Friday, February 03, 2006

 

Cult of Personality Crisis

"Ray", a DC Republican -- loyal to the party, yet cognizant of its various fault lines and possessing a strong insight to its recent history and structure -- shares some thoughts on the interesting developments of the last few several months, culminating in this week's Democrats' cloture disaster and yesterday's House GOP leadership change:

The Republican Party wasted 2005 waiting to see what its "Cult of Personalities" that are Dubya, Dick and DeLay would do next -- and thereby what it, itself, would do next:

Would Cheney run in '08? Would Jeb Bush run in '08? Would DeLay and his former cronies be indicted? And, basically, what would Dubya do? The Republican Party was held in limbo in 2005 because of the Cult of Personalities of Dubya, Dick and Delay.

Whereas the Dems still have not moved beyond the Cult of Personality that is Bill Clinton and even Ted Kennedy, the Republican Party in the Fourth Quarter of 2005 began healthy steps towards moving away from the "3D" Cult of Personalities. Much of this is of W's own doing (the Harriet Miers debacle) and much is not of his doing -- Libby, social conservatives fiasco at 2005 polls, Abramoff, wire-tapping controversy, etc.

[Despite what one might think], it has all been GREAT for the Republican Party. As
Jack Nicholson's Joker said in Batman, "This town needs an enema." Well, the Republican Party is going though a healthy colonic. No colonic feels good. It isn't supposed to. The fact that the Dems have yet to go through this process -- even after losing in 1994, 2000, 2002 and 2004 --is totally beyond me. WHY?????????? (Couldn't the Alito debacle have made the need for new Hill leadership any clearer?)

I am more confident today for the Republican Party than I have been in years BECAUSE of this process. I am confident everything will come outOK, because while the Republican Party has been going through this process, the Republican base has been donating out the wazoo during the 4th Quarter. After near record low 2nd and 3rd Quarter fundraising [post-Terri Schiavo], the 4th Quarter was off the charts... The Republican Party actually begins 2006 with more cash on hand than AT ANYTIME IN HISTORY -- not just Republican Party history. Six months ago, I would have thought anyone saying that was smoking crack or mainlining Dubya's Kool Aid.

Republicans are breaking through the fear of
freefalling without the Cult of Dubya's leadership and openly embracing just being FREE.

Where it is going next will be interesting to see.


Further examples of the GOP's capacity for self-cleaning/exorcism can be found in Newt Gingrich's departure after the 1998 elections and Trent Lott's being forced to give up his majority leader post after his praise of Strom Thurmond's Dixiecrat campaign. Either of those episodes could have presaged rocky days ahead for the GOP. Instead, the subsequent elections were Republican victories.

Conversely, as Ray puts it, Democrats seem stuck in their own Cult of Personality: All around the Internet, the Democrat speculation seems to revolve perpetually on the "Hillary Question" -- is she electable? is she too far Left? Is she too far to the right? Did she make a fatal error in supporting the war -- and continuing to do so? But, Hillary is, ultimately, only an extension of the Bill "C.O.P." that has haunted the party since 1992 -- with decidedly uneven results, especially in recent years.

If Ray's observations are correct (he's certainly dead-on in noting the GOP's shocking fundraising haul), then this year may not be the looming electoral wipeout Republicans fear and Democrats dream.

Of course, there is still a lot that can happen involving Patrick Fitzgerald, Iraq, and who knows what else. But as of this day, even facing major strategic liabilitthe Republican Party at least appears to have some sense of what it is about and how to "sell" its "brand" to the public.

The Alito hearings show only too clearly that the Democrats are still floundering.



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Thursday, February 02, 2006

 

A GOP Boner -- Then A Boehner

On Thursday afternoon, House Republicans needed TWO votes on the first ballot to elect their new majority leader. The number of voters exceeded the number of members of the GOP caucus -- except it didn't because they forgot to include the delegate from Puerto Rico! (The delegate doesn't vote in the full House, but can in GOP Conference matters).

Oops! What Kathryn Lopez
said!

Anyway, in a come-from-behind surge on the second ballot, Rep. John Boehner from the beleagured GOP state of Ohio
upsets Roy Blunt, 122-109.

