The GOP held a conference over the weekend, ostensibly to prepare for the November elections. Naturally, it’s also an easy chance to stage a presidential run among many party leaders. With nearly three years left under President Bush, I’m more amused by the posturing than who is and isn’t the front-runner. Of note is the Reagan mantra that I suspect will be prevalent until November 2008, if it’s successful. Given how Pavlovian the Republican response is to President Reagan, I suspect it will be. As evidence, consider:
“Now that he’s gone, he’s become a symbolic figure,” said Phil Zimmerly, 23, a law student from Tuscaloosa, Ala., adding that might happen to President Bush in 20 or 30 years.
“Reagan had a record all the way through and it turned out all right. This one’s not over. The jury’s still out,” said John Griffee, 77, of Marion, Ark., about Bush’s legacy. “A couple of things go right in the next six months, this will be a whole different game.”
I’ve said before that I hope that can happen, but only because I’m not interested in seeing President Bush fail. However, I’ve been paying attention for the last five years. I have no confidence in what will happen in the next three years. The jury might be out, and I can’t wait to see the revisionism once President Bush leaves office, but contrary to Mr. Griffee’s hope, it’s precisely because a couple of things have to go right for Bush’s legacy to be better. Relying on external forces to save your reputation is not a great reflection on how much you deserve to be the party’s future symbolic future.
This next assessment is more telling on the state of the GOP, since it implies a significant portion of the problem while deflecting the appropriate blame:
“We’re a party in fear right now. We’re a party trying not to lose,” [Sen. Lindsey] Graham said.
Congress bears part of the blame because members have spent money poorly and failed to curb ethics abuses, Graham said, but Bush has made missteps, too: “We didn’t have enough troops in Iraq, we didn’t have our political antennae up about the port deal. He hasn’t vetoed any spending bills. He needs to.“
President Bush hasn’t vetoed any spending bills, or any other bills, but they don’t show up on his desk by magic. Maybe Sen. Graham and his colleagues should consider not sending bills worthy of being vetoed. Until that happens, I can only conclude that they don’t care about fiscal responsibility, and spend money recklesslessly because they know they can get away with it. When the election slogan could be “We’re better than the Democrats,” the party isn’t really leading. Being followed is dangerous to everyone once you’ve bankrupted your principles.