Wednesday, November 9, 2005

An elephant in distress

It may be too soon to officially put the Republican Party on a respirator, and reports of their demise may be premature, but the outcome of some of Tuesday’s state and local elections have clearly sent a signal that the GOP is in trouble. It is trouble that party loyalists insist has nothing to do with the standard-bearer of the Republicans, President George Bush, but the shifting mood of the electorate suggests otherwise.

Ron Fournier, veteran political writer for The Associated Press, said “President Bush’s political ills seem contagious,” but that's a masterful understatement. Right now, politically speaking, George Bush has the walkin’ pneumonia and the boogie-woogie avian flu, and the results of some of those contests point to the Republicans’ ironic inability to inoculate themselves from the one man who should have been their doctor.

It began Tuesday night with a very big win for the Democrats in Virginia, that longtime Republican stronghold, once a seat of the Confederacy, a state that hadn’t gone for a Democrat for president since 1964 – and one in which Republicans have control of the Legislature and the state’s seats in Congress. Despite a personal appearance on the stump by President Bush, GOP gubernatorial candidate Jerry Kilgore was beaten by Democratic lieutenant governor Tim Kaine, who trumped Kilgore by 6 percentage points.

The postmortem indicated that citizen Kaine took a page from the Republican playbook, outflanking Kilgore on the GOP’s once-unassailable selling point: Values. Kaine placed his first campaign ad on a Christian radio station, Fournier reported.

Kaine’s first television ad played up his past experience with Catholic missionaries. And maybe most damaging was Kaine’s association with the popular Democratic governor, Mark R. Warner, who last year was mentioned, albeit briefly, as a possible running mate for Sen. John Kerry.

Then came news of the governor’s race in New Jersey. Sen. Jon Corzine, the popular Democrat who vaulted to his senate post after a career on Wall Street, trounced Republican challenger Doug Forrester in a vituperative contest that saw a lot of name-calling before it was all over.

Elsewhere, the drumbeat against Republicans continued. In California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the actor turned Republican governor, saw pet-project ballot initiatives rebuffed by voters increasingly fed up with the once- and probably-future movie Terminator.

It may be hard to find the links between these sound Republican defeats and President Bush – other than the power of the theory that standing next to a man perceived as a loser makes you a loser by association. Bush’s job approval ratings continue to spiral downward in the wake of Katrina fallout, and the still-developing problems stemming from the indictment of White House aide and novelist “Scooter” Libby in the CIA leak investigation.

The president’s loyal minions are working hard to shore up the distance between Bush and the GOP losers on Tuesday. White House press secretary Scott McClellan, for example, dismissed the idea that Bush’s problems aided in Kilgore’s defeat in Virginia.

“Any thorough analysis of the gubernatorial elections is going to show that the elections were decided on local and state issues, and the candidates and their agendas,” McClellan said, presumably with a straight face, at the White House on Wednesday.

But whether he realizes it or not, McClellan’s comment deftly, if accidentally, undercut the ability of This President to employ the intangible powers of his office – the bully pulpit of the presidency – to do anyone in his party any good at all. It’s a tacit admission of the toothlessness of George Bush in his second term, an indicator of a relative impotence that’s likely to continue.

Whether the Democrats can capitalize on this next year is anyone’s guess. Tuesday’s elections in a handful of states point to the strong possibility of the Dems finally getting some messengers, still leaving open the question of whether they’ll finally get a message.

But the Republicans in power are looking down the tunnel and, to paraphrase the poet Robert Lowell, the light they see at the other end may well be an oncoming train. After five long years, it seems, reports of Republican invulnerability have been greatly exaggerated.
Image credit: Kaine: Steve Helber, Associated Press


  1. Amgen Files Lawsuit Against Roche for Patent Infringement
    Business Blogs - RSS Feeds - Business Case Studies Amgen announced that it filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court in Boston, Massachusetts against F. Hoffmann-LaRoche Ltd., Roche Diagnostics GmbH, ...
    Hello, you have made yourself a great blog! I'm immediately going to bookmark you!
    I have good news at Marketing for you to see. It is showing you a whole lot! You are invited to check it out if you get time :-)

  2. Enjoyed your interesting blog. You may want to check out my simplified elliott wave web page simplified elliott wave Keep up the good work.

  3. Questions to answer
    I received an email from an Elementary Education major at Mississippi Valley State University.
    Find out how to buy and sell anything, like things related to instant road repair on interest free credit and pay back whenever you want! Exchange FREE ads on any topic, like instant road repair!

  4. Dear culture, just to let you know you have some real readers as well

  5. I have been following a site now for almost 2 years and I have found it to be both reliable and profitable. They post daily and their stock trades have been beating
    the indexes easily.

    Take a look at



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...