A GOP PRE-MORTEM: So is it over for the GOP majorities in Congress? It's still too early to say, I guess, but when even John Hinderaker is sounding extremely gloomy that's certainly the way to bet.
So I want to stress, for the edification of any Republican leaders who might pay attention, that this is the result of a series of unforced errors on their part. Following is a (partial) list:
1. The Terri Schiavo affair: The bitterness it aroused, which was substantial, opened a fracture in the GOP coalition: Social-conservatives against the rest. And as I noted at the time, the social conservatives were pretty nasty to the rest. No, it wasn't really a case of "theocracy" at work, as people like Ralph Nader agreed with the social conservatives. But the haste to enact federal legislation over a matter of state law, and the mean-spiritedness with which those who disagreed were treated, did the Bush coalition no good. What's more, as I noted at the time (see first link above), this wasn't enough to make the social conservatives happy anyway. Politically, I think this marked the beginning of the end.
2. The Harriet Miers debacle: Plenty of warning in the blogs that this was a big mistake, but all ignored by the White House and Congressional leadership. Social conservatives were mad here, and so was anyone who cared about the credentials of nominees. The nomination was withdrawn, but the damage was done.
3. The Dubai Ports disaster: Here I think that the Administration was on defensible ground from a policy perspective, but its ham-handed approach -- once again ignoring early warnings from the blogs -- turned it into a mess, and cost it major credibility with its national security constituency. The Administraiton was bumbling and inept in addressing this matter, which gained currency because of its flaccid stance on the cartoon Jihad. The consequence: Lost faith from its strongest constituency.
4. Immigration: Another unforced error. The national security constituency once again lost faith in the Administration. You can't talk about secure borders when the borders are porous. The Administration also failed to make a strong clear argument for immigration, outsourcing that to the Wall Street Journal, which did its best but couldn't do the President's job. Again, the White House's position on immigration was defensible in the abstract, but favoring easy immigration is one thing, favoring easy illegal immigration is another.
Cool. But then he goes and spoils it all by saying something stupid like:
The counter-case is that a Democratic House would be a disaster for the country. I gathered from Boortz's discussion that that's the case that Hannity and Limbaugh were making yesterday. It's a strong argument -- except that if Republican control of the Congress is so all-fired important to the future of civilization, then why haven't the Republicans who control Congress been acting as if it is so important? . . .Cause, you know, Hannity and Limbaugh make such important arguments.