Over the past six years, President George W. Bush and his team of advisers have proved extremely effective at one thing, winning elections. Unfortunately, the President's administration has proved astoundingly inept at almost everything else.
The newest revelation in an seemingly unending stream of missteps, mistakes, and miscalculations are the video and transcripts of pre-Katrina meetings that purport to show that both President Bush and Homeland Security Chief Chertoff were both fully aprised of the potential for disaster along the Gulf Coast and yet asserted that we were "fully prepared." Reading this account is simply devastating. It shows what appears to be a complete disconnect between Bush and the people on the ground preparing for the storm, including FEMA head Michael Brown.
This comes right on the heels of the UAE port deal that has sunk the President's approval ratings into the 30s. No matter how justifiable this deal might be as a business proposition, the simple fact is that the average American will only understand it as Muslims controlling US ports. Whether that is right or not, that is the simple fact and the President and his advisors must understand that. The ports deal directly undermines the greatest strength of Bush's presidency which has been that he makes Americans feel more safe and secure. It doesn't help that he claimed not to know about it until it was reported in the media.
This is not to mention the recent shooting accident involving the Vice President that has his approval ratings hovering down in the teens. What is most frustrating about that situation was Cheney's either unwillingness or inability to be straighforward about what had happened. The recent CBS poll showed that 76% of Americans viewed the hunting accident as perfectly understandable. What bithered folks was the fact that it took so long to find out about it and for the Vice President himself to come out and say anything. It is simply another example of the White House dropping the ball.
I could literally go on all night, but I think we all know things are pretty bad right now. Conservatives are mad at Bush for ruining the GOP's credibility on fiscal responsibility and limited government. Liberals are furious over the war, Katrina, the Supreme Court and a host of other issues. The general public views the President as secretive and out of touch. Their perception of Congress is even worse. Basically this Administration is having trouble finding a friend right now, and for good reason.
Let me be clear, I think it would be a huge mistake to turn Congress over to the Democrats this fall. The result would be a hugely politicized attempt to impeach the President combined with enormous pressure to adopt a "cut and run" approach in Iraq. I still believe that we are in better hands with a Republican Congress. However, that's really a relative comparison at this point. Like the Republicans in Virginia's legislature, the Republicans in Washington are apparently unwilling to sacrifice electoral security for something as trivial as principles.
Obviously, I do not intend to indict EVERY member of the GOP or even the Bush Administration. There are a lot of good folks out there working hard to advance conservative principles and the Republican Party in common sense ways that resonate with the American people. In fact, just yesterday the Washington Times had this article indicating an increase in tension between the White House and some conservative legislators. Unfortunately, while I hold out hope that it won't happen, it may well be that losing control of Congress is the only thing capable of shaking the Republican Party out of its malaise and forcing us to refocus our efforts on the things that got us to power in the first place.
I just hope it doesn't have to come to that.