From the Washington Post:
Disaffection over spending and immigration have caused conservatives to take flight from President Bush and the Republican Congress at a rapid pace in recent weeks, sending Bush’s approval ratings to record lows and presenting a new threat to the GOP’s 12-year reign on Capitol Hill, according to White House officials, lawmakers and new polling data.
Bush and Congress have suffered a decline in support from almost every part of the conservative coalition over the past year, a trend that has accelerated with alarming implications for Bush’s governing strategy.
The Gallup polling organization recorded a 13-percentage-point drop in Republican support for Bush in the past couple of weeks. These usually reliable voters are telling pollsters and lawmakers they are fed up with what they see as out-of-control spending by Washington and, more generally, an abandonment of core conservative principles.
There are also significant pockets of conservatives turning on Bush and Congress over their failure to tighten immigration laws, restrict same-sex marriage, and put an end to the Iraq war and the rash of political scandals, according to lawmakers and pollsters.
So Bush turned out to be too liberal for these folks, which makes you wonder how brown Bush’s shirt has to be before they’re happy.
The only recourse the White House has is a mid-term election campaign that will, according to Howard Fineman in Newsweek, make the 2000 and 2004 battles “look like episodes of ‘Barney.'”
The conventional notion here is that Democrats want to “nationalize” the 2006 elections—dwelling on broad themes (that is, the failures of the Bush administration)—while the Republicans will try to “localize” them as individual contests that have nothing to do with, ahem, the goings-on in the capital.
That was before the GOP situation got so desperate. The way I read the recent moves of Karl Rove & Co., they are preparing to wage war the only way open to them: not by touting George Bush, Lord knows, but by waging a national campaign to paint a nightmarish picture of what a Democratic Congress would look like, and to portray that possibility, in turn, as prelude to the even more nightmarish scenario: the return of a Democrat (Hillary) to the White House.
Rather than defend Bush, Rove will seek to rally the Republicans’ conservative grass roots by painting Democrats as the party of tax increases, gay marriage, secularism and military weakness. That’s where the national message money is going to be spent.
In other words, if you have nothing you can run on yourself, you run over the other guy. Scare the crap out of the electorate with wild tales of Democrats running the House and Senate, recklessly bringing the budget into balance, wontonly demanding oversight of the government as if Congress acutally had a role in something like that, foolishly restricting the government’s role in monitoring every uterus, radically allowing people who are in love to actually be left to make their own lives together, and care in a liberally irresponsible manner for the health, rights and privileges of every citizen. Can fire and brimstone be far behind?
Of course this will all be moot if Karl Rove is indicted by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald for lying to the grand jury, but even if Turdblossom should happen to dodge that particular bullet, I daresay the Left, if not the Democratic Party, will be ready for him. Six years of incompetence, arrogance, homophobia, jingoism, bribery, and — stealing from the Democrats — a sex scandal have provided us with enough ammunition to lay it all on every doorstep of every Republican running for office this fall. To use a phrase that was all the rage at one time, “Bring it on.”