Congratulations to Mr. Boehner (pronounced 'Bey-ner').

This is about as clear a repudiation of Tom DeLay as one could imagine. Yes, John Shadegg would have been the clearest "new face/anti-lobbying" choice. However, given the history between DeLay and Boehner, picking the latter to replace the former sends a pretty strong message.

Bad blood existed between Boehner and DeLay going back to the ill-fated coup attempt of Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997. DeLay then engineered
J.C. Watts' victory over incumbent Conference Chair Boehner, after Republicans lost seats in the '98 midterms (and Gingrich resigned, to be succeeded by another DeLay ally Dennis Hastert).

Boehner's comeback must be especially sweet considering that Blunt was also a long-time DeLay ally.

And, apparently, House Democrats might not be too thrilled by this outcome either.

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Word is Bond

Alas, Julian Bond is nuts.

Goodness, how dare Dubya skip the NAACP event each year?


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Three Starboard SOTU Post-Mortems

1) Bob Novak:

[Bush]appeared to be moving toward bigger government.

The consensus on the Right was that President Bush's fifth State of the Union Address was his worst. Republican members of Congress agreed privately that he was most effective at the beginning with his familiar message of why U.S. forces cannot abandon Iraq. The problem for these lawmakers was the rest of the 51-minute presentation, which was filled with unpleasant surprises.

With polls showing the president's approval rating persistently anemic (as low as 39 percent), the speech aimed at a kinder, gentler Bush. But beyond atmospherics, the policy initiatives staked out new directions in the sixth year of his presidency that raised questions. Is this the real George W. Bush? Is he really his true father's son and not Ronald Reagan's?


2) Peggy Noonan:

The president's State of the Union Address will be little noted and not long remembered. There was a sense that he was talking at, not to, the country. He asserted more than he persuaded, and he chose to redeclare his beliefs rather than argue for them in any depth. If you believe, as he does, that the No. 1 priority for the American government at this point in history is to lead an international movement for political democracy, and if you believe, as he truly seems to, that political democracy is in and of itself a certain bringer of world-wide peace, than this speech was for you. If not, not. It went through a reported 30 drafts, was touched by many hands, and seemed it. Not precisely a pudding without a theme, but a thin porridge.

(She follows with a rather spirited analysis of the seeming dissolution of the Democratic Party).


3)
George Will (after praising the expanded use of Health Savings Accounts):

The president's headline-grabbing assertion that America is "addicted" to oil is wonderfully useless. If it means only -- and what else can it mean? -- that in the near term we will urgently need a lot of oil, it is banal. The amusingly discordant word "addicted" couched censoriousness -- the president as national scold; our use of oil as somehow irresponsible -- in the vocabulary of addiction, which is the therapeutic language of Oprah Nation.

Not to worry. The president says that by 2025 America will "replace" -- a certain ambiguity there -- "more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East." Replace with what? Other oil? Never mind. Such recurring goals, located safely over the horizon, resemble Soviet agricultural quotas, except that no one will be shot when they are not met.

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

 

Oscar Goes Wild(e)

Thought the Oscars couldn't get any queerer (in the, um, classical sense of the word)? Well, you're wrong!!!

Check out the Oscar-analysis site --
The Felixes (AKA, "The anti-Oscars(TM)"!!

(Featuring possible contributions by someone you know only too well...)




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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

 

SOTU: WTF?

BUSH: "human-animal hybrid"????

No.

Just don't go there, Mr. President...

Geez...


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SOTU: domestic

Spending -- woah! Return of the line-item veto. Talk about a blast from the past!

Entitlements -- "Baby boomers start turning 60, including two of my dad's favorite people -- me and President Clinton."

Great line.

Followed by a call for another Commission! Aaargh!

Immigration -- "orderly & serene borders"; "guest-worker program that rejects amnesty." (Yeah, right.)

"America is addicted to oil." Geez, not the best person to say that. What's next? BIll Clinton running Sex Addicts Anonymous? And Dick Cheney heading up an energy task force?

SCOTUS: More cheers for Roberts & Alito. Nice recognition of "retirement of special American. We are thankful for the service of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor."



