AMERICANS IN DISFAVOR OF GOP AND DEMOCRATS
The Washington Post (registration required) reports this morning that voters are increasingly unhappy with their elected representatives in Washington D.C. and that their discontent spares neither party:
One bright spot for the Republicans is the low regard in which many Americans hold the Democrats. The public sees the Democrats as disorganized, lacking in clear ideas or a positive alternative to the GOP agenda, and bereft of appealing leaders. In the Post-ABC News poll, voters gave Washington low grades without favor: Just 35 percent said they approved of the job Republicans in Congress were doing, while only 41 percent gave a positive rating to the Democrats.
One would think the GOP would sieze on this and begin leveraging its majorities in the House and the Senate; and, one would think that the president would begin playing hardball in reigning in out-of-control spending by using his presidential veto powers.
The results of the Post-ABC News poll are consistent with sentiments I expressed in my previous post. Americans are becoming increasingly restive over the war in Iraq -- the losses in American blood and treasure, and with no apparent end in sight. And many must wonder: "And what comes next after Iraq?" President Bush has not communicated frequently and clearly and in profound ways on the global war on terror, and he needs to. And in doing so, he must not patronize American voters with his endless concatenation of careworn bromides and cliches, most of which Americans can now recite by heart. And, to be sure, it would give Americans some comfort that progress is indeed being made if the Commander-In-Chief would make periodic trips to the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan to rally the troops and to demonstrate his leadership. The president should read some histories of Lincoln and the Civil War. Lincoln went to his field commanders to assess the situation and frequently; the field commanders were seldom asked to come to the White House. When Bush avoids Iraq month after month after month it necessarily causes Americans to think that all these many months and years later, it's still not safe for the leader of our nation and its armed forces to travel to the war zone for briefings!
As WaPo's staff writers portray:
In shopping malls, town hall meetings and on front porches, Americans expressed their concerns about the country's problems. The president still has strong supporters, but more common are questions about his and the country's priorities. A young mother in the Denver suburbs complained about the state of public education. An Ohio retiree complained about energy prices and said, "We're getting ripped off left and right by the oil companies." Immigration appears to be a volatile issue far from the U.S.-Mexico border. And looming over all else is the U.S. involvement in Iraq, which continues to gnaw at the country's psyche.
And, even more telling:
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), the architect of the 1994 GOP victory, said Republicans must take the initiative or risk serious losses next year. "If we regroup and reclaim the mantle of reform and change, we are likely to win '06 and '08," he said. "If we do not regroup, we are likely to have a very difficult '06 and '08."
Republicans believe that, given clear choices, voters will continue to favor candidates who preach, if not always practice, smaller government and who favor lower taxes and the vigorous pursuit of terrorists. But the Republican coalition is showing signs of fraying after almost 11 years of nearly continuous majority status. Conservatives have rebelled against some of Bush's priorities, and moderates are voicing increasing disaffection with their leaders.
Bush was burned badly and needlessly over his misguided nomination of Harriet Miers. But the base will rally to him if he gets up off the mat and leads. Along with the need to make an objective, intelligent case for the GWOT, the president must abandon his penchant for amnesty and liberal Guest Worker Programs for illegal aliens and secure our nation's porous borders. Homeland Security is no more than a platitude when 10,000 illegal aliens are breeching our borders daily and 11+ million are roaming our country at will and feeding off of us. Border security must precede immigration reform. Fact is, illegal immigration is a front burner issue for American voters even if it is not for the White House and most members of Congress. This issue, if left unaddressed, can only exacerbate the perception that insurgent-terrorists hold sway in Iraq. If the Bush administration cannot control America's borders in an age of terrorism, how can it ever defeat terrorism abroad? That linkage has been lost on the White House!
Bush must start playing hardball with the obstructionist left-wing of the Democratic Party, rather than being its favorite whipping boy. He needs to take on Kennedy, Pelosi, Boxer, Dean, Durbin, and Schumer, and the rest of their ilk (including the disgraceful Jimmy Carter). The do-nothing, no-ideas Democratic Party needs to be run through the GOP sawmill and turned into mulch. The president cannot sit idly by while the Democrats hammer him repeatedly, claiming that he lied to the country about why this nation needed to invade Iraq and depose Saddam Hussein. The president cannot keep taking salvos across the bow that he heads a corrupt administration without returning fire and engaging the enemy in a blistering counter-attack.
The handwriting is on the wall if the president doesn't get his sea legs back soon:
Two-thirds of those surveyed by The Post and ABC News said the country is heading in the wrong direction. Asked whom they were likely to support in next year's House elections, 52 percent of registered voters said the Democratic candidate, while 37 percent said the Republican. While this testing of generic preferences is not always a reliable indicator of elections, the result suggests that Republicans for now are in trouble.
When asked which party they trusted to handle the main problems facing the nation, registered voters preferred Democrats by 49 percent to 38 percent. On the eve of the 2002 midterms, when the GOP defied historical trends by gaining House and Senate seats, Republicans led on that question among those most likely to vote by 51 percent to 39 percent.
FOLLOW-UP: Seems Mark Tapscott is in agreement with me on the president's inexplicable reluctance to take the gloves off!
FOLLOW-UP: Lorie Bryd of Polipundit also wants the president to put on the gloves and come out of his corner to the center of the ring.