The GOP will lose its majority in one of the houses of Congress–and maybe both–if the president continues sliding with his own base. We will stay home. We will continue mailing in cero peso notes at the RNC’s expense. We will sit on our hands and watch the Dems take power.
I think it’s actually in Bush’s narrow political interests to lose either the Senate or the House, but not both. Losing one gives him a foil to battle; right now, with the GOP in control of everything and everything (in the public’s perception) going haywire, he ends up taking all of the blame for the bad and none of the credit for the good. And there is some good. The economy is running at full employment, with good jobs being created every day. Inflation is a minor threat, not a looming menace. That’s in spite of high gas prices, which are due mostly to supply/demand issues and the influence of the Iranians and other despots on the oil market. And Iraq is much better than the press routinely reports. Saddam is in the dock and even al Qaeda admits its goose is cooked there. By battling a real foil atop a real part of the government, Bush could tout the good and pin some of the bad on someone else. Or at least try to.
So it’s in his narrow interests to lose the Senate, less so the House, and not at all both. Losing both virtually guarantees that the Pelosi Democrats will try to impeach him, and you never know, they might succeed with an allied Senate. The way things are going, Bush’s unpopularity could drag down the entire GOP ticket, which though it’s running against the worst Democrats in American history, could lose power virtually across the board. The stakes couldn’t be higher; the Democrats have already signalled they’ll not only investigate Bush to death but they may defund the Iraq war and “strategically redeploy” the military out of every place it’s actually useful to have a military presence. They will make nice with Iran. They don’t believe in American exceptionalism, and will act accordingly.
How can Bush turn things around in time to shore up his base enough to want to vote in the mid-terms? By u-turning on the singular issue that is hurting him more than any other: immigration. Over to Powerline:
Give a major speech in prime time. Say that you still think that a long-term solution to the immigration issue should include a guest worker program. Acknowledge, however, that many Americans disagree and there is currently no consensus on a long-range policy. Say that, more fundamentally, you’re now convinced that our first priority has to be getting control over our borders. Until we control our borders, and know who is coming and going, any immigration policy we may announce will be meaningless anyway.
So, discussion about long-term approaches to immigration will continue. But in the meantime, your priority will be securing the borders and enforcing the laws currently on the books. Which means that the crackdown on employers of illegals will be expanded. Announce some specific measures to begin securing the Mexican border, preferably including some kind of fence.
This simple act will cause your approval ratings to begin rebounding, re-energize Republicans, and assure that the party keeps its Congressional majorities in November. If you really want to get the conservative base back in your corner, go and meet with the Minutemen–on camera–and tell them you appreciate what they’re doing.
That would do it, provided he means it and follows through. The GOP base rightly sees the porous border with Mexico as a national security issue (same for the Canadian border, though it’s seen as less of a threat given Canada’s open opposition to al Qaeda and Mexico’s curious silence about the same, and given the huge illegal alien rallies that have soured American attitudes toward Mexico pretty much across the board). That same base once saw President Bush as a national security president. First the Dubai ports deal and now his continuing intransigence on the border and the story that his Border Patrol has been spying on US citizens on behalf of Mexico has enraged the base. Enraged. Not annoyed. Not irritated or dismayed. Enraged. We no longer see President Bush as a security president. He is now part of the problem, if not its chief instigator.
The only way to fix this is to do a full u-turn, more or less as described by Powerline. Give the speech, meet the Minutemen–and then follow through and secure the border, visibly and proudly. Vicente Fox won’t like it, but the American people will. Whom do you serve, Mr. President?