For a man who values loyalty above all else, George Bush is finding precious little of it these days. Republican politicians are practically stampeding away from him; even some of his most ardent water carriers, those twerpish quislings at The National Review are beginning to question what exactly is going on at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue these days. In the print edition, Rich Lowry, fascist-at-large and editor, notes that, "The upshot is that even Republican primary voters will be looking in 2008 for someone who doesn't run the government like George W. Bush . . . Once inside the charmed Bush circle, people tend to stay there and rise to the level of their incompetence." He makes a similar observation in his 3/16 article in the NRO.
The true believers remain very careful to focus on what cannot be plausibly denied, the fact that the people George Bush has chosen to associate most closely with are simply unqualified and incompetent to carry out their assigned duties (Andrew Sullivan, in an earlier piece, makes a convincing case that the most incompetent of them all is probably Karl Rove). They fastidiously avoid mentioning the other side of the coin, which is the blatant politicization of everything this group touches, from US attorneys to national security. It's as if the Lowrys were saying, if Gonzales and Miers weren't so incompetent, this partisan takeover of the justice department and FBI could have continued unabated! Hardly a position of high-minded concern for the welfare of the republic, now, is it?
But what this means is the Democrats really have to tread smartly in response to the president's laughingly partisan news conference yesterday, where he spent most of his time telling people how "reasonable" he was prepared to be in withholding the sworn testimony of Stepford Wife Miers and Rove. The president, with his approval ratings hovering at or below 30%, obviously felt he had nothing left to lose by adopting this stance-and he's right. It's clear that at least some of the disaffection with the president comes from the far right members of his own party, cretins like Tom DeLay, who criticized the administration on more than one talk show in recent days for "showing their hand" in the firing of the truly incompetent Rumsfeld (the politics of the which seem to bother DeLay more than the fact that Rumsfeld was directly responsible for the deaths of over 3200 American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis). The hostile approach adopted by the president is going to certainly buoy the spirits of the disaffected and despondent far right base, and if allowed any traction at all will begin to circle the wagons around their golden boy again. This can't be good for congressional Democrats. While it's clear the travesty and miscarriage of justice needs to be investigated and those responsible need to be held to account, Schumer & Company need to be as smart as they are determined, as they showed they can be in the 2006 elections; otherwise, they'll have no one else but themselves to blame when they see the president start to rise in the polls again.