In an article appearing in today’s Courier-Journal, syndicated columnist David Brooks of the New York Times surveys “Scenes from America’s Meltdown.”
According to Brooks, congressmen have been gauging the mood back home in their districts, and some are finding that President Bush has become “radioactive”:
The most interesting tales came from Republicans elected from districts President Bush carried by fewer than 10 points. Those districts were once moderately supportive of the President, but now, as one member of Congress said, the anger at Bush is so deep it’s almost indescribable.
Today’s Doonesbury comic enumerates the reasons for this discontent, although it should be noted that Brooks dismisses these objections in any specific sense, preferring to describe the current situation as an amalgam of uneasiness that has led to Americans feeling unsafe.
Talk radio personality Mark receives a listener call: “All the Democrats can do now is play this blame game.”
Mark responds, “That’s because you Republicans make it so easy.”
Let’s recall you’ve controlled all three branches of government for the past five years, so an endless bloody war – your fault. Torture – your policy. The ruin of America’s standing abroad – yours! Turning budget surpluses into record deficits – your fault! Huge increases in poverty and uninsured rates – your watch! Cancelled treaties, trashed environmental laws, the gutting of FEMA, bungled disaster relief – all your fault!
The caller replies, “Traitorous liberal media – your fault,” and Mark concedes, “oops, I keep forgetting. Okay, so it’s not a shutout.”
Returning to the analysis of Brooks, who doesn’t spare the rhetorical rod in describing the performance of opposition Democrats as “pathetic” and the party as “run by imbeciles,” the GOP is seen as experiencing a “moment of Republican glasnost,” with the party’s central leadership inert, and ideas, rebellion and innovation bubbling up from “all fronts.”
The Republicans are going to end up localizing the election … (people) want achievable ideas. The best ones I heard were from members who wanted to promote open-space initiatives and suburban livability, members who wanted to reduce medical paperwork. This is politics on the aldermanic level, probably right for the moment.
As noted yesterday, city and county Republicans as an entity generally have stepped courteously aside in recent months and permitted local Democrats like the City Council’s tone deaf Gang of Four to warble the Luddite mating call of obstructionism, blind rage, and societal dysfunction, merely awaiting the inevitable moment when a nominal Democrat like the scentless 3rd district uncouncilman Steve Price chooses to echo Pol Pot and announce to the world that people wearing glasses are guilt of too much book learnin’ and are ripe for reeducation.
An exaggeration, perhaps, but you wouldn’t bet against it, would you?
The Brooks article prompts a question: If in fact we’re witnessing the phenomenon of Republican “glasnost,” and if this rethinking is emanating from the ground up, then who are the local practitioners?
In this context, can an argument be made for 9th District congressman Mike Sodrel, who reversed course on the Greenway project, but who otherwise is uncomfortably close to the Dick Cheney imperialist wing of the GOP?
Does it remain the case that in local terms, both Democrats and Republicans are so fundamentally conservative as to rule out innovative thinking from genetic predetermination, and that consequently, there is no difference between the two when it comes to positions?
Like we’ve said from the start, it may be something in the water that numbs some minds and leaves others free to think.