September 30, 2007
Sixteen months from now, when they sit upon the ground to tell sad stories of the death of kings, scores of Republican chieftains will no doubt take a deep sigh of relief at seeing the back of George W. Bush as he sallies off to a Crawford-bound retirement. Although dedicated partisans will forever remain grateful for his depriving Al Gore the presidency, GOP wise men will be left to ponder: What, ultimately, is the legacy Bush 43 leaves behind?
The answer, from a political and philosophical standpoint, should disturb them greatly.
Politically, Republicans are rudderless. Morale among activists is the lowest it’s been since Watergate’s nadir. Many conservatives have resigned themselves to the inevitability of Madam President. And barring sundry self-deluded pontificators on talk radio, no serious political prognosticator can envisage a scenario wherein Republicans will be able to recapture either chamber of Congress in 2008—especially the Senate, where prospects look frightfully bleak.
Democrats, with two Independents caucusing with them, hold a 51 to 49 advantage over the Republicans. With a third of the Senate facing the voters in 2008, nary a Democrat appears to be vulnerable for reelection. Meanwhile, conniption fits abound at the Republican Senate Committee over the possibility of losing the following five seats:
In Colorado, Wayne Allard—a competent, conservative public servant in the mold of his predecessor William Armstrong—is retiring after two terms in office. He never garnered more than 51% of the vote, and Colorado has been trending blue the past few election cycles.
Norm Coleman of Minnesota bested Walter Mondale in 2002 with an exiguous 49.53% of the vote. Ever since he’s been a favorite target of left-wing activists like Al Franken, who is seeking to oust him.
Nebraska’s Chuck Hagel, the Upper Chamber’s lone Republican opponent of the Iraq War, has apparently tired of playing the role of pariah and joins Allard in voluntarily packing it in. Though Nebraska is as red a state as any, former Democratic Governor and Senator Bob Kerry looks poised to usurp this seat.
Past Democratic Governor Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire recently threw her hat in the senatorial ring, and may very well deny John Sununu a second term. Her marked advantage is that, as of late, the Granite State has begun aping the rest of New England’s voting habits
And though Republican John Warner never gave much joy to conservatives in Virginia, his impending retirement will do little to prosper their fortunes. Democrat Mark Warner (no relation), widely popular in the Commonwealth, offers his party its first real chance of claiming both Senate seats since 1965.
This political train-wreck Republicans face can largely be traced to Bush’s philosophical metamorphosis from a traditional, non-interventionist conservative to the neoconservatives’ exemplar of a “War President”, and his positioning of the Republicans as the “War Party”. Anyone doubting the veracity of this assessment should review 20th Century history.
In 1920, two years after the close of The Great War, Republicans snatched the presidency from the Democratic Party of Woodrow Wilson and held Congressional majorities. The Party of Lincoln would duplicate this trifecta feat of power in 1924, 1928, and 1952, and then not again until January 20, 2001.
In 1945 and 1946, fatigued by the theatre in Europe and Asia, voters in Great Britain and the United States sacked their respective war parties: the Tories and Democrats. In England, Churchill had to hand over the premiership to Clement Attlee; in America, Republicans retook the House and Senate.
In 1968, LBJ, stymied by the debacle in Vietnam, was hounded from office by his own party. Richard Nixon finally realized his life’s ambition and became president by running as a peace candidate.
In 1992, George Bush (41), fresh from an Operation Desert Storm victory, managed to garner less than 38% of the vote against a small-state governor, one tainted by both personal and financial scandals, and an unhinged Texas businessman.
If a trend is to be observed it is thus: civilized societies are repelled by the trammels of war, even just wars. While our brave young have always proved their mettle, queuing up to wage battle against ravaging hordes—disquieting Germans, twice, Koreans, Vietcong, and insurgent Iraqis—ultimately, the country entrusts its governance to the “peace and prosperity” party.
By casting the Republicans as the War Party in an unnecessary police action in Iraq, Bush has placed the GOP on history’s losing side. For this they shall pay exceedingly, now and in the years to come.
Nicholas Sanchez is a conservative activist and the former Director of Development for the Free Congress Foundation in Washington, D.C. Mr. Sanchez now resides in Manchester, N.H. He can be reached at [email protected].
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