Friday, September 30, 2005

Woe is them! GOP full of legal & political trouble

The GOP is in the eye of the perfect political storm.

On one side of Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is embroiled in a stock scandal. On the other, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has had to temporarily relinquish his post after being indicted on a conspiracy charge.

Meanwhile, President Bush's approval numbers are in the toilet, with Americans questioning if he can keep them safe and chafing under $3-per-gallon gas prices.

His war in Iraq is an unpopular morass and his plans to revamp Social Security and beef up tax cuts have been blown off the map. Even rank-and-file Republicans are pitching fits over the explosion of new spending on Iraq, Katrina cleanup and Medicare.

It's not a good time to be a Republican.

"It's like that old '60s saying: They're down so low that everything looks like up," said Stephen Hess, a George Washington University political science professor.

"The Bush Era is over," proclaimed Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne.

The Democrats are eagerly shopping around a new slogan tut-tutting about the "Republican culture of corruption."

What with Frist and DeLay - not to mention the arrest last week of a top official at the White House Office of Management and Budget in a corruption probe and the ongoing investigation of Bush political guru Karl Rove in connection with the leaking of a CIA operative's name - they expect to get some mileage out of it.

Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg found that a year after Bush won reelection with 51% of the vote, fewer than four in 10 Americans want to continue his policies. A Newsweek poll found only 38% of Americans would vote for a Republican in a congressional race held today.

But there are two silver linings for the GOP in the black clouds roiling over Washington. For one, the Democrats - lacking a single strong leader or any effective message beyond criticism - have been ineffective in capitalizing on GOP woes. For another, the 2006 midterm elections are still a year away.

"All this happened early enough that they still have the potential to dig themselves out," Hess said. "You will see eventually some wave of up-news for the Republicans."

Can't think of anyone who deserves it more!

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