Sunday, November 13, 2005
by Steven D
Sat Nov 12th, 2005 at 03:41:55 PM EDT
A confidential memo circulating among senior Republican leaders suggests that a new attack by terrorists on U.S. soil could reverse the sagging fortunes of President George W. Bush as well as the GOP and "restore his image as a leader of the American people."
The closely-guarded memo lays out a list of scenarios to bring the Republican party back from the political brink, including a devastating attack by terrorists that could “validate” the President’s war on terror and allow Bush to “unite the country” in a “time of national shock and sorrow.”
The memo says such a reversal in the President's fortunes could keep the party from losing control of Congress in the 2006 midterm elections.
The memo outlines other scenarios, including:
--Capture of Osama bin Laden (or proof that he is dead);
--A drastic turnaround in the economy;
--A "successful resolution" of the Iraq war.
GOP memos no longer talk of “victory” in Iraq but use the term “successful resolution.”
“A successful resolution would be us getting out intact and civil war not breaking out until after the midterm elections,” says one insider.
The memo circulates as Tuesday’s disastrous election defeats have left an already dysfunctional White House in chaos, West Wing insiders say, with shouting matches commonplace and the blame game escalating into open warfare.
“This place is like a high-school football locker room after the team lost the big game,” grumbles one Bush administration aide. “Everybody’s pissed and pointing the finger at blame at everybody else.”
This can't be right can it? I mean wasn't it only yesterday we were reading reports of Rove getting a bounce back in his step again?
"I've noticed a big difference," said one Republican in regular contact with Mr. Rove who declined to speak for attribution because the White House did not authorize it. "There's a spring in his step, more focus, more - something. Some sort of weight off his shoulders."
. . . A senior administration official said Mr. Rove was back "in a good mood," sending off rapid-fire e-mail, sticking his head into meetings uninvited and acting in a familiar, mischievous manner.
Now these can't both be right. One suggests internal dissent and backbiting among Republicans, and a sense of doom and gloom. The other, that everything is all back to normal under the benevolent, congenial hand of Karl "that little mischievous imp" Rove.
Now I know Capitol Hill Blue is not the most respected outlet in the great wide media world, but something tells me their sources might be a tad more truthful, in this instance, than those that Anna Kornblutt of the NY Times relied upon for her story. For example, over the last week, we've seen the following occur:
* A general defeat at the polls in the off year elections for Republican candidates, with particularly significant Democratic victories in Virginia, New Jersey and California (where the referendums supported heavily by Governor "Terminator" went down to an ignominious defeat).
* The Senate passed an amendment to ban torture sponsored by John McCain by a 90-9 vote, despite a personal plea to Republican members from Cheney not to, and despite Bush's threat that he would veto any legislation containing such an amendment.
* Disclosure of Secret Prisons run by the CIA.
* Demands by Senator Frist and Speaker of the House Hastert for an investigation by the DOJ into the leak of the existence of said prisons.
* A statement by Senator Pat Roberts that Frist should cool his jets on any so-called investigation
* The collapse of the GOP's $51 billion budget cutting package due to a revolt by moderate Republicans to the embarrassment of both the House leadership and the White House.
* New public opinion polls that continue to show a drop in President Bush's approbval ratings, and a growing lack of trust regarding the veracity and competency his administration, among other things:
Newsweek Poll: President's Approval Rating Falls to Record Low; Sixty-Eight Percent of Americans Dissatisfied With Direction of Country
NEW YORK, Nov. 12 /PRNewswire
. . . Sixty-eight percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States at this time, a seven-point drop in satisfaction since the last Newsweek Poll. Only 26 percent are satisfied.
. . . When asked if they think Bush can be an effective president during his last three years in office, a 56 percent-majority say the President 'won't be able to get much done.' The president and his administration are also suffering an emerging credibility gap: 42 percent of those polled think the phrase 'is honest and ethical' describes Bush, 50 percent disagree. When asked if the same phrase describes Dick Cheney, 55 percent said no, it does not, and 29 percent said it did.
. . . Fifty-two percent of Americans believe that Cheney was part of a cover up to try to prevent the special prosecutor from getting the truth about who leaked CIA agent Valerie Plame's name to the news media . . .
. . . When asked if the vice president deliberately misused or manipulated pre-war intelligence about Iraq's nuclear capabilities in order to build support for war with Iraq -- 52 percent say he misused intelligence, 33 percent say he did not. Overall, 65 percent of Americans disapprove of Bush's handling of the situation in Iraq, only 32 percent approve according to the latest Newsweek Poll.
* The President, under fire for the misuse of intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq War, even felt the need to lash out at his critics in a belligerent speech on Veteran's Day that some are calling the worst of his entire presidency:
For speechwriters drafting a presidential address for a patriotic holiday such as Independence Day, Memorial Day, or Veterans Day, there are three rules: Don't be wordy; don't be wonky; and, most important, don't be partisan. In his Veterans Day remarks today at the Tobyhanna Army Depot near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, President Bush and his staff broke all three rules, producing a strident speech that went on for almost 50 minutes, included a lengthy comparison of "Islamic radicalism" and "the ideology of communism," and concluded by attacking "some Democrats," while taking an implicit shot at "my opponent during the last election." It may have been the worst speech of his presidency.
At a time when Bush would benefit from sounding cheerful, forward looking, and above partisan politics, just as Ronald Reagan did during his second term even in the midst of the Iran-Contra scandal, Bush instead sounded like Richard Nixon or Lyndon Johnson during the worst days of the Vietnam War, although neither is remembered for flubbing a speech on a national holiday. It's as if Bush was reading from a cue-card that proclaimed, "Message: I'm embattled and embittered."
Now from where I sit, all those events, taken separately, might not mean much. Politics is a rough and tumble business after all, and you aren't going to win every battle, whether fighting in the legislative arena, the media arena or the arena of public opinion. Taken collectively, however, and considering their close proximity in time, they all point to a Presidency under siege at the moment.
Therefore, I'm inclined to give Mr. Thompson's story in Capitol Hill Blue, about a nasty, back-biting atmosphere at the White House this week, a little more credence today. Aren't you?
Furthermore, I am more than a little inclined to accept that a memo was prepared by sorrowful GOP operatives expressing the hope that a terror attack on US soil might happen before the 2006 midterm elections in order to boost Bush's and the GOP's popularity with the electorate. It's ghoulish, sure. It's an incredibly stupid thing to commit to paper (even if it is your deepest, darkest desire). But I can see them doing it.
It's been a tough week to be a Republican, after all. Who wouldn't (speaking to Republicans here only, of course) pine for those halcyon days after 9/11 when anything they proposed (tax cuts, increased defense spending, handouts to political campaign contributors) was passed into law, and Democrats, cowed by the risk of being called unpatriotic, or worse, treasonous, did absolutely nothing to stop them?
Yes, I can see them longing for their golden age. For our sakes, though, let's hope that's all it ever turns out to be.