Sunday, May 19, 2002
Which came first? The chicken or the egg? Today's Washington Post has a front page article which trumpets: "Bush Turns More Partisan With Coming of Elections."
President Bush and the White House have set aside earlier worries about the president openly engaging in political matters, launching an unabashedly partisan effort for November's congressional elections.
First, is anyone surprised, given Sen. James Jeffords' flip-flop and the ensuing roadblocks put up by the newly-elevated Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, that Bush would want Republican control of both houses of Congress? I'd have to check the archives, but was the Post decrying this sort of thing when FDR was president?
Second, where is the article with the following lede?
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, along with his colleagues in the House, has decided to put aside earlier pledges for unity in the war on terrorism, launching an unabashedly partisan effort to paint the president's actions leading up to Sept. 11 as something just short of treason.
Later in the article, the Post reaches back into yesteryear to try to tar Bush as a liar.
Bush came to office with promises to govern by "principle, not politics," and to "change the tone" of Washington discourse. He had a reputation for such actions as governor of Texas, and some of his first actions in Washington -- backing a vast tax cut, despite polls indicating weak support for it, and negotiating with liberal Democrats over education reform -- supported this reputation.
Since Sept. 11, Bush had carefully balanced his twin roles as commander in chief and leader of the Republican Party.
But now, advisers to Bush have concluded that he and his staff have no choice but to play an overtly political role in the months before November's elections. Advisers to the president say they have concluded that it is impossible to work with Senate Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) and that they must restore Republican rule in that chamber to have any hope of enacting Bush's agenda.
It takes two to tango. When it comes to campaign finance reform, Democrats (and some Republicans) called the vast soft-money donations the very epitome of evil -- then refused to stop soliciting them. The Democratic Party went as far as to pay for their new national headquarters up front, in order to be able to use soft money. The mantra was that they did not want to unilateraly disarm.
The Democrats, and the Post, appear to want Bush to unilaterally disarm when it comes to fighting for the president's agenda. The Democrats decry the president's tax cut (but then refuse to call for its repeal), and when the president challenges them, they cry "partisanship."
And then a Democrat inflates his numbers.
Bush "is trying to do two things simultaneously that are diametrically opposed: staying above the fray in appealing to the urge to sacrifice of Americans, while demonizing almost 50 percent of us," said Jim Jordan, director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
Most polls of Americans show a political breakdown of approximately 40/40/20 for Republicans/Democrats/Independents. And most polls show that on many of these issues, more people identify with the president's position.
Increasingly, though, Bush and his aides have made aggressive use of many of the tactics he deplored when the Clinton administration employed them. For example, Washington Monthly magazine calculated from Republican National Committee filings that Bush's pollsters received nearly $1 million in 2001 -- half as much as President Bill Clinton's pollsters got during that administration's first year but a tidy sum for a president who says he does not use polls.
Let's clarify this for a moment. Bush says he does not use polls to decide what his position on the issue is -- that is a different use of polls than when Clinton was president, according to former Clinton poll man Dick Morris. Bush's team uses polls to help them create strategies to get the American people behind the president's plans. The position is a given, the method for winning over the public is what the polls are for.
The Post shouldn't be surprised by the fact that the president, or anyone else for that matter, is engaged in politics leading up to an election. The naivete is disturbing. Or is it just an example of good ol' liberal media bias?