Republicans nowadays must feel like a Christian Scientist with appendicitis. With just a little over three weeks to go before the pivotal November mid-term elections, that ache in their gut is only going to get worse.
More and more Republican candidates distance themselves from the fallen leader of their party and his many failed policies, ranging from the Iraq war to assaults on personal freedoms and liberties.
For many, the decision to avoid their faltering President comes too late. By clinging to a flawed political strategy for too long they will go down in flames.
Republicans last week wrote off incumbent GOP Sen. Mike DeWine in Ohio and made a fateful decision to move resources elsewhere. They also know Montana Sen. Conrad Burns, the mouth that bored, is history: Same for right-wing blowhard Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island.
On the House side, GOP strategists concede privately that side is lost and barring a major political event that favors Republicans, Democrats will take control after the November elections.
GOP operatives over the weekend told me the mood in the party of the elephant is as bad as they’ve ever seen. Those old enough to remember the days of Richard Nixon and Watergate say it is even lower than the period following Nixon’s resignation.
“We’re going down and we’re going down hard,” a GOP campaign manager said Sunday, “and, frankly, some in our own ranks say we deserve everything that will happen to us.”
Yes, they do. The Republicans have been monumental failures since they took control of Congress after the 1994 mid-term elections. They fumbled away every opportunity and proved themselves even more corrupt than the Democratic leadership they replaced.
The Democrats deserved to lose in 1994. They had become complacent in power and dizzy from the lust of greed. The fall of power brokers like Speaker of the House Jim Wright and Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski exemplified a party that put politics above the law.
But Republicans, who promised massive reform and elimination of “business and usual” from the Congressional system, too quickly fell under the intoxication and power. House leader Newt Gingrich soon left under an ethical cloud and the growing Jack Abramoff scandal means a still-undetermined number of Republicans will spend at least part of their retirement years in jail.
Pork barrel expanded to record proportions under GOP leadership. So did the power of special interest groups and the abuse of power.
And, of course, the Mark Foley Congressional page scandal, just the latest example of both the arrogance and incompetence of the party that controls Congress.
Finally, we have Bush – George W. Bush – the despot-in-chief, the man who led this nation to a war based on lies and used a trumped-up “war on terrorism” to gut the Constitution and rip away freedoms that used to form the fabric of American culture. For too long, power-drunk GOP congress rubber-stamped the often-insane actions of a power-mad President.
In Washington, karma has a way of coming around and it’s about to deliver a haymaker to the Republican Party.
With luck it will be a knockout punch and one that is both long overdue and well-deserved.
What remains to be seen is whether or not the Democrats learned their lesson in 1994 and don’t blow their opportunity in 2006.
I’d love to say I’m optimistic. I’m not. I’ve been around too long and watched too many campaign promises disappear in the wind as soon as the ballots are counted. In three weeks, I’m voting to kick the bitches and bastards out. At the same time, I’m praying those waiting in the wings aren’t just more of the same.