A very good piece by EJ Dionne today in the Post. And not just because he's right, but because the GOP should take what he's said to heart.
Back in 2002 and 2003 and even 2004 when W was about as popular as a President can be, the GOP apparently thought that they would forever be the most popular and only party in America. They were the New Party of the 21st Century. The Democrats were also rans, out of ideas and politically a mess. They were somewhat right about the Democrats, they were (and maybe still are) out of ideas and they were a political mess.
But the GOP were way off on their own position in American politics. It was almost as if they totally forgot they barely won the 2000 election (and in fact, Bush lost the popular vote). They didn't have a mandate like the Democrats did in 1932 or Labour did in 1997 or that they even had in 1994 in Congress. They were a party that won by the skin of their teeth (or better yet, because of the voting system in this country).
When they were going around in 2002 and 2003 as if they were the Forever Party, it didn't make sense. Bush, who came to power as a 'compassionate conservative' was anything but during this time. He surrounded himself with political hacks and talked up partisan politics - all this during a time of change, concern, and uncertainty in the US as we felt our way though the effects of 9/11. He built a huge house of cards, and looked as if and believed that he was The Man and no one was ever going to touch him until he had to step down in 2008.
Of course that house of cards fell and Bush is probably looking at approval ratings of 35% until he leaves office... I wouldn't be surprised if he was the first President not to get a boost in his ratings when he's about to leave. I'm getting ahead of myself, because that's still 18 months away.
Bush will be president until Jan. 20, 2009. Are we doomed to 18 months of drift? Instead of sounding like a Republican political consultant, Bush might try to sound like a president who understands that power in Washington -- and opinion in the country -- shifted after the 2006 elections.
That, my friends, is a long ass time. And going by the last six months, Bush seems some what contempt to just ride out these 18th months. Besides the 'Surge' and his failed, somewhat half ass, attempt to get the immigration bill though Congress (which showed how weak he is), Bush hasn't done much over the last few months besides talk about what he always talks about... nonsense and no one is buying it anymore.
Bush and company would be smart to take some of Dionne and Sarkozy's advise. No, he doesn't have to make peace with Al Gore or any other Democrat - American politics doesn't work that way. But he could try to work with the Democrats and attempt to do something; it might just boost his image and help his, what appears to be already tarnished, legacy. Because after all, 18 months is a decent amount of time to waste.