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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Owned By The Base

Yesterday I wrote that the Beltway Boys were all saying that in order to weather the current storms, Bush needs to run to his base and it looks like Bush heard it. (They only listen to Fox in the White House, you know.)

I'm glad to see that the Democrats seem to be saying the obvious about the Miers nomination, which is that Bush is the right wing's love slave. This is important because it looks as though the "base strategy" is going to be the way Bush will govern for the rest of his term as well. The LA Times has an interesting article this morning discussing the White House strategy for dealing with the scandals --- push "tax reform" and "immigration." (Oh, and he's going to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict, too) Good luck with all that. You can run but you can't hide.

The right wing has been empowered by this "win." They are going to be more demanding than ever and Bush is going to have to accomodate them. This is both an opportunity and a danger for Democrats. If we frame the Republican party as being taken over by extremists who want to force average Americans to keep their 90 year old father alive on machines, then we can set ourselves up as the rational alternative. If, on the other hand, we position ourselves as simply against the "far right" it will be seen as a pissing match between the "far right and "far left," (which is anyone to the left of Ann Coulter.)

The Dems badly need to start using real stories to explain their positions. The rhetoric has become so abstract that nobody really understands what it means to them anymore. The president's base, the "right wing," are people who want to outlaw birth control and interfere with your medical decisions on religious grounds. I don't think people really realize that.

Bush is in real trouble, with his only option apparently to try to appease a base that is basically unappeasable. He's Phyllis Schlaffly's houseboy now. And with this taste of blood, the whole party is going to be more in the thrall of this minority than ever. But we won't be able to take advantage of it if we don't explain in terms people can understand why that is a problem.

The big national issues, of course, remain corruption and incompetence. But this is an issue that has salience in the congressional races where a little straight talk about the extreme right could go a long way. We need to develop some effective rhetoric for our candidates to use to illustrate the problem.

Update: Kos has an interesting tick-tock from the Hotline that suggests it really was Miers incompetence that did her in. Kos says:

It seems to me that Miers wasn't done in from a lack of conservative cred as the wingers want to believe. Bush was convinced she was like him and would've fought for her all the way through. She was done in from simple incompetence. Her responses to committee questions betrayed a complete lack of understanding of constitutional law. Her meager writings were incoherent. She was unable to articulate competence in meetings with senators

Of course, that doesn't mean that the wingnuts don't believe they won. We need to make sure the public believes they did. The narrative of the Miers nomination is that Bush nominated an incompetent crony that the right wing didn't believe was enough of a religious zealot.

Update II: Perhaps we could quote this guy:

Former Republican Sen. John Danforth said Wednesday that the political influence of evangelical Christians is hurting the Republican Party and dividing the country.


"I think that the Republican Party fairly recently has been taken over by the Christian conservatives, by the Christian right," he said in an interview. "I don't think that this is a permanent condition, but I think this has happened, and that it's divisive for the country."

He also said the evangelical Christian influence would be bad for the party in the long run.