Thursday, April 13, 2006

Laura's Spring E-Blast! (Self-Help for W)

Laura's Spring E-Blast!
March 21, 2006

Self-Help for W

Doesn't it seems like it was a lot longer than two years ago when President Bush, fresh off his 2004 victory, said to a roaring crowd of supporters: "I have earned political capital and I intend to spend it"?
Now it's the same story every day--The president's popularity "reaches another all time low" according to a survey by ZogbyGallupRasmussenFieldWSJMSNBCFoxABC. Then, at the next press briefing, the White House spokesman dismisses it as irrelevant.

Polls aren't everything but obviously the Bush Administration has to stop the bleeding. The left is energized, the "mainstream" press smells blood in the water, and the base is restless. So what to do?

1. Emphasize why the Iraqi war has been good for America. The Administration spends too much time trying to convince Americans that the war has improved the lives of Iraqis, and that we should be proud that we overthrew Saddam Hussein. As delighted as many of us are about both those facts, the truth is that now most U.S. voters just aren't that interested in the welfare of the Iraqi people. What Americans want to hear is why the Iraq war was/is ultimately worth the treasure and blood we continue to spend there. The President needs to consistently remind America that long-term, we will be better off leaving behind a stable, non-threatening Iraq. How will success in Iraq help us avoid other terror-related problems in the future? The Administration should tone down the touchy-feely talk about democracy around the world, and talk more about all of the terrorists who have been captured or killed. Each killed or captured is one less killer we'll have to fight in the future. And while he's at it challenge the MSM to spend as much time covering the heroes of Iraq and Afghanistan as they do the latest twist in Brad and Angelina's relationship.

2. Get serious about border enforcement. The border wars are hurting President Bush on two levels. First, the untrammeled flow of immigrants is significantly increasing the supply of low-income labor, making it much harder for some Americans to find well-paying jobs. As a result, these Americans have become much less optimistic about their economic prospects-- a result that can be seen in repeated polling data showing that Americans still do not feel confident about the economy. Second, the failure to enforce the law makes the GOP look weak on what is, after all, a security issue. The President has a lot of interesting ideas about immigrants, what to do with the illegals already here, but the voters are not going to listen to him until he shows that he will actually enforce existing law.

3. Get serious about spending cuts. The complete and utter inability of the GOP to control spending is having a devastating impact on the credibility of all Republicans. After spending decades calling for smaller government, the GOP is now presiding over one of the largest explosions of government spending the country has ever seen. How can Republicans criticize Democratic plans for new government programs when they have to raise the government's debt ceiling every other week? Furthermore, how can the voters trust Republicans to keep taxes low when it is obvious that the U.S. government will have to raise taxes in order to pay for all the new spending that is taking place? Bush needs to pick a high-profile fight on spending to show that he is serious about this issue.

4. Keep fighting the war for judicial confirmations. President Bush's two biggest success stories over the last year were his two Supreme Court appointments. Justices Roberts and Alito were popular with the country, and their confirmations confounded liberals who did not like having to debate the merits of judicial activism in public. There are a number of other highly qualified judicial nominees -- Brett Kavanaugh, nominee for a seat on the D.C. Circuit, for example -- still being strangled in the Senate. Tell their stories and force the Democrats to defend their blocking strategy. By forcing a showdown with the Democrats over this issue, President Bush will once again rally his base and remind conservatives why it is important that the GOP maintains control of Congress.

None of the above will encourage inside-the-beltway reporters to give the President a fair shake, but those who showed up to vote for him in 2004 will certainly take notice. If the base becomes any more wobbly or dispirited, then the President will not be able to escape the lame duck label. And last time I checked, lame ducks didn't have any pockets to hold their "political capital."

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