7 comments March 28th, 2007at 11:51am Posted by Eli
Harold Meyerson wonders just WTF the Republicans are thinking:
The truly astonishing thing about the latest scandals besetting the Bush administration is that they stem from actions the administration took after the November elections, when Democratic control of Congress was a fait accompli.
During last year’s congressional campaigns, Republicans spent a good deal of time and money predicting that if the Democrats won, Congress would become one big partisan fishing expedition led by zealots such as Henry Waxman. The Republicans’ message didn’t really impress the public, and apparently it didn’t reach the president and his underlings, either. Since the election, they have continued merrily along with their mission to politicize every governmental function and agency as if their allies still controlled Congress, as if the election hadn’t happened.
Clearly, they had grown accustomed to the Congress of the past six years, whose oversight policy towards the administration was “Anything Goes.” But their total and apparently ongoing inability to shift gears once the Democrats had taken control — with an oversight policy that could be summarized as “You Did WHAT?” — is mind-boggling.
Democrats such as Waxman clearly had planned to hold hearings on the administration’s hitherto-unexamined follies of the past six years. Instead, the most high-profile investigations they’re conducting concern administration follies of the past five months, since they won the election.
[C]ongressional Republicans were knocked into the minority last November because voters had sickened of their lockstep support for Bush’s war. Clearly, they will be knocked a good deal further into the minority if that support continues.
So what are they doing to respond to this dire state of affairs? They’re continuing their support. And they’re continuing, in the Senate, to obstruct popular and overdue domestic measures such as a raise in the minimum wage, though polling confirms not just overwhelming support for that particular measure but also growing concern over the rise of economic inequality and a growing repudiation of the Republican positions on both domestic and foreign policy issues.
Meyerson then offers four possible explanations for why the Republicans are so staggeringly out of touch: They’re hoping for a clean-handed outsider presidential candidate like Rudy to save them; they plan to obstruct everything and then blame Democrats for the lack of progress; they’ve come to believe their own hype; and/or they’re simply incapable of good government.
I’m not sold on that first one, but the other three all sound very plausible. Some other possibilities that came to mind:
Desperation. The Republicans need all the extra help they can get in 2008, so they’re taking more risks to stack the deck in their favor. Or maybe it’s a calculated strategy to distract the Mean Oversight People away from much, much worse offenses committed when they thought their oversight-free majority would be eternal.
Arrogance. The media has been so tame, and so willing to ignore, softpedal, or spin damaging storylines that the Republicans think they can get away with murder. And if not for the blogosphere (and Pat Leahy), they would have.
Meanness. In-your-face bullying is just What They Do.
Fear. Maybe it’s not so much that they believe the extremist right-wing hype, as that they’re afraid their own hypers will turn on them if they try to move to the center.
Rep Van Winkle. They just can’t accept that it’s not late 2001/early 2002 anymore, and that Dubya no longer has a 90%, blank check approval rating.
They’re just stupid.