It is primarily a rant. Thanks in advance for your indulgence.
President Bush has been enjoying a lengthy run as a very admired leader. Deservedly. Gray 6 yesterday made a good argument that the President should husband his considerable political capital and not spend it on arguing for appointees.
So why has he entered the political fray by encouraging the liberal Richard Riordan to become the Republican nominee for Governor of California? Why has he endorsed the politically inscrutable Liddy Dole to replace the irreplaceable Jesse Helms?
Simultaneously, we hear informed reports that Mr. Bush plans to sign the abominable campaign "reform" bill coursing through the Congress. Is abrogating his responsibility to protect and defend the Constitution simply more smart politics?
Mr. Bush should consider the source of the capital he has laid in store. It has been earned by his clear words and deeds. He has led. He has brought people to his side of the argument, or dismissed them as wrong. This currency cannot be exchanged in the marketplace run by opportunists.
Gray 6 is correct in noting that the President should not spend his time in arguments and pick his fights carefully. He may even be using a rope-a-dope strategy of letting the Democrats self immolate trying to appease all of their disparate factions. If so, fine. But does he need to water down conservatism within the Republican party at a time when conservatism is arguably on the rise among independents and at a time when Reagan Democrats seem ready to reassert themselves?
Speaking of Democrat self-immolation. It is the nature of factional politics that eventually your factions will have divergent interests. Consider the following situations and decide whether you would rather have the Republican or Democrat hand.
Energy politics has the Democrats supporting higher CAFÉ standards and opposing drilling in the ANWR in order to satisfy environmental activists. Industrial unions (as contrasted with government employee and teacher unions) are on the other side, just as vehemently. Tough spot, Sen. Daschle.
Education politics has the Democrats fighting against vouchers and school choice in order to satisfy the Teacher unions and anti-religion fanatics. They are inexplicably joined by the leadership of the "civil rights" organizations. However, the affected parents they claim to be protecting want the vouchers, want the choice and want their children to have a chance at success. Sticky one, Rep. Gephart.
The Democrat position on abortion, gun rights, and affirmative action also places them on the fringe not only of the average voter, but also of their supposed base of blue collar citizens.
If letting liberal Democrats be crushed by the weight of their own inconsistencies is good politics, so is letting liberal Republicans fall to the sharp axe of primary voters.