Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Column 33: National - 150 Days of Bush 2

150 Days of Bush 2: A Progress(ive) report
There can be little doubt in anyone’s mind that in his second administration President Bush has made common cause with the far right wing of the Republican Party as represented by the likes of Tom DeLay and with what have been called of Christianity as represented by James Dobson. It is, of course, the right of any President to align himself with whatever political strains he finds compatible, but after five months of this administration, the gap between the President’s views and those of all but the fringe of America is becoming more evident and wider.
By overreaching in a number of areas including the Terri Schiavo case and the “nuclear option” threat, the Republicans have given mainstream America a fresh appreciation of the dangers of unrestrained government arrogance, and a respect for the checks and balances needed to restrain that arrogance.

That same kind of arrogance is at work in the GOP's move to protect Tom DeLay by rewriting House ethics rules and is behind the Republican attack on federal judges – when they attacked judges for upholding the Constitution in the Schiavo case it became clear to the country that the issue was not judicial activism but that the judiciary is the only government branch beyond their control. With that, what had been for many a vague and growing unease began to coalesce into a deep distrust.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll recently indicated that only 26 percent of Americans polled said federal judges are too liberal; 18 percent said they're too conservative; and 52 percent think they're about right. In the same poll, an astounding 66 percent opposed the Republican effort to make it easier to ram even the most extreme judges through the Senate confirmation process. Like the change of ethics rules in the House, that proposed change is seen as an effort to remove all impediments to raw power.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen almost 800 points from its high in early March, and Alan Greenspan and his predecessor, Paul Volcker, are warning about dire consequences if the federal deficit is not addressed in a serious manner. Bush, however, has made it clear that he has no intention of changing course.

As a result, a Gallup poll last month found that only 31 percent of Americans rated the economy as good or excellent; 68 percent called it fair or poor. Just two months earlier, 50 percent of Americans told Gallup they believed the economy was getting worse; by the end of April it was 61 percent.

I don’t have room here to go into Iraq or energy policy or Social Security, where the numbers are much the same. Failed policy, and poll numbers that reflect it.
Other telling evidence of the growing gap is the right wing’s increasingly desperate efforts to attack indiscriminately those who disagree with them in any way. This has extended from the “Justice Sunday” effort to gain support for the nuclear option all the way down to increasingly strident attacks in letters to this newspaper. What is most interesting is how bereft of content these attacks are – at every level, the right attempts to defend itself by defaming anyone and everyone who disagrees, by name-calling, and by insinuating that disagreement is somehow evidence of being anti-American, anti-God, and anti-morality. In fact, though, those poll results can't be explained by Democratic attacks or a liberal media. It's just the cold, hard recognition of failure setting in and of an American public that, if it is anti-anything it is anti-autocracy.

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