Fool Us Once..Ok, Fool Us Twice..
Two years later, another election looms, so what is the administration and Republicans to do? Well if you guessed pulling their playbook from 2002 and 2004, you guessed right! It is once again time to call Democrats weak on national security and to remind Americans that we are at war for an indefinite period of time against an enemy we cannot see or totally get rid of, so you need to once again stay the course. But will the strategy work again or is it getting too old? After Hurricane Katrina, Harriet Miers, Terri Schiavo, the Social Security debacle, Dubai Ports debacle, Jack Abramoff and Tom Delay corruption scandals, gas prices that may rise again after the election, the continued carnage in Iraq, declining US image and power abroad, and recently the Mark Foley scandal, it seems the American people are finally ready to say it is time for change, staying the course hasn’t worked so well.
I read some articles recently that illuminates what is to come. The first was Minimum Wage, Minimum Gall by Harold Meyerson and the second one ‘Republicans Losing the Security Moms by Jim VandeHei. Meyerson’s article finally said on paper what many Americans have come to fear about the Republican party - that is, Republican politics is about 1) What is good for the Republican Party and its donors, and 2) How can we stick it to the Democrats? Notably absent is the most important question that any politician should always ask, what is good for America as a whole? VandeHei’s article is probably the worst nightmare for the Republicans, it asserts that the so called security Moms who voted for Bush over Kerry in 2004 now have voter remorse and plan to vote Democratic. If you can’t win over security moms with your message of fear, who else can you turn to?
Be Afraid, be very afraid! This time around, it just doesn’t ring the same The American people aren’t that scared of terrorism anymore, may be we have come to accept it as a normal fact of life, or as Frank Rich succinctly put it, ‘the era of Americans fearing fear itself is over.’ We are more worried about our jobs staying in America, gas prices going up after elections, affordable healthcare and education, etc. So, Republicans may have been able to fool the public in 2002 and 2004, but to paraphrase President Bush, ‘You can fool the American people once..may be twice.. but after that you can’t get fooled again!’ The American people have come to the conclusion that when the choice comes down to choosing between a party that has proven how incompetent it is at home and abroad versus a party that looks good on paper but can’t seem to articulate its vision, they will rather give the benefit of doubt to the party that has been out of power. After all, it is just impossible for many Americans to imagine that anyone can be as incompetent as the Republicans have been.
And so it is that 2006 might be the waterloo for the brilliant or ruthless Karl Rove (depending on which side of the political spectrum you stand). In the past elections, the Republicans won by demonizing their opponents and playing to the nation’s fear in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. What is surprising time around is that almost all of the Republican woes have been self-inflicted with Democrats virtually standing by and watching in disbelief and glee. After the elections, if Republicans lose, most of them will blame the Mark Foley scandal, but the Foley scandal was just the nail in the coffin.
It could have been a different story. After 2004, President Bush never had to run another campaign in his life, so he could have governed from the middle, brought a divided nation together, and perhaps start building that ‘permanent majority’ Rove so craved, but he went after Social Security. FEMA could have been an effective response agency, but it was infected with incompetency a virus that afflicts this administration at every level. The State of Florida decided on Terri Schiavo’s fate, but Republicans decided State’s rights did not matter in this case. Republicans could have fought corruption, but instead they chose to take golf trips with Jack Abramoff. They could have reduced government spending, but instead the squandered the taxpayers’ money on bridges to nowhere and handed out Billions of dollars to their rich donor friends. They could have fixed Medicare, rather they used it as an opportunity to reward the drug companies. They could have focused on important issues such as healthcare, the economy and education, but instead they took up flag burning and gay marriage
Today with the benefit of hindsight, it is clear to most Americans that instead of going into Iraq, we could have fought a more effective war against terrorism someplace else. May be it is true that Iraq was an imminent threat to the American people, but most Americans never saw the threat and the administration never tried to convince other nations of our case. Today we are stuck with a laughable ‘coalition of the willing’ in Iraq but it is our brave men and women who are paying the ultimate price for the mistakes politicians made back in the comfort of their smug Washington office. For the taxpayer, it is a shock that a war that was supposed to pay for itself is costing us more than $1 Billion dollars a week. To date, we have spent close to $400 Billion already in Iraq - all money that future generations will have to eventually cough up somehow. Republicans controlled every branch of government but failed to do anything for the American people. No political party in contemporary American history has squandered such rare opportunity.
There are some who say that nothing good has come about from this administration and the GOP led congress, I respectfully disagree. If anything, they showed us exactly what things not to do when in power. Democrats would do well to remember the lessons of the Republican follies when they win this November!