GOP Paradise for Bush
By Jeff Crouere
approval rating of President George W. Bush is now at the lowest point
of his presidency. Bush
has an anemic 42% approval rating right now, much lower than Richard
Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton at this point in their
presidency. In fact,
Bush’s approval rating at this juncture in his term is similar to
Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush, who all
lost re-election campaigns.
Bush is suffering because of the
problems in Iraq. Over
the past few months, casualties have increased dramatically.
In addition, there have been mounting questions about the
operation in Iraq with concerns about the transfer of power to Iraq
authorities on June 30, 2004. With
the prisoner abuse scandal making even more people question the
conduct of the Bush administration, good news on the economic front
has been overshadowed. In
fact, in the last two months, economic growth and employment numbers
have skyrocketed bolstering claims from the President that his tax
cuts would have a beneficial impact on the economy. Unfortunately for
Bush, voters are not focusing on the good economic news right now.
If voters are concentrating on an economic issue it is the
rapidly rising gasoline prices. Now, Americans are facing historically
high prices of over $2.00 per gallon for gasoline. These high gas
prices are another problem for President Bush, especially with
millions of Americans vacationing this summer and facing increasing
costs for travel.
In light of the troubling
developments in Iraq and at the pump, and with the crumbling poll
numbers, the political advisers for President Bush have to be
re-election is now very suspect and the respected pollster John Zogby
has stated that the “election is John Kerry’s to lose.” To make
matters worse, Bush is even having trouble holding his Republican
base. In a recent Zogby poll, almost 20% of Republicans are not
solidly behind the President’s re-election. Bush is having plenty of
difficulty garnering Independent and Democratic voters so motivating
the GOP base is crucial for the President to win in November. Who are
these Republicans questioning a Bush second term?
Despite all of the Republican
concerns, the most pressing involves federal spending, which has grown
much more in this administration than in the rather liberal Clinton
administration. Whereas there were surpluses in the Clinton administration,
there are now increasing budget deficits in the Bush administration.
Of course, the 9-11 attacks led to the creation of the Homeland
Security Department and increased defense spending. Also, the
operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are costing billons of dollars with
no end in sight. However, some conservatives question whether a
massive new federal bureaucracy is the best way to fight terrorism.
According to Heritage Foundation researcher Dr. Daniel Mitchell,
“…government inevitably wastes money and deprives the private
sector of resources that could be used to boost jobs and create
growth. This is why discretionary spending should be reduced.” Yet,
billions of dollars have been pumped into the war on terror and new
agencies like the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have
Has this new bureaucracy made us
safer? According to Homeland Security Department’s Inspector General
Clark Kent Ervin, the TSA is too bureaucratic and airport security
remains much too lax. Our airport security problems are so bad that
House Aviation Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL) recently stated,
“We have a system that doesn’t work.”
After federalizing all airport screeners and spending billions
of dollars, and with terrorist threats everywhere, such a situation is
unacceptable. Federal spending is not just increasing in the areas of
defense and the war on terror; unfortunately, all federal spending has
been increasing rapidly. This year, the budget deficit is expected to
rise over $500 billion. In fact, Brian Riedl of the Heritage
Foundation analyzed Bush administration spending and found that United
States government spending has now topped $20,000 per household, a
post World War II record. Some
reasons why spending has accelerated so rapidly can be found in Bush
administration priorities like the “No Child Left Behind” act
which dramatically boosted spending in the Department of Education,
which Republicans like Ronald Reagan used to advocate eliminating.
Also, President Bush signed a $180 billion farm bill, which included
wasteful spending, corporate welfare, unnecessary subsidies and plenty
of just plain pork.
So, spending and immigration
contribute to GOP problems for President Bush as he prepares for the
re-election battle ahead. To win, he will obviously need a solid GOP
base, yet 20% of Republicans are not on board with his re-election
campaign. At this point, the chances of Bush winning re-election are
at best 50/50. He needs to work extremely hard over the next few
months to not only reach out to Independents and Democrats, but to
figure out how to secure the support of his party.
His best hope to unify the party is to paint John Kerry as a
completely unattractive candidate so that no matter what problems
Republicans have with Bush; very few will find John Kerry an
acceptable alternative. An anti-Kerry strategy is a time tested
political maneuver, which seems to be the one the Bush campaign will
try to use to bring Republicans on board and squeak out a victory in
November. We’ll know in a few months if it succeeds.
Jeff Crouere is a native of New Orleans, LA and his Louisiana based program, Ringside Politics, airs from noon to 2 p.m. weekdays on WTIX 690 AM radio and at 8:30 p.m. Friday and 10:30 p.m. Sunday on WLAE-TV Channel 32. His Web site is at www.ringsidepolitics.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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