Republicans Bailing Out As Tide Of Disappointment, Dissent Grows Into A Tsunami
"Just one more Veto on ice, please..."
President Bush has admitted he uses his veto power in an effort to make sure he remains
relevant, and to let Congress know who's boss of the United States.
Naturally he blames Congress for taking too long to get through important legislation, and accuses them of holding back the future of the nation. He wants more legislation rushed through so he can exercise his veto more often, therefore staying more relevant.
It makes sense, in a Bushian kind of way :
President Bush declared yesterday that he remains "relevant" despite his political troubles, and he derided Democrats for running a do-nothing Congress that has failed to address critical domestic, economic and security issues in the nine months since they took control of Capitol Hill.
Trying to turn the tables on his adversaries, Bush lashed out at lawmakers for stalling housing and education initiatives, trade agreements, and judicial nominations, and for not having passed any of 12 annual spending bills more than two weeks into the new fiscal year. "Congress has little to show for all the time that has gone by," he said during a White House news conference.
Bush's assault on Democratic leaders during the 47-minute session reflected a broader attempt by the White House to go on the offensive at a time when polls show that the public has soured on Congress just as it has on the president. Stuck with the lowest approval ratings of his presidency with just 15 months left in office, Bush presented himself as still in command of the Washington agenda and rejected the suggestion that he has grown "increasingly irrelevant," as a reporter put it in a question.
"Quite the contrary," he said. "I've never felt more engaged and more capable of helping people recognize . . . that there's a lot of unfinished business." Defending his rejection of a popular children's health program expansion, Bush said his veto power gives him leverage. "That's one way to ensure that I am relevant," he said. "That's one way to ensure that I am in the process. And I intend to use the veto."
Naturally, Bush's comments sent some Democrats absolutely nuts. Which was probably the intention. We all know Bush likes a good laugh :
His reprimand of Congress drew a scathing response from Democrats. "I appreciate that the man who has managed Iraq so well is going to give us a lecture about management," said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.). "The man who gave us Katrina is going to tell us how to manage?"
Everything is A O.K. President Bush is in control. Cease your worrying.
What seems unclear is whether Bush wants compromise or confrontation. Aides have talked enthusiastically about vetoing spending bills to reestablish his credentials as a fiscal conservative with a party base alienated by the growth in government on his watch. Senior Senate Republicans have complained that the White House showed no genuine interest in finding accord on the children's health-care bill that he vetoed.
While Bush and the Democrats fight it out in public, the Republican rank and file have grown increasingly demoralized. Eighteen Republicans in the Senate and 45 in the House abandoned the White House on the children's health bill, and lawmakers expect even more to vote to override his promised veto of a water projects bill as soon as next week.
As Republicans lament life in the minority, many are giving up. Nearly a dozen Republicans in the House and five in the Senate have announced their intention to retire next year. Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said that the party should hold many of those seats, but that some will be tough, such as that of Rep. Deborah Pryce (Ohio). "If Deborah would change her mind, I'd be the happiest guy in the world," he said.
But White House officials contend that their political fortunes have begun to improve. While Bush's poll numbers remain stagnant, aides note that he has successfully fought off congressional efforts to pull U.S. forces out of Iraq and has pushed Congress into passing temporary legislation authorizing his controversial surveillance program aimed at terrorists. The deficit has come down and North Korea is moving to dismantle its nuclear program, they note, and the president has advanced plans to deal with everything from subprime mortgages to airline delays.