Greetings, disenchanted conservatives
It’s no secret that I’ve been disenchanted with President Bush for some time now. Recently, it seems, a lot of conservatives have joined the club. Shailagh Murray and Jim VandeHei report in the Washington Post that Congressional Republicans are less than thrilled with the Bush administration: Congressional Republicans from across the ideological spectrum yesterday rejected ...
It's no secret that I've been disenchanted with President Bush for some time now. Recently, it seems, a lot of conservatives have joined the club. Shailagh Murray and Jim VandeHei report in the Washington Post that Congressional Republicans are less than thrilled with the Bush administration:
It’s no secret that I’ve been disenchanted with President Bush for some time now. Recently, it seems, a lot of conservatives have joined the club. Shailagh Murray and Jim VandeHei report in the Washington Post that Congressional Republicans are less than thrilled with the Bush administration:
Congressional Republicans from across the ideological spectrum yesterday rejected the White House’s open-wallet approach to rebuilding the Gulf Coast, a sign that the lockstep GOP discipline that George W. Bush has enjoyed for most of his presidency is eroding on Capitol Hill. Trying to allay mounting concerns, White House budget director Joshua B. Bolten met with Republican senators for an hour after their regular Tuesday lunch. Senators emerged to say they were annoyed by the lack of concrete ideas for paying the Hurricane Katrina bill. “Very entertaining,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said sarcastically as he left the session. “I haven’t heard any specifics from the administration.” “At least give us some idea” of how to cover the cost, said Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), who is facing reelection in 2006. “We owe that to the American taxpayer.” The pushback on Katrina aid, which the White House is also confronting among House Republicans, represents the loudest and most widespread dissent Bush has faced from his own party since it took full control of Congress in 2002. As polls show the president’s approval numbers falling, there is growing concern among lawmakers that GOP margins in Congress could shrink next year, and even rank-and-file Republicans are complaining that Bush is shirking the difficult budget decisions that must accompany the rebuilding bonanza. Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) said he and other fiscal conservatives are feeling “genuine concern [which] could easily turn into frustration and anger.” Congressional Republicans are not arguing with Bush’s pledge that the federal government will lead the Louisiana and Mississippi recovery. But they are insisting that the massive cost — as much as $200 billion — be paid for. Conservatives are calling for spending cuts to existing programs, a few GOP moderates are entertaining the possibility of a tax increase, and many in the middle want to freeze Bush tax cuts that have yet to take effect.
The conservative blogosphere is not really thrilled with the administration either: Orin Kerr blasts the new anti-porn crusade. Ed Morrissey concurs. Michelle Malkin looks at a new DHS appointee and says, “Oh, give me a ^*&%$# break and a half!” The Power Line concurs. And most conservatives — Glenn Reynolds most prominently — are as concerned as some in Congress (well, Tom Delay excepted) about the pork that should be cut to help with Katrina relief. So it was definitely amusing to read Pandagon’s Jesse Taylor write: “I find the conservative blogosphere to be one of the most closed-minded, insular, circular pits of denial I’ve ever encountered.” UPDATE: In Slate, John Dickerson thinks Bush might actually listen to fiscal hawks this time, but depresses me the likelihood of any long-term impact on either party:
The problem that always bedevils the fiscal conservatives is that they are directly targeting the horse-trading that makes government go. Start pulling out earmarks and you unravel support for the whole bill. Deny seniors their prescription-drug bill and you anger a bloc of voters far larger and more influential than those watching the pennies. When social conservatives balk, they represent massive organized blocs of voters who have shown their willingness to stay home. When fiscal conservatives balk, only a few thousand ornery Republicans in New Hampshire and Arizona abandon the party. Can the Democrats grab this angry constituency? Not likely. The Democratic Party hasn’t shown bristling accounting leadership recently. “After the Democrats’ obstructionist approach to Social Security reform, it is more difficult for them to claim the mantle of fiscal responsibility,” says Maya MacGuineas of the Committee for a Responsible Budget. John Kerry and John Edwards both gave speeches Tuesday calling for a new era of leadership to address the challenges posed by the hurricane and the poverty that it exposed, but neither called for sacrifice or any painful tradeoffs. After days of weighty speeches on the topics of race and poverty in America, lawmakers from both parties have reverted to the familiar evasions. The bucks are passing, the deficit will keep growing, and the fiscal conservatives will stay very, very angry.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Man, you get linked by Andrew Sullivan, the National Journal, and Howard Kurtz, and suddenly it’s a party. So, a few corrections, responses, and extensions:
1) To Howard Kurtz: er… I didn’t write what you quoted me declaring — that was Josh Yelon. I’m always grateful for a link, but next time please click through Andrew’s link to confirm attribution. 2) Hugh Hewitt thinks this Bush’s dip in the polls just temporary:
It is the sort of thing I recall from the 1986 Iran-Contra period in the Reagan years, when the Gipper’s approval rating hit 46%. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1989. So, it is more than premature to be dancing on W’s political grave.
Hey, I made this point eighteen months ago. And if Iraq turns out OK and Al Qaeda collapses, Hewitt is 100% correct. I’m just a bit more dubious about the odds of this happening than Hewitt. 3) More thoughts on small-government conservatism here.
Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner
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