Bush's battlefield position trumps the Democrats

The critics of the President in the mainstream media are shocked to discover that, after the first 100 days of his second administration, he is stuck in a "quagmire."  They note his languishing popularity, the so—far losing fight over Social Security, the 'controversial' Bolton nomination, the gridlock over the judicial filibuster, and the continuing death toll from Iraq.  But they are judging the president by the standards of the Clinton administration. 

President Clinton and his team wanted to build a 'legacy.'  President Bush, on the other hand, wants to get things done.  When you want to get things done, you sometimes have to fight for them, and the President has chosen the year of 2005 for a great political battle.  He has decided to fight the Democrats over the issue of appeals court judges and is bringing the issue of the judicial filibuster to a trial of strength in the U.S. Senate.  On top of that he is assembling his forces to challenge the Democrats to the right to define the future of Social Security. 

His decision means that, for the time being, the political armies of the nation will not be marching, advancing and retreating, but will be deployed upon the field of battle and beating each other's brains out.  This is what liberals call a "quagmire."

During a battle it is tempting to stop everything and watch the spectacle, the shells arcing high above the political battlefield before plunging with an eerie scream and a clump into the fortified lines of the opposed armies.  But let us step back and think about the possible outcomes from the battle.

If President Bush wins the judicial filibuster fight, then Republicans will be able to get some traction in their attempt to reform the judicial branch. Judges may well 'get the message' and lay off implementing the liberal agenda by fiat instead of legislation.  Democrats will use their defeat to flog their base into a frenzy of rage, not that it isn't already convinced that the United States is a right—wing fascist state of the kind imagined by Margaret Atwood in The Handmaid's Tale.

If President Bush loses the filibuster fight and the judges respond by continuing unabashed in their liberal activist ways, then Democrats will think they have won a famous victory.  But Republicans will gain as liberals drive another sector of the old New Deal coalition into the Republican camp.  This is the 15 percent of registered voters identified by the Pew Research Center as 'Conservative Democrats.'  These new recruits would be the Democrats that didn't care enough when the judges banned school prayer, didn't feel it mattered enough when the Supreme Court found penumbras in the Constitution that mandated abortion on demand, but are finally going to care when the judges redefine marriage to include same—sex and polyamorous relationships.  If you are wondering what 'polyamorous' means, it refers to the kind of sexual activity that used to horrify liberals when practiced by right—wing Mormons over a century ago in the territory of Utah, but updated to allow anyone any number of any—gendered permanent partners.

In the Social Security fight, the President occupies another can't—lose position.  If he can get the camel's nose of private accounts under the tent, then he has won a great victory, the first step in the march to lead Americans from their present over—dependency upon government to the sunny green uplands of self—governance and independence.  In financial matters Americans would learn to have more faith in neighbor Vanguard and golfing buddy Fidelity than in good old Uncle Sam, especially when the poor old chap gets confused about just where he put all those Social Security IOUs. 

If Bush loses, then who cares?  Social Security is the Democrats' problem. They are the ones who insisted that government do it all. Like General Motors and the major airlines, Democrats have promised far more to their stakeholders than they can possibly deliver.  Sooner or later, like GM's retirees and the employees of the bankrupt United Airlines, rank—and—file Democrats are going to be sorely disappointed.  It ought to be Democrats that disappoint them.

There is one thing that President Bush must not do, and that is raise taxes.  The great federal spending programs: Social Security, Medicare, education, social services—these are all designed by Democrats to benefit Democrats.  It's the payoff from sixty years of effective control of Congress.  Why should the Republicans raise taxes and pull the Democrats' chestnuts out of the fire? 

Let the Democrats raise taxes.  'I've never worked so hard in my life,' they'll croak, recalling President Clinton's famous line in 1993, as they raise taxes—on Republicans, of course.  The experience will be salutary for all those entrepreneurial Americans who feel too embarrassed about the Bible thumpers of the Religious Right to vote for the party of low taxes and personal freedom.  There is nothing like a hit in the pocketbook to help a fellow overcome a little thing like anti—religious bigotry. 

Christopher Chantrill (mailto:chrischantrill@msn.com) blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.  His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.

