Angry conservatives are driving the approval ratings of President Bush and the GOP-led Congress to dismal new lows, according to an AP-Ipsos poll that underscores why Republicans fear an Election Day massacre.
Six months out, the intensity of opposition to Bush and Congress has risen sharply, along with the percentage of Americans who believe the nation is on the wrong track.
The AP-Ipsos poll also suggests that Democratic voters are far more motivated than Republicans. Elections in the middle of a presidentâ€™s term traditionally favor the party whose core supporters are the most energized.
MSM is, once again, about three months behind the curve. The prospects of the GOP Painting the Map Red have increased dramatically in just the past month.
After the Alito hearings and confirmation, prior to the resolution of the impasse over the selection of the prime minister in Iraq, during the run-up to and immediate aftermath of the election of the new House majority leader, and right through the first immigration debate in the Senate over McCain-Kennedy, there was in fact a moment or two when it seemed like the GOP base might just quit the game.
But with the rejection of the immigration approach favored by the Democrats and the mavericks, the appearance of some fiscal discipline among some senators, the slow but certain march towards the confirmation of future Judges Kavanaugh, Boyle, Haynes etc, the word that the White House will be back in the judicial nominations business very soon, and --most of all-- the return of the war to the public's consciousness because of Iran's manifest aggressiveness on nukes and Israel and undeniable threats in Central and South America, suddenly the election if framed --again--- as a choice between the serious though flawed party of victory, growth, and border security and the party of surrender, to both the jihadists abroad and the demands for amnesty now and again in the future at home.
There are undeniable signs of GOP renewal, in Senate races in Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Washington State, Montana and Missouri --and perhaps next week in Florida-- as well as great candidates for governor in Blackwell in Ohio and Swann in Pennsyvlania. As Michael Barone has argued, the GOP voters just seem to keep turning out, despite their grumbling.
Bill Kristol has argued that 9/11 may have changed American politics far more than we know, and I suspect the president's poll numbers --to the extent they are accurate-- reflect not dismay with the war, but dismay with the Administration's occasional appearance of placing priority on other than the war. Telling the American people that there is no substitute for victory in Iraq and firmness with Iran even to the point of confrontation is exactly the reassurance that serious people need. The president has been doing this for months, but he and his Adminsitration have beeen helped in recent weeks by the appearnce of the left's venom and its effects on the Democratic leadership. The party is truly unhinged, and a voite for any Democrat will be a vote for defeat, and not just in Iraq.
Suddenly, the debate is back where it ought to be, on the war, judges, taxes, spending and also border security. The 12 words have begun 15:
Win the war.
Confirm the judges.
Cut the taxes.
Control the spending.
Secure the border.
Democrats stand for the opposite of each proposition.
As Larry Kudlow reported on last night's show after his interview with the president, President Bush is ready for the campaign:
HH: Now Larry Kudlow, there's always a story behind the story as well, which has to do with temperament, how he looks, how it feels. How's the President feel to you? Energized or worn down?
LK: I have never seen him better, Hugh, and I've known him for over 20 years. In fact, he and I used to room together at a golf outing in California for a couple of years. This goes back to the middle 80's. And he was relaxed, he was calm, he was optimistic. When I challenged him during this interview, he was more than happy to come back to me and defend his positions. He looked well rested. I mean, I was very, very impressed. I've had a bunch of phone calls that people said they've never seen him look better. The interesting thing was after the cameras went down, he stayed with me for another 25 minutes in the same chair. And we start taking back and forth. He wants to talk. And we're talking about goofy Republicans in the Senate, and how they're departing from first principles. We talked about the war, which he thinks we are winning. We talked about the economy and the tax cut strategy. I mean, he just stayed there and talked when the cameras were off. It was absolutely fascinating. Absolutely fascinating.
The economy is cooking. The government in Iraq is forming. The battle over the judges has begun again. The tax cuts will get to the president's desk soon. And the immigration debate seemws to have settled on this center-right proposition (long advocated here and in my new book): Fence first. Regularization after the fence is finished.
And just in case the social conservatives were feeling left out (despite two incredible SCOTUS appointments) the Senate Democrats have decided to force a fight over judges just as the California Democrats --the leading edge of the left's cultural revolution-- have decided that the problem with public education is that it doesn't spend enough time teaching first graders (and all students) about gays and lesbians. (More on SB 1437 Monday, which will quickly become a national story, and which Arnold will have to veto.)
So the corner has been turned.
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