by John Hawkins | September 12, 2005 3:00 am
This week-end, as I pondered the massive political spin the Democrats & their allies in the mainstream media engaged in after hurricane Katrina, I had an epiphany.
Bush started campaigning in early 2004, continued right up to the elections, then Bush moved on from there to governing. However, that’s not the case for the Democrats and the allies in the mainstream media. For them, the 2004 campaign NEVER REALLY ENDED. Sure, their candidate may have lost, but very little changed for them. They haven’t come up with any new ideas, they haven’t worked with Republicans to make the country better; instead they’ve put together an agenda that revolves around one simple goal: get Bush.
Maybe the Bush team has already realized that. If so, after having watched W., I can guess his strategy. In a way, it’s almost like an old military strategy. You allow your opponents to attack as you strategically retreat and then when they’re tired and their supply lines are overextended, you counterattack and smash them.
That’s a big part of how W. won the election in 2004. From 2000-early 2004 he stuck to his “new tone.” He rarely criticized the Democrats, he reached out to them, and then he ignored them when they went overboard. Then, when the time was right in early 2004, the Bush administration went on the offensive and buried the Democrats with their own words.
Unfortunately for W., 10 months of unanswered attacks after a grueling election are starting to wear him down. His approval rating is down to 39% in an AP/Ipsos poll. That’s not fatal, Reagan was at 35% at one point back in 1983, but, it’s very difficult for a President to govern when his approval rating is that low. Bush’s supporters aren’t energized, other Republicans may be feeling pressure to distance themselves from him, and W’s effectiveness is generally limited by his low popularity.
That’s why W. has got to go ahead and start pushing back, especially on Katrina and the war in Iraq. The local officials in New Orleans were completely incompetent, they need to be called on it. The Democrats are insisting we unconditionally surrender to terrorism by cutting and running in Iraq; bust them for it.
The Bush administration needs to force the Democrats to go on the defensive in other key areas as well. Instead of continuing to plug Social Security when the Democrats are blocking it, accuse them of endangering the future of Social Security by refusing to act. Propose a Balanced Budget Amendment and let the Democrats demand that we not control spending. Bush’s immigration plan should be cut in half and he should start things out by promoting a plan that’s tough on enforcement and has no “amnesty” provisions in it. Then, let the Democrats yowl that enforcing controlling the border is racist, while Bush takes a tough enforcement position favored by 70% of the American public. Keep the suspension of EPA rules in place indefinitely, so that no more fuel blends are required. Let the Democrats demand the rules be put back in place for environmental reasons, then slam them for wanting higher gas prices.
Go on the offensive and prove that the GOP is still the party of ideas while the Democrats are the party of mindless obstructionism. The Bush administration shouldn’t allow themselves to be used as a punching bag until next year or W. could turn out to be an albatross around the neck of GOP candidates. Instead, the Bushies need to get back into campaign mode, turn Rove loose, start counter-punching, and make the Democrats pay a price for their intransigence.
With a strong economy in place as well as gas prices that will likely drop, another Supreme Court nominee to select, the trial of Saddam coming up, Iraqi elections, and the likelihood that a significant cut in US troops in Iraq is coming, all over the next few months, there’s no reason Bush shouldn’t be able to pull his approval rating back up above 50% in a relatively short time as long as the Bushies start to go on the offensive. But remember, the time to get started is now, not next year!
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