The critics of the President in the mainstream media are shocked to discover that, after the first 100 days of his second administration, he is stuck in a "quagmire."  They note his languishing popularity, the so—far losing fight over Social Security, the 'controversial' Bolton nomination, the gridlock over the judicial filibuster, and the continuing death toll from Iraq.  But they are judging the president by the standards of the Clinton administration. 

President Clinton and his team wanted to build a 'legacy.'  President Bush, on the other hand, wants to get things done.  When you want to get things done, you sometimes have to fight for them, and the President has chosen the year of 2005 for a great political battle.  He has decided to fight the Democrats over the issue of appeals court judges and is bringing the issue of the judicial filibuster to a trial of strength in the U.S. Senate.  On top of that he is assembling his forces to challenge the Democrats to the right to define the future of Social Security. 

His decision means that, for the time being, the political armies of the nation will not be marching, advancing and retreating, but will be deployed upon the field of battle and beating each other's brains out.  This is what liberals call a "quagmire."

During a battle it is tempting to stop everything and watch the spectacle, the shells arcing high above the political battlefield before plunging with an eerie scream and a clump into the fortified lines of the opposed armies.  But let us step back and think about the possible outcomes from the battle.

If President Bush wins the judicial filibuster fight, then Republicans will be able to get some traction in their attempt to reform the judicial branch. Judges may well 'get the message' and lay off implementing the liberal agenda by fiat instead of legislation.  Democrats will use their defeat to flog their base into a frenzy of rage, not that it isn't already convinced that the United States is a right—wing fascist state of the kind imagined by Margaret Atwood in The Handmaid's Tale.

If President Bush loses the filibuster fight and the judges respond by continuing unabashed in their liberal activist ways, then Democrats will think they have won a famous victory.  But Republicans will gain as liberals drive another sector of the old New Deal coalition into the Republican camp.  This is the 15 percent of registered voters identified by the Pew Research Center as 'Conservative Democrats.'  These new recruits would be the Democrats that didn't care enough when the judges banned school prayer, didn't feel it mattered enough when the Supreme Court found penumbras in the Constitution that mandated abortion on demand, but are finally going to care when the judges redefine marriage to include same—sex and polyamorous relationships.  If you are wondering what 'polyamorous' means, it refers to the kind of sexual activity that used to horrify liberals when practiced by right—wing Mormons over a century ago in the territory of Utah, but updated to allow anyone any number of any—gendered permanent partners.

In the Social Security fight, the President occupies another can't—lose position.  If he can get the camel's nose of private accounts under the tent, then he has won a great victory, the first step in the march to lead Americans from their present over—dependency upon government to the sunny green uplands of self—governance and independence.  In financial matters Americans would learn to have more faith in neighbor Vanguard and golfing buddy Fidelity than in good old Uncle Sam, especially when the poor old chap gets confused about just where he put all those Social Security IOUs. 

If Bush loses, then who cares?  Social Security is the Democrats' problem. They are the ones who insisted that government do it all. Like General Motors and the major airlines, Democrats have promised far more to their stakeholders than they can possibly deliver.  Sooner or later, like GM's retirees and the employees of the bankrupt United Airlines, rank—and—file Democrats are going to be sorely disappointed.  It ought to be Democrats that disappoint them.

There is one thing that President Bush must not do, and that is raise taxes.  The great federal spending programs: Social Security, Medicare, education, social services—these are all designed by Democrats to benefit Democrats.  It's the payoff from sixty years of effective control of Congress.  Why should the Republicans raise taxes and pull the Democrats' chestnuts out of the fire? 

Let the Democrats raise taxes.  'I've never worked so hard in my life,' they'll croak, recalling President Clinton's famous line in 1993, as they raise taxes—on Republicans, of course.  The experience will be salutary for all those entrepreneurial Americans who feel too embarrassed about the Bible thumpers of the Religious Right to vote for the party of low taxes and personal freedom.  There is nothing like a hit in the pocketbook to help a fellow overcome a little thing like anti—religious bigotry. 

Christopher Chantrill (mailto:chrischantrill@msn.com) blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.  His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.