican senators, many of whom were not seeking re-election.

Democrats now hold a narrow 26-23 majority in the Senate, with a conservative member, Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlach, who often sides with Republicans. They have a larger majority in the House.

Having a bigger Senate majority would let Democrats press for additional funding for public education and health care, said Brown, the Senate majority leader.
The Hartford Courant:
By late Tuesday, state Democratic leaders were claiming veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate, the first time that has happened in 26 years.

House Democrats were expecting to win 103 seats, giving them two more than the two-thirds majority of the 151 seats they would need to override vetoes from Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, said Larry Perosino, spokesman for House Democrats.
The Chicago Tribune:
The favorable outlook gave Jones hope that he could expand upon his 32-27 majority as he took aim at several seats against Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson (R-Greenville).

With votes still coming in throughout the state, Senate Republican spokeswoman Patty Schuh said "it is not a good night for Republicans."

Gaining four Democratic Senate seats would give Jones a supermajority—the 36 votes that can allow one caucus to override a governor's veto or pass construction bond packages through his chamber.

Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, with a current 65-53 edge, hoped at least to hold the seats in his column for battles with House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego). Already, Madigan had begun making calls to lock in votes from his Democrats for another two-year term, according to one Democratic lawmaker.
The New York Times:
CHICAGO, Nov. 7 — Democrats won open governor’s seats in five states Tuesday and knocked off the Republican incumbent in Maryland, tilting control of the majority of governorships to Democrats for the first time since the 1990s.
Further analysis is needed, but if Howard Dean has been able to improve the Democratic "get out the vote" organization, it will have a substantial impact on the next few elections. Turn out does appear to be very high for a mid-term election.

George W. Bush took over the presidency without a great deal of vision beyond cutting taxes, modernizing the military and spending government money on faith-based initiatives. After 9/11 and additional GOP victories in the 2002 mid-term elections, Bush expanded his ambitions. There was talk of Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman building a GOP majority that would last for a generation. In 2004, Bush explained that he had acquired political capital; he moved on social security and immigration reform. Both initiatives failed. With his political capital spent, Bush has struggled through natural and foreign policy disasters.

At this point, Bush is an official lame duck president. His initiatives languish.

The goal of transforming the military has developed into a conflict between traditionalists in the armed forces who adhere to the Powell Doctrine against an increasingly unpopular Secretary of Defense. With Democrats in control of at least one house of Congress, Don Rumsfeld will be forced to address the situation in Iraq with far greater oversight.

Faith based initiatives have not lived up to their envisioned potential. Former administration official David Kuo questioned the impact that the plan has had and the amount of money actually provided, the Washington Post.

The Washington Post in September, 2006:
The Bush administration's faith-based initiative is reaching only a tiny percentage of the nation's black churches, most of which have limited capacity to run social programs, hampering the initiative's promise of empowering those congregations to help the needy, according to a study to be released today.

The national survey of 750 black churches by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies found that fewer than 3 percent are participating in the program, which funnels at least $2 billion a year in federal social services spending to religious organizations.
This program was geared toward the social conservative base of the Republican party and to traditionally Democratic voters who frequent church services. Exit polling, which is dubious at best, indicated that evangelical voters were troubled with the climate in Washington, D.C. The results of both this program and yesterday's elections indicate that the initiative did not realize the envisioned potential.

In a related note, the efforts by Rove, Mehlman and Bush to expand the base of GOP voters appear to have hit an impasse. Poor governance eclipsed mediocre alterations to government funding to send more money to faith based groups.

Bush has been able to keep the tax cuts, and will veto anything the Democrats send his way. However, the Republican party's traction on this issue is limited. Tax cuts will always be popular, but Democrats have begun to differentiate tax cuts for the middle class compared to those that benefit the wealthiest of Americans. With income stagnant for the middle class, this differentiation will be vital.

Peter Baker and Jim VandeHei of the Washington Post note:
The political pendulum in American politics swung away from the right yesterday, putting an end to the 12-year Republican Revolution on Capitol Hill and delivering a sharp rebuke of President Bush and the Iraq war.

The GOP reign in the House that began with Newt Gingrich in a burst of vision and confrontation in 1994 came crashing down amid voter disaffection with congressional corruption. The collapse of one-party rule in Washington will transform Bush's final two years in office and challenge Democrats to make the leap from angry opposition to partners in power.
George W. Bush has lost more than just control of a branch of government. He has wrought the end of the Republican Revolution. There are many political battles before the next election that can change the political landscape in dramatic ways. But, Bush and minions devoted to power have undone the principles of Newt Gingrich, the ideals of the Contract with America.

Karl Marx noted the farce of Louis Napoleon:
Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. ... And just as they seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language.

But unheroic though bourgeois society is, it nevertheless needed heroism, sacrifice, terror, civil war, and national wars to bring it into being. And in the austere classical traditions of the Roman Republic the bourgeois gladiators found the ideals and the art forms, the self-deceptions, that they needed to conceal from themselves the bourgeois-limited content of their struggles and to keep their passion on the high plane of great historic tragedy. Similarly, at another stage of development a century earlier, Cromwell and the English people had borrowed from the Old Testament the speech, emotions, and illusions for their bourgeois revolution. When the real goal had been achieved and the bourgeois transformation of English society had been accomplished, Locke supplanted Habakkuk.

