WASHINGTON, Sep. 20
There are two fundamental political realities that we have hinted at for several days that are known to everyone in the know in the inner circle of American politics (a/k/a: the Gang of 500) and we feel you should know them too.
The first one involves the Republican Party and precisely stated, it goes like this: The potential for the political interests of the White House and congressional Republicans to diverge is greater now than it has been since George W. Bush took office.
The second one involves the Democratic Party and precisely stated, it goes like this: Every negative impression that the Democrats have had about George W. Bush's policies and competence is being reaffirmed in the minds of party elites these days and they are as certain as they have ever been that the country at-large will begin to see what they have long seen.
On the first point: the on-going intra-GOP budget discussions (more tk today) are certainly the loci of most of the dissension within the party right now. But, despite the Democrats and the media looking for overall signs of disarray, the reality is that the manifestations of talking-point-driven unity are still far greater within the President's party than any splits.
Still, there is a growing emperor's-new-clothes sensibility to the words of some conservatives -- still mostly quietly. More loudly, Exhibit A today is Brendan Miniter's opinionjournal.com essay, which takes the Republican Party to task for bringing back the welfare state. It leads with Leader DeLay's Waterloo quote about the lack of excess spending in the federal budget. It also predicts doom and gloom for 2006 and 2008 if something doesn't change and quick. Read it now. LINK
As for the Democrats, they are confusing President Bush's polling and political weak patch with some Notion that they have developed ideas and an image of leadership that will allow them to fully capitalize on what is going on.
And as they follow the news, the Democratic wing of the Gang of 500 has affected a sensibility that is one part Sidney Blumenthal, two parts John Podesta, and three parts Laurie David.
In other words, if you were reading the papers like Paul Begala this morning, this is how you would see the President's day:
* CHAOS AND CRUMBLING IN THE SCOTUS PROCESS, per the New York Times: "The White House is reshuffling its short list of potential Supreme Court nominees with a new emphasis on finding someone who will hold up under the pressure of what is expected to be fierce confirmation battle, several Republican allies close to the process said on Monday." LINK
* ADMISSION OF ERROR IN IRAQ INFECTING NORTH KOREAN POLICY, per the New York Times: "'The lesson of Iraq,' said one senior American official, who is deeply skeptical about the deal, 'is that we can never again confront a country about its weapons unless we show that we have tried every available alternative to disarm it.'" LINK
* WEAKNESS AT HOME CAUSING WEAKNESS ABROAD , per the New York Times: "Several officials, who would not allow their names to be used because they did not want to publicly discuss Mr. Bush's political challenges, noted (sic) that Mr. Bush is tied down in Iraq, consumed by Hurricane Katrina, and headed into another standoff over Iran's nuclear program. The agreement, they said, provides him with a way to forestall, at least for now, a confrontation with another member of what he once famously termed 'the axis of evil.'" LINK