Friday, October 13, 2006

FT Laughs with America at Bush

Working in the belly of the beast -- but with considerable detachment -- two Financial Times writers call the fall elections for the Dems. The analysis by the FT Washington bureau's Edward Luce and Holly Yeager predicts victory and a hostile Congress for Bush's last two years.

The analysis looks to the seemingly countless bungles -- from sex scandals to making us less safe with the Iraq war while costing thousands of American lives. As it puts it:
More significantly, the Democrats have benefited from Mr Bush'’s growing difficulties in Iraq, in spite of a failure by the opposition party to produce a coherent alternative either to the president'’s "stay the course"” or to calls for an almost instant withdrawal of US forces.
The layered irony is that the Dem candidates don't have fixes they are promising if elected. Even if both houses shift dominant party, getting out of the GOP hole will take a lot of time. Former President Bill Clinton told the FT that this works for Dem candidates. "Our candidates can say what they want about Iraq, because the American people, more or less, believe that it hasn't added to our security, that our policy is not working, and because they recognise that no one knows exactly what to do."

Then of course and most obviously is the plethora of criminal and ethical scandals born of the arrogance of those in power too long. As the lead graph puts it, "Republican party leaders in the US have lately been making it on to the television talk-show circuit not as guests but as jokes."

We needn't detail those (although FT does). However, take note that just since the Mark Foley antics became public, the Dem lead in the pending elections has climbed to between 11% and 23%, depending on the poll.

Even in the middle of the country, the Dems are ahead. The GOP leaders also see that previously "safe" seats are up for grabs. To all watching, the GOP should lose its 15 seat Congressional majority.

Perhaps most important is that polls consistently report that nearly two-thirds of us say our "country is headed in the wrong direction." We add that we need not stop to consider what the devil took Americans so long to weigh the corruption, the billion-dollar-a-day failed and unnecessary war, and on and on. The key is that as a nation, most of us now grok it.

The FT also notes that 2008 will be the first year since Eisenhower in 1952 that the Republicans have not generated their presidential candidate out of the White House. Lackaday, no heir for Georgie.

If the Dems do edge into power, their majority will be small. We note that they have similar hidden issues on this as we do in Massachusetts. A Dem is not necessarily a Dem at all times. Very personal concerns, including of course 1) how to play to the locals for re-election and 2) the self-interest of the wealthy, produce some DINOs and others who vote with the Dark Side on key issues. The wispy, wavering Dems in scant majority and all too often all to similar to Republicans do not hold the promise of revolution or great leadership.

Nonetheless, the FT predicts that a Dem Congress would "block any further Bush initiatives, to deprive Republicans of legislative accomplishments in the build-up to the 2008 contest."

They add that the rising party is not devoid of plans, even if they can't solve the war/terrorism thingummy immediately. If Nancy Pelosi becomes Speaker of the House, she had a broad progressive agenda including everything from stem-cell research to jacking the minimum wage. On the Senate side, this could be healthcare and education reform.

The conclusion falls from the mouth of Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Sarah Binder. "My hunch is that we'll be facing two more year of stalemate."

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