George Bush continues to swirl around the drain; the only question now is: will he suck the Republican Party down with him?
Michael Gerson, the speechwriter responsible for many of the president's rare moments of eloquence ("the soft bigotry of low expectations," "Grief and tragedy and hatred are only for a time. Goodness, remembrance, and love have no end.") certainly sounded gloomy about the current state of the GOP during his spot on Sunday's This Week with George Stephanopoulos: "The party is in a funk. There is a lack of creativity, very little domestic policy energy. I think it's going to be a problem."
Of course, Gerson is one of the party's brightest thinkers and a Bush loyalist, so his calling it "a problem" must be translated as "a disaster." In the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll [pdf], a whopping 74 percent of Americans think the country is on the wrong track. Only 24 percent think we're heading in the right direction.
Which makes the behavior of the leading GOP presidential candidates all the more befuddling. To a man, every one of the top tier candidates -- Giuliani, Romney, McCain, Thompson, and Huckabee -- seems intent on competing to see who can out-Bush Bush. Not a single one of them has tried to put any distance between himself and the president -- especially on foreign policy, the area of Bush's most catastrophic policies. As George Will put it, "They are, if anything, to the right of [Bush] on foreign policy. There's a bidding war to see who can be more hawkish toward Iran."
I've written about how the lunatic fringe of the GOP has taken over the party. Well, the takeover is so complete that those looking to lead the party have come to the conclusion that the only way they can win is to compete for the 24 percent of the country that does not think we are headed over the edge of a cliff. They are all vying to be voted head wacko of the lunatic fringe. Running on a platform of heightened Bushism, they seem to think the reason three-quarters of the country has turned against the president is because he just wasn't extreme enough. So the problems of the GOP will only intensify when Bush packs his bags.
The reign of Bush and Cheney has not only alienated the public. It has also alienated conservative intellectuals like Gerson and Will -- and Bill Buckley, the godfather of conservative intellectuals.
Back in April, writing about Iraq, Buckley called public opinion on the war "savagely decisive" and concluded, "There are grounds for wondering whether the Republican Party will survive this dilemma."
If the Republican Party in its current shape ends up fading away to obscurity and irrelevancy, for its epitaph, we can use the words of Don Rumsfeld (trying to sugar coat a different debacle): "The dead-enders are still with us, those remnants of the defeated regimes who'll go on fighting long after their cause is lost."
Now, can some please explain to me why the Democrats keep caving in to this bunch of dead-enders?
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