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The Asylum

Welcome to the Asylum. This is a site devoted to politics and current events in America, and around the globe. The THREE lunatics posting here are unabashed conservatives that go after the liberal lies and deceit prevalent in the debate of the day. We'd like to add that the views expressed here do not reflect the views of other inmates, nor were any inmates harmed in the creation of this site.

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

I Said There Was No Cause For Celebration

It seems that no one on the Left is paying attention. As the president's numbers sit at an all-time low, and Karl Rove has resigned his position as a policy director for the White House, the Left--politicos, media, and moonbats--are dancing the night away with glee that they may have finally ended the Bush-Rove Era. Just a day after the WaPo announced the resignation of Both McClellan and Rove (Rove stepping down from his policy position), they jump all over the White House, proclaiming the moves to be some sort of "survival mode."

In a White House known for both defiance and optimism, yesterday's senior staff changes represent a frank acknowledgment of the trouble in which President Bush now finds himself. They are also a signal of how starkly Bush's second-term ambitions have shifted after a year of persistent problems at home and abroad.

Trouble? What trouble would that be? The fact that the White House press corps has turned so hostile that having Scott McClellan conduct press briefings is like throwing Christians to the lions? Or the fact that with the mid-term elections just around the corner, Karl Rove has got to step in and help the GOP maintain their majority? If that is considered "trouble," then I will take that anyday when I would make such moves as these. Rove has not left the White House. He is still a key advisor to the president, and is not going anywhere. McClellan is likely heading home to help his mother with her bid to become Texas' next governor. So, I fail to see the "trouble" that signals these two peoples departures at this time.

Longtime Bush confidant Karl Rove -- who had hoped to use his position of deputy chief of staff to usher in an expansive conservative agenda -- was relieved of his policy portfolio to concentrate on long-term strategy and planning for a November midterm election that looks increasingly bleak for Republicans.

And it should look bleak for the Republicans. We have been noting this for some time that a change is necessary within the GOP to stave off losing their majority. This is not simply a case of we must win, but rather that we must show America that we are better at doing things than the Democrats, therefore we must win. But the GOP has done a fair job of blowing off it's own toes. In the Senate, Senator Frist allowed the Gang of 14 deal to go forward, stood idly by as ANWaR was ripped from the defense appropriations bill (which is a matter of national security), and allowed the majority party in the Senate to be pushed around like it was the minority party, by the minority party! In the House, the Abramoff scandal, and the resignation of Tom DeLay has left the House GOP reeling. The good news is that with the election of John Boehner as the new House Majority leader came new rules regarding lobbyists, earmarks, and other little pet privileges that served as a problem for House members. And I believe it is Representative David Dreier who is pushing a new agenda that would ban--a lifetime ban--on congressional members becoming lobbyists after their tenure in office.

Rove probably will remain one of the most influential voices in the White House, but his shift in responsibilities suggests that new White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten intends to operate a different White House than his predecessor, Andrew H. Card Jr., who resigned after more than five years at the helm.

The inclusion of Josh Bolten as the new chief-of-staff sends a couple of signals through the White House. First off, it sends a message that this president is not giving in to his critics. Bolten is as much a fighter as the president is, and with two years to go in his administration, President Bush needs all the allies he can muster. Second, for those not towing their fair share of work in the White House, Bolten will not have any reservations about ridding the "people's house" of the dead weight.

Bolten's White House, say former administration officials and Republican strategists, is likely to have clearer lines of authority and less free-lancing by powerful officials. They also expect Bolten to play a more active and influential role in shaping domestic policy than did Card.

More significantly, they said, unlike Card, who took as his principal responsibility the management of the president, Bolten probably will operate more in the mold of chiefs of staffs in previous administrations, who saw their role as managing the entire White House and sought to oversee the entire federal government, as well.

It is called "coordination." A White House chief of staff coordinates the White House's policy. The president sets the agenda, and the Chief of staff delegates people to see that that agenda is met. He is not overseeing the "entire federal government."