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SOTU: NSA

On wiretapping: "Appropriate members of Congress notified..." (though several of those members don't feel they were informed enough).

"If someone is talking to al Qaeda, I want to know, because we will not wait to be hit again!" (massive applause on GOP side).

That's a tough rhetorical line for Dems and civil libertarians -- including this one -- to counter.

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SOTU

Bush: "Elections are vital -- but they are only the beginning."

Statement to Hamas: It "must recognize Israel, must disarm..."

"Liberty is future of the Middle East, because liberty is the right and hope of all humanity."

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SOTU

Bush lists democracies in Middle East -- does NOT include Palestinian Authority.

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State Of The Union

Alito & Roberts get cheers as they enter chamber -- SCOTUS justices never get cheered. Indicative of GOP political "win."

Bush honors Coretta Scott King in opener. Very appropriate -- and very smart.


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King For A Day, Queen For A Time

The phrase "end of an era" is over-used. However, it is most appropriate in the case of the passing of Coretta Scott King today at the age of 78. For nearly four decades, she was one of the most famous widows in history, the woman who chose to publicly carry on the dream of one of America's greatest visionaries and orators.

Within days of her husband's assassination, Mrs. King walked in a march where he had planned to participate; she refused to cancel the event, despite her grief. Even in the face of Martin Luther King Jr.'s death by violence, she remained committed to his philosophy of producing social change through non-violence.

And she persevered, even in the face of the many books released that revealed King's infidelity. A lesser woman could have chosen to retreat from the public life or buckled under the burden of being forever "married" to an icon. None would have begrudged her a few years of privacy away from the spotlight and the perpetual political noise of the day.

But Coretta Scott King was not a lesser woman. To the best of her ability, she kept the "dream" going.


Much thanks to her lengthy service to this nation.


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Can't Anybody Play This Game?

Were I a Democrat voter, I'd be furious right now. If the party's handling of the Samuel Alito nomination is indicative of how it plans to convey its beliefs and "values" over the rest of the year, then it is facing a very long election season in the fall -- despite all the political gifts (Libby, Abramoff, DeLay, Iraq) the GOP has been offering up on a silver platter.

Not only couldn't Senate Democrats get enough votes for a filibuster -- they
lost 19 members of their own caucus in voting for cloture! 72-25!?!? You've got to be kidding! Why even go through the motions? And who do they allow to be the face of the filibuster -- Massachusetts' favorite sons, John F. Kerry and Edward F. Kennedy, the faces of elections lost and times past.

Adding self-imposed insult to injury, the Democrats' own machinations caused the confirmation vote on Alito to occur Tuesday morning around 11 a.m. That means that a politically-weakened president (39 percent approval rating in
the latest NBC/Wall St. Journal poll) will be able -- over the course of just a few hours -- to have his Supreme Court nominee confirmed, sworn in and joining the rest of the Supreme Court in the House chambers in time for the State of the Union!

Now there's a strategy!

If that's the gift that a politically-weakened president gets, what does that say about his opposition?


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Jack Out Of The Box

Well, Kevin Drum thinks 24 officially "jumped the shark" last night.

Sorry, I must disagree, but maybe it's because I've become addicted to the show. Taking advantage of a couple days off from work, I did a Sunday night/Monday morning new-season marathon session, going through five "hours" almost consecutively.

That was not without risk, of course. Alas, I found out a few days after the four-hour, two-night premiere two weekends back that former President David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) had been assassinated.

Still, the overall relentless pace of those four hours plus last week's episode was still better than a heroin rush (of which, in truth, I have no reference, but the poetic license is allowed given the subject matter).

Anyway, the mini-marathon had me set up perfectly for last night's episode. What is rather interesting about this episode is that what one expects to be lengthy drawn-out plot threads are resolved rather quickly.

SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!


















After watching the previous episodes, I was surprised (even given last week's "preview") that the White House chief-of-staff would be corralled so quickly. The multiple double-crossings actually were well-handled -- and about what one would expect in "real" life.

As for the plot's depiction of the president's main adviser being "fooled" by the terrorists and surprised that the intelligence from his "man-on-the-inside" was wrong -- well, that has got to be the most preposterous idea I have ever heard!

Where do they get this stuff?


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