Wednesday, September 28

THE REPUBLICAN BASE JUST ISN'T EXCITED

Count me in in that equation! Bush is turning me off and I am tuning him out. And so are many others who similarly voted for him.

Betsy Newmark points this morning to a column by Fred Barnes in "The Daily Standard" that makes a good case that the Republican base isn't enthralled with the current list of likely candidates for the party's presidential nomination in 2008. And the non-candidates (what Patrick Ruffini in his monthly Straw Polls terms as "fantasy candidates") who would likely inspire the base -- e.g., Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, and Jeb Bush -- appear to be just that: adamant non-candidates.

Just as Ruffini left Newt Gingrich out of the roster on his "Main Ballot," so too does Fred Barnes not even make mention of him in his column. I regard that as a serious oversight. In my book, he's the sleeper candidate (currently testing the waters) who could resurrect the enthusiasm of the Reagan era and restore a capital "C" to the word Conservative.

Why am I disheartened as one who voted for George Bush in 2000 and again in 2008?

1) Porous borders and an abject neglect in dealing with the illegal immigration problem, which represent a material contradiction in terms with the president's avowed determination to win the war on terrorism (his credibility is shot) -- the man is looking the other way while our country is being invaded;

2) Lack of fiscal restraint -- the president and the Republican-controlled Congress spend like drunken democrats and have failed to date to excise pork and identify necessary offsets given the need for huge expenditures for the war in Iraq and the Katrina-Rita disasters; Bush, no matter his words to the contrary, is an incorrigible proponent of Big Government;

3) A fundamental failure to articulate conservative Republican principles -- i.e., Bush has become the antithesis of Ronald Reagan and is anything but a "Great Communicator";

4) Failure to formulate a comprehensive energy policy.

I agree with Fred Barnes: the Republican Party is in serious, fundamental trouble in terms of retaining the White House in 2008.

As the editors of National Review" have written:

President Bush is in a perilous political state. His slipping poll numbers are partly a result of softening support from his Republican base. If Bush doesn't take decisive steps to try to offset the billions of new Katrina spending, the forecast will be: Danger, more softening ahead. Never in the Bush years has conservative discontent been so high, nor so justified. With a few false moves in the crucial weeks ahead, Bush could see even more of the life-blood squeezed from his presidency.

If the Democratic Party could ever find it within itself to jettison its far left, extremist fringe that continues to dominate the party, it might find some easier sailing in the roiled waters of a conservative movement that has lost its True North.