Whether the changes will fundamentally alter a troubled administration is another question. One of Bolten's biggest challenges, administration allies say, will be to find ways to open up the Oval Office to new ideas and to the opinions of people who are not longtime Bush confidants.

How about making sure that the people's voice is heard? A longtime gripe amongst many conservatives that we have spoken to is that the president lacks two key points when it comes to his position. First, he does not get out in front of critics and show the nation his critics are wrong. Second, he does not seem to see the frustration that his base--the core conservative base--when it comes to issues like immigration and fiscal responsibility. These should be focal points for Bolten to address, and for the administration to listen to.

On that score, many people who know the administration best are privately dubious. Presidents, more than chiefs of staff, determine how White Houses operate, they said, noting that Bush has shown that he prefers a tight circle of advisers and does not welcome the advice of outsiders. As Bush put it on Monday, in asserting that he would not fire Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, "I'm the decider, and I decide what's best."

This is no different than any other administration, except possibly the Clinton administration, who governed through the use of polls more than anything. Past presidents have always had a set of close advisors when it comes to policy. Those advisors tell the president what they see, and based on that, the president makes decisions. As for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, why is it that people are calling for his head, again? He has turned the military into a fighting force for the new millenium. We knew that with the fall of the Soviet Union, and the doors opening wider to China, that it appeared less and less likely that we would be engaged in a war similar to those from the 20th Century. We are looking at conflicts that need less troops on the ground, but a more mobile and specialized military. This is, in effect, the facelift that Rumsfeld has given the military. And it is one that has been a longtime coming. We are facing less and less "standing armies" and more guerilla-like fighters. The military must adapt.

Rove's return to a role that closely mirrors that which he played in Bush's first term demonstrates how much this White House has now shifted to survival mode -- and how far events have pushed the president from the grand ambitions with which he opened his second term just 15 months ago.

Um, those ambitions are still there. He is still making speeches regarding Social Security reform and tort reform. He is still talking about the progress in Iraq even when the MSM refuses to touch on it. The ambition is still there. What the president lacks is a party that listens to him, especially in the Senate where he faces opposition from RINOs there that prefer to go their own way instead of pushing the president's agenda forward. Among them is Lincoln Chafee, who never seems to be on the right side of anything as far as the GOP is concerned. That is why Senator Chafee needs to go in the mid-terms without fail. Any other "moderates" that cannot seem to stay on message should also be going; replaced by a more solid conservative who can stay on task.

Then, with Rove as the animating force, the president sought to engineer Republican political dominance by remaking government with such far-reaching initiatives as his plan to remake the Social Security program. Today, Social Security stands as Exhibit A of what went wrong domestically in 2005.

And I notice the WaPo does not fully address why it "went wrong." Of course not because in doing so they would have to admit that much of the problems with that idea lie around Democrat obstructionism; their failure to recognize that Social Security is broken, and at this stage, it is a myth for the generations to follow. It needed to be fixed. It still needs to be fixed. But the Democrats obstruct the administration at every turn, and pull out weak arguments against it. The moment the subject is broached, they are the first ones to stand up and shriek that the president is "rolling back history." He is not rolling back anything. The only way he would roll it back it to remove it. He is talking about reforming it by allowing people to invest their money into something that will net them retirement savings rather than watching it disappear down the johnny-flusher known as Congress.

Public disillusionment over Bush's policies in Iraq have left the country in a sour mood and Bush's presidency at low ebb, threatening the entire Bush-Rove project to create a durable Republican majority. While that goal remains central to those closest to Bush, the focus at the White House for the foreseeable future will be trying to revitalize this presidency quickly enough to avoid crippling GOP losses in November that could thrust Bush into instant lame-duck status.

The Republican majority that President Bush and Karl Rove desire will only move forward with a lot of help from the base. The problem is that the base itself is disillusioned. Not by Iraq per se, but by the dithering and dawdling that the GOP has put forth in place of solid leadership. Indeed, November could, as I stated yesterday, be as much a Waterloo moment for the GOP as it was for the Democrats in 1994 with the Gingrich revolution. This is unacceptable. But it is to be expected with the lack of leadership from the majority party.

