DEMOCRATS TAKE THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE, BUSH SHOCKED, BUT IMPRESSED
President George W. Bush actually seemed impressed with the spectacular victory by Democrats in the American mid-term elections yesterday. He called it a "thumping" victory, to the great surprise of not only the White House media, but his own staff and advisors.
Bush was impressed because he truly loves politics and electioneering strategies, despite his "Washington Sux" image and talk. And he was most surely surprised ("Shows you what I know") because his master strategist Karl Rove spent the weekend talking up the 'fact' that the Republicans would keep control of all the power come election day. Rove figured the Democrats would be left a few crumbs.
It was an astoundingly bad call by Rove, and his reputation as a kingmaker has been shattered by the electoral scouring.
Selling 'The Fear' just didn't work this time. Karl Rove's bag of magic tricks was shown to be empty, if it wasn't ever actually full in the first place.
President Bush has been mostly positive in the past 48 hours about the last 800 days of his presidency. He claims he will work with the Democrats to "fix America" and "Keep America Safe" before he packs up his desk, clamps on his cowboy hat and swaggers back down to Crawford.
But there's a lot of days of fighting, negotiating, arguing and compromising ahead. In short, for Bush the party is over.
This London Times editorial takes a prescient look at what Bush is about to endure as he enters the twlight (zone) of his presidency :
George W. Bush now finds himself in precisely the same political place as Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton before him.
Each of these three men suffered a midterm election defeat that involved at least one chamber of Congress being captured by the opposition party.
Yet all of them ended their time in office as figures having recovered from their nadir at the ballot box.
They did so by shrewdly exploiting the ceremonial aspects of their post, wielding the veto whenever necessary on domestic issues and focusing on foreign policy. This President, as he appeared to be conceding in his remarks yesterday, has little option but to do the same.
It will, however, be a more complicated exercise for Mr Bush than his predecessors. While it would be an exaggeration to assert that frustration at events in Iraq is the exclusive explanation for the Democratic victory, it obviously underpinned this ballot.
The recent conduct of the conflict has eroded what should be bipartisan backing for US troops in action overseas. If Mr Bush is to recover his position he has to be able to offer more than the slogan “staying the course”.
Mr Bush should now listen sympathetically to the many recommendations that he will shortly receive from a bipartisan commission led by James Baker, the Secretary of State under his father, along with Lee Hamilton, an experienced and thoughtful Democrat specialist in international affairs.
This would allow him to adapt his position to today’s Iraq where the prospect of an endemic bloody struggle between Iraqis poses a greater threat than so-called insurgents. In all his considerations, Mr Bush should aspire to bind Nancy Pelosi, the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, into his decisions.
He cannot afford Iraq to be perceived as a “Republican war”.
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