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Wednesday, May 11, 2005 

Trouble in Wingnut Paradise

As finals wind down, I've been thinking about the showdown taking place in the Senate. I feel pretty strongly that, should the Republicans choose to invoke nuclear option, it will have serious consequences for them in many ways (public opinion, votes, future retribution, and the shutdown of the Senate). This is a battle the Democrats can win, because the public, though few care about the institution of the filibuster itself, by and large understands that the rules shouldn't be changed on a whim, at least not for ten radical judges. The problem for the Republicans is that no one really cares much whether ten judges get confirmed or not, while people care a lot more (though still troublingly little) about the rights of the minority in this country. Add this to the fact that the GOP has already enormously overreached in more than one instance, people are just not on their side with this. The Republican line about allowing "up-or-down votes" just isn't that appealing.

I'm convinced that both congressional Republicans and President Bush have quite a bit of trouble on their hands at this point. Practically since inauguration day, both the Republican Congress and Bush have been embarrassing themselves almost constantly. Think about it. Iraq becomes a bigger problem every day, and despite a cabinet taking office (which lasts for a news cycle or two) and other semi-hopeful developments, more and more soldiers and civilians die every day (dominating news cycle after news cycle). Social Security has once again proven to be the third rail of American politics. Many of Bush's nominations have proven troublesome, with Bolton, Kerik, and the ten judges all garnering quite a bit of negative attention and making Bush himself look weak for not being able to push their confirmations through. The Schiavo debacle. Tom DeLay's ethics troubles. A still-flagging economy. North Korea's nuclear (not nookulur) ambitions. The list goes on. With such large Republican majorities and a Republican White House, it's almost unbelievable that they have been able to accomplish so little. In fact, one of the major (though not broadly known) victories for them this term has been the passage of the Bankruptcy Bill, a bill which has exactly zero constituent support and a lot of opposition. All this is leading to two outcomes. The first is a lack of trust in Congress. Poll numbers show very little support for both Congress and Bush, and if things continue on this path those numbers could well continue to decrease substantially. The second outcome is an appearance of profound weakness. Despite substantial majorities for Republicans in both houses of Congress and a Republican administration, they really haven't been able to get much done, and are much less unified than usual. Unless they get their acts together (and there is no reason to think this will happen anytime soon), they could be facing a very troubling election in 2006. We can only hope.

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