The dissaffected Republican elites
For many years, Bruce Bartlett has been the epitome of the loyal critic — someone who has defended the Bush administration on big questions while still highlighting his differences with the administration. According to the New York Times’ Richard Stevenson, Bartlett has joined the ranks of really disgruntled Republicans: In the latest sign of the ...
For many years, Bruce Bartlett has been the epitome of the loyal critic -- someone who has defended the Bush administration on big questions while still highlighting his differences with the administration. According to the New York Times' Richard Stevenson, Bartlett has joined the ranks of really disgruntled Republicans:
For many years, Bruce Bartlett has been the epitome of the loyal critic — someone who has defended the Bush administration on big questions while still highlighting his differences with the administration. According to the New York Times’ Richard Stevenson, Bartlett has joined the ranks of really disgruntled Republicans:
In the latest sign of the deepening split among conservatives over how far to go in challenging President Bush, Bruce Bartlett, a Republican commentator who has been increasingly critical of the White House, was dismissed on Monday as a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, a conservative research group based in Dallas. In a statement, the organization said the decision was made after Mr. Bartlett supplied its president, John C. Goodman, with the manuscript of his forthcoming book, “The Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy.” ….Like many economic conservatives, he has grown increasingly disenchanted with the current administration’s fiscal policy, arguing that Mr. Bush has tolerated if not encouraged a federal spending spree, dashing conservative hopes for progress toward a smaller, leaner government. He has also joined social conservatives in attacking Mr. Bush’s nomination of Harriet E. Miers to the Supreme Court. The Miers nomination, more than any other move by the administration in the last five years, has drawn criticism of Mr. Bush by conservative scholars and commentators, though the White House so far appears to have succeeded in limiting the breach with elected Republicans in Congress.
Matthew Yglesias doesn’t think this will amount to much:
Despite the tumult in the punditsphere, the latest Gallup poll shows Bush’s approval rating still sinking, but not sinking among conservatives. Instead, he’s managed to grow even more unpopular with Democrats and Independents. Not only is the rank-and-file still loyal to Bush, but dare I say that the pundits who matter are. Fox News and the talk radio hosts with big audiences are still in his corner. I work professionally in the exciting worlds of small magazines and new media, but the broadcast bohemoths are still the really influential segment of the press. If Rupert Murdoch decides to turn on the GOP leadership someday, then that would spell huge trouble for them, but there’s no indication that’s happening.
This is the message that is coming from Bush officials, according to Time:
Bush’s friends contend that it is the conservative ?lite, not the President, who miscalculated and that self-righteous right-wingers stand to lose their seats at the table of power for the next three years. “They’re crazy to take him on this frontally,” said a former West Wing official. “Not many people have done that with George Bush and lived to tell about it.” If a Justice Miers eventually takes her seat on the court, vocal critics can only hope the Bush Administration handles the punishment of the treasonous as poorly as it is currently promoting one of its most loyal subjects.
In the end, whether Yglesias (and Bush) are right or not revolves around two really, really big questions:
: 1) Do ideas matter in the short run? One could argue that the people Bush is losing right now have been the idea entrepreneurs. Matt is correct that Bush still has quite the firm grip over important policy and power levers. With a reduced bench for supplying supporting ideas, however, will that advantage hollow out? This Peter Baker story in the Washington Post suggests far from smooth sailing. 2) Will conservative criticism eventually permeate the mass conservative public? The current Gallup poll says no, but if the crack-up continues, there’s going to be some trickle-down.
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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