Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Look What You Made Me Do

Aw, c’mon, you knew this was coming.

As funny as this may sound, President Bush misses John Kerry. In the 2004 campaign, Bush sought to make the election a referendum on the Democratic senator’s character and leadership skills rather than his own record as president. Now that he has nobody to run against, every day is a referendum on Bush. And it’s taking a toll.

Bush’s approval ratings are among the lowest of his presidency. Voters are growing increasingly uneasy over the war in Iraq and the economy. His signature domestic issue, Social Security reform, was received coolly by Congress and the public. Some Republicans are raising the prospect that Bush could cost them control of Congress.

What happened in seven months? One explanation is that he lost his punching bag – a political rival who, once pummeled, helped make Bush look good by comparison.


Now, with nobody else to blame, Bush stands alone. He can’t deflect voter concerns about the economy and other pressing domestic matters. With the death toll in Iraq pushed above 1,700, more than double the number of a year ago, it’s no longer a choice between Bush and Kerry.

It’s Bush’s war. Period.


Bush seems to be warming to the idea of finding a new punching bag.

Addressing GOP donors on Tuesday night, the president said of Democratic lawmakers: “On issue after issue, they stand for nothing except obstruction, and this is not leadership. It is the philosophy of the stop sign, the agenda of the roadblock, and our country and our children deserve better.”

Not that I’m in the habit of giving campaign advice to Republicans — and like they’d listen, anyway — I don’t think it’s a good idea to play the victim. “Oh, look, even though we’re the majority party in both the House and the Senate and I’m getting regular blowjobs from the corporate media, I can’t get anything done because the Democrats won’t let me have my way and that big meanie Howard Dean are makin’ fun of me!”

It looks to me like Bush has bet his much-vaunted political capital on lost causes like “reforming” Social Security, sucking up to the Religious Reich, and trying to convince the world that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel in Iraq. All three of these efforts have cratered, so the only thing he has left is blame someone else for their own problems.

There’s a twelve-step program for that.