July 5, 2006
The Tides Turn in Favor of Bush and the GOPBy Noel Sheppard
Did you hear that sound on Thursday, June 29? That was millions of conservatives gasping in horror when the Supreme Court issued its Hamdan v. Rumsfeld decision seemingly giving the Bush administration a stunning defeat over terrorist detention centers at Guantanamo Bay.
Irrespective of such justifiable concerns, when combined with another leak by the New York Times of a counterterrorism program just six days prior, Republicans were actually handed a tremendous gift dramatically improving their chances to hold both chambers of Congress in the November elections.
To be sure, the nine months following Hurricane Katrina weren't as hard on the Bush administration as on the citizens of New Orleans, but that's certainly not what the dominant media would have you believe. As energy prices rose, other events such as a withdrawn Supreme Court nomination, increased chaos in Iraq, revelations about a covert terrorist surveillance program, the proposed sale of U.S. ports to an Arab nation, and illegal immigration protests led to continual declines in the President's popularity.
As these events transpired, the left and their media minions began a campaign to convince Americans that the midterm elections were all but over, and it was a metaphysical certitude that the Democrats would win back the House of Representatives, while having a good shot at the Senate as well. So strong was their confidence that members of the media started referring to Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House, and Harry Reid as Senate Majority Leader.
Despite such unwarranted enthusiasm, the currents dramatically changed in June. This tidal shift began with the killing of al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al—Zarqawi, followed by President Bush's surprise visit to Iraq, and culminating with the New York Times SWIFT article and the Hamdan decision. As a result, in a matter of just three weeks, the political discussion moved from illegal immigration, same—sex marriage, and Iraq, to an issue that Americans still feel Bush and the Republicans are better at handling...the War on Terror.
In effect, the Times and the Supreme Court changed the playing field of political discourse as drastically as moving a Yankees—Red Sox game from Fenway Park to the Bronx. In doing so, they also served Republicans up a fastball right over the heart of the plate that should be easy for them to whack out of the park.
In the past few days, noted Republicans have already taken some good swings. According to a July 2 Agence France Press article,
By contrast, the Democrats, having just lost homefield advantage, weren't seeing the ball very well. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi despicably said the following about the Hamdan decision:
A few days later, the Los Angeles Times reported this opinion issued by and for a high—ranking Democrat:
And, the New York Times reported on July 3:
The disparity in sentiment and reaction to this issue between the two parties was even evident at the Times:
Amazing difference, isn't it? On the right came a determination to use this Court decision to create legislation that would not only address the detention centers at Gitmo, but also how captured terrorists should be treated in the future. On the left came the typical castigations of the president and his policies without any suggestion as to how this matter should be resolved.
This gave the Republicans such a huge advantage in the debate that even the Los Angeles Times recognized it:
By contrast, the Times wasn't so pleased with how the Democrats were behaving:
The Times also cited one of its recent polls indicating how strong June has been for Bush and the Republicans as it pertains to terrorism:
Add it all up, and the last three weeks represent one of the most dramatic shifts in politics since Jim Jeffords' defection from the Republican Party less than five months after Bush was first inaugurated.
Most importantly, as was the case in Novembers 2002 and 2004, the War on Terror and national security are again on the front burner with the Republicans taking the lead, and the Democrats having absolutely nothing to add to the discussion but vitriol aimed at the president.
This raises an oft—repeated question the past nineteen months: When are the Democrats going to realize that Bush is not running for re—election?
Regardless of the answer, if Republicans do push for legislation on terrorist detention centers and national security issues in the weeks to come, this will likely further divide Democrats seeking re—election in November versus those seeking a presidential nomination in 2008.
Much as what transpired in the previous two elections, such a division will, once again, make the Democrats look soft and indecisive on this important issue while making it easy for Republicans to illustrate the critical differences between the two parties when it comes to defense and national security.
As a result, it looks like the Republicans are going to once again be playing in their own ballpark this November. And, although Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid don't see it yet, Hamdan and SWIFT have likely doomed their hopes of becoming Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leader.
Noel Sheppard is a contributing writer to the Business & Media Institute, as well as contributing editor for the Media Research Center's NewsBusters.org. He welcomes feedback .