…and I would absolutely love to believe articles like this, but I’m more skeptical.
As my coworker and I were discussing, it’s still not clear what the aftermath will be. He stressed that the right wing has not yet lost, and I stressed that they have not yet won. I do think the longer they remain at “not yet winning” the more possible it is they could lose the PR battle so from that standpoint, I’m cautiously encouraged. However, as my coworker points out, they could still spin things enough to “not lose” which would amount to winning, and he’s got a point.
As I mentioned before, the key is not for Democrats to object to Bush’s administration. It’s expected that they will, although I must say they show remarkably little will at this point. The Democrat party in this country has been absolutely comatose and belly up for much of the last five years, and I am thoroughly underimpressed with them at this point. I didn’t vote for Kerry because I thought he was a good candidate: I voted for him because he wasn’t Bush. And the party is in deep trouble when that’s generally true. Even recent polls on Bush’s unpopularity that show him losing against every president since Carter still show Kerry losing to Bush. Even though the battle PR doesn’t depend on the Democrat party suddenly growing a spine and demanding accounting, it’s unhelpful to have nothing much coming out of that corner.
If nothing else, there should be a massive campaign for an independent committee to investigate the federal and state response to the hurricane. Yes, the Democrats protested. Yes, they threatened to boycott the “bipartisan” congressional committee. Yes, they’ve protested at not being able to see or amend the relief bill before voting on it. Although I note with irony that it’s the Republicans who voted against it that are being excoriated — however their objections lay not in the area of accountability but in the loss of money for their own projects, or just the concept of spending money at all (never mind the mindboggling amounts spent thus far on more favored hobby horses). But none of this is really registering on anyone’s radar other than already committed political junkies. The Democrat party needs to find a way to reach out to the people, and fast. I’m not hopeful.
The key is for the Republicans to split over this, They may well do so, since there’s already a split among old guard and “neocon” elements within the party. I’m seeing Republicans critical of the Katrina aftermath, and I’m seeing other Republicans aghast at the amount of spending proposed in the recovery effort and being diverted away from the things they (still) consider more important. This part is fascinating — a split, but neither faction overtly supporting Bush 100%. There are two blocs critical of what Bush is doing, from within his own party. He’s gotten as far as he has by beating together all these elements in the Republican party into a cohesive whole. When that falls apart, so will his administration and political power. Even his New Orleans speech Thursday night came under under fire. I don’t think it has fallen apart. I’m very hopeful there’s a “yet” there, and Blumenthal’s rosy article can become fact indeed.
So the Bush administration is still stumbling in its political recovery campaign. But it has not yet lost. It might be able to pull the different elements in the Republican party together. Certainly Rove has pulled that off before, with all of his utterly nasty tactics. It’s much more accurate to say it has not yet won. I think the outcome is still not yet clear even though the administration is clearly heavily damaged by this whole fiasco.