Realigning the White House staff and bringing in new faces appear central to that effort. This week's changes include yesterday's resignation of White House press secretary Scott McClellan and appointment of Joel D. Kaplan as White House deputy chief of staff for policy, as well as Monday's announcement that U.S. trade representative and former House member Rob Portman will succeed Bolten as director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

The domestic policy process has been hampered since Bolten went to OMB, and one Republican strategist close to the White House said the new chief of staff appears bent on trying to prevent Rove and others from interfering in every aspect of the governing process.

And it is here that I have a problem. As yet, Mr. Bolten has said nothing that could allude to such an idea, and this sounds more like speculation on the part of the WaPo than it is political fact. Rove has been key to the president's victories six straight times, as Hugh Hewitt points out today. Stating that Rove will be prevented from offering advice tot he president would be like stating that Winston Churchill was banned from making decisions for Great Britain during World War II. Rove has been a dominant force for the Democrats and the president's detractors, and I doubt even Josh Bolten could keep him away from the president.

But that is not what the issue is. The issue is the GOP in 2006, and it is not looking good right now. The indifferent and disenchanted base is not happy with their party. And rightly so, if we are to look at the problems that have plagued the GOP:

--The Abramoff scandal.

--The resignation of Tom DeLay.

--The Gang of 14 deal.

--The "whipped dog" approach of the party when it came to dealing with Democrat obstructionism.

--The failure of the party to push the president's message on Iraq.

--The failure to work on and pass comprehensive Social Security reform.

--The continuing failure of making the tax cuts permanent.

--The half-assed attempts to deal with the immigration issue.

--The inability to pass John Bolton as UN ambassador resulting in a presidential recess appointment.

--The Harriet Miers debacle.

And the list goes on. And I am sure there are people who would disagree with a lot of what I have said, including that list above, but I am only an amateur here. I deal with the tangible. I touch on what I see. And what I see is a party that has a lot to prove to its base this year. It has to prove that it is worthy of maintaining the majority. It cannot do that if the party continues to act the way it is. The base--those that do feel disenfrancised by their party--are seriously considering staying home on Election Day content with the belief that the Republicans will reap what they have sown.

They have sown the seeds of disillusionment within the base. The party's base is so sick of the status quo and lip service that is handed to them that they just feel that it would do them no good to go out and vote. I disagree. This year, the base must keep their loyalties, and believe it or not, they need to fight harder than they ever have before. And it starts right now.

While those like Hugh Hewitt would prefer to keep some moderates around, we are of the mind that if a solid conservative challenges someone like Olympia Snowe or Mike DeWine in the primaries, then that conservative should be supported. If they fail to remove the aforementioned senators in the primary, then we support DeWine and Snowe. Conrad Burns from Montana is also facing an uphill climb, but like DeWine and Snowe, Burns tends to be on the right side of an issue more often than not. As a matter of fact, out of the sixteen seats up for reelection this year the only one we are avidly not supporting, and indeed would support the Democrat on would be Lincoln Chafee's seat.

While Chafee is a Republican, he is the poster-child for RINOs, and like Jim Jeffords (who is retiring this year) often sides with the Democrats. He voted against the 2002 authorization to invade Iraq. In 2004, he cast a write-in vote for former president George H.W. Bush as a protest vote. in 2005, he threw his lot in with John McCain with the Gang of 14 deal. And he was the only Republican to vote against Samuel Alito's confirmation as the newest US Supreme Court justice. All in all, when the chips are down, and the votes matter the most, Lincoln Chafee is nowhere to be found for the GOP. He goes. End of story.

The "shake-up" at the White House, as the MSM loves to call it, is irrelevant. This happens often within a two-term presidency. What matters most, and what the MSM fails to address is that the GOP is fighting an uphill battle. It is not as horrific as the battle the Democrats will have to wage. The only thing the Republicans must do is energize their base so they will not stay home on Election Day. If they do, the Democrats might just be swept into power which would be disastrous for the last two years of President Bush's second term.

And that, friends, is a prospect I would rather not imagine.

The Bunny ;)


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