Thus the awakening of the dead in those revolutions served the purpose of glorifying the new struggles, not of parodying the old; of magnifying the given task in the imagination, not recoiling from its solution in reality; of finding once more the spirit of revolution, not making its ghost walk again.

From 1848 to 1851, only the ghost of the old revolution circulated - from Marrast, the républicain en gants jaunes [Republican in yellow gloves], who disguised himself as old Bailly, down to the adventurer who hides his trivial and repulsive features behind the iron death mask of Napoleon. A whole nation, which thought it had acquired an accelerated power of motion by means of a revolution, suddenly finds itself set back into a defunct epoch, and to remove any doubt about the relapse, the old dates arise again – the old chronology, the old names, the old edicts, which had long since become a subject of antiquarian scholarship, and the old minions of the law who had seemed long dead.
History repeats itself and the American people are a political pendulum. After the devastation and shock of Katrina, Bush and the GOP lost their moral authority. But waters have tilted political power before. The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 established the infrastructure in popular understanding for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The momentum of the pendulum is uncertain. The GOP may yet return to the principles that gave it spirit and power in 1994 -- they may even call upon Newt Gingrich to play that role once again. Or, perhaps it will be John McCain. What seems clear, at this point, is that both parties will need to govern from the center -- to convince the center that the vision each party advocates is the best path for America. Let us hope that there is a convincing argument that proves very effective in swaying the voters and bettering America.

UPDATE: 1300 EST.

Rumsfeld will step down, as announced by CNN. His position is untenable with the Democrats in control of the House and with many now ousted GOP officials having called for his resignation.

UPDATE: 1320 EST

Removing Rumsfeld and having President Bush speak today are both attempts to regain some footing after a tough loss for the GOP.

UPDATE: 1330 EST

Bush will nominate Robert Gates to head Defense. Gates was Bush 41's Director of Central Intelligence. (Let us all take a long, hard look at that pre-Baker report Tea Leaf.)

UPDATE: 1615 EST

Gates in his own words...


From a Frontline interview:
So the President started the fire, but the flue was closed, and so the Oval Office quickly filled with smoke. And we were all sitting there trying to look cool as we were choking on the smoke and finally Dick Cheney got up and went out and found the Secret Service man who could open the flue and, Dick was even looking for a fire extinguisher. And anyway we ended up having this meeting in the middle of February with all the doors to the Oval Office including to the outside open to try and get the smoke out of the room. And all of us reeking of this wood smoke from this failed attempt to have a fire in the fire place. The basic issue at the meeting was how to deal with Gorbachev, and it was a repetition of the basic argument that had been going on from August. And Dick Cheney and my recollection is that Brent as well, were basically inclined to tell him to buzz off. To not get in the way, and that what he was proposing was totally unacceptable. The President and Baker were much more inclined to go back to Gorbachev and very carefully point out the shortcomings and the proposal for the ceasefire and how it didn't require the Iraqis to leave immediately, it made no provisions for a whole host of things, such as the repatriation of Kuwaiti, wealth, and reconstruction of Kuwait and so on and so forth. And that was ultimately the decision that was made. But the back and forth of the meeting was basically about how to go back to Gorbachev. I didn't have the sense at the time that, people believed, the entire enterprise was about to go off the rails. It was really more a tactical question of how to deal with Gorbachev in a way that would try and go the last mile to keep the Soviets on board. There was no question in my mind that the President was going to order the commencement of the land war. And it didn't matter what Gorbachev said or thought.
Gates in TIME Magazine in 2002, on the difficulty of good intelligence that can thwart an attack.

6 Comments:

Blogger Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

Superb post my dear C.E.
"Nothing to add, nothing to retract" as another famous 19th century Frenchman famously said
V

1:19 PM  
Anonymous The Hammer said...

Leave it to the GOP to steal the spotlight on a sweeping loss.

I mean, can't they just let the left have a full news cycle? They have to announce the big resignation and steal the spotlight?!?!

1:22 PM  
Blogger Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

UPDATE:
I liked it so much that I copied/pasted it as it is on my blog!

1:53 PM  
Blogger Praguetwin said...

Great round up. Thanks.

I expect Gates to have an awfully hard time getting in... as he should.

12:16 PM  
Blogger Publia said...

Hi Edit Copy,

Well its all over now, and we will soon find out the direction of the new direction.

This isn't a comment for your blog, its a link to Andy Carvin's blog http://www.andycarvin.com/archives/2006/11/adopt_a_fourlegged_war_veteran.html
in hopes you could help give some publicity to the "Dogs of War" who need US owners. I can understand if you don't want to cover this, but maybe you have some blogging friends in the area who can give some coverage to this important cause. Thanks.

9:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now. Keep it up!
And according to this article, I totally agree with your opinion, but only this time! :)

11:20 PM  

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