Friday, August 25, 2006

Unbridled Incompetence

The Republican Party, with Karl Rove as its chief strategist, has been undeniably good at one thing -- winning elections. At the same time the Bush administration, bolstered by a GOP majority in both houses of Congress, has been remarkably bad at another thing -- governing.

Consequently, the Democrats have been handed an issue in this midterm election year that is as legit as it gets -- the people running the government don’t know what they’re doing.

Unlike so many elections of the last 50 years, this issue has little to do with ideology. Unlike many elections of the last 25 years, this issue is not really part of the cultural battle to limit access to abortion, or to restore old time religion -- meaning Christianity -- to its once dominant position in public life. The issue the Bush White House and its great facilitator -- the Republican controlled U.S. Congress -- has handed to the Democrats is “incompetence.”

The Bush administration’s only notable successes have been to use 9/11 fear to accumulate more power, and to funnel billions of tax dollars from the middle class to its corporate friends. The list of sweetheart deals is way too long for this space, but a glance at its two most visible failures -- its launching and management of the war in Iraq, and its reaction to the Hurricane Katrina disaster -- underlines the funneling point.

While Iraq spins more out of control, toward an all-out civil war, every day, Halliburton is doing fine. While much of the effort to rebuild New Orleans remains stuck in the mud, Bechtel is doing fine.

It says here that the Democrats don’t need to come up with their own plan to get out of Iraq, and then all agree to it, unanimously. That’s what Karl Rove and a bunch of nervous Republicans would like them to believe, because it changes the subject.

The Democrats need only to press Republican candidates all over the country on one point -- if you stand with the glaring ineptitude of the Bush White House during the campaign, you will fall on election day.

That is the tool that Jim Webb can use to pound the aw-shucks out of the incumbent, George Allen, in his effort to unseat the senator who has stood behind Bush’s agenda 97 percent of the time. Since Allen’s momentum has been in reverse gear for the two weeks following his Macaca Gaffe, it's going to be easier now to portray Allen as a dim bulb who can't think for himself.

Furthermore, Webb and the rest of the Democratic candidates this year need to promise that once they get in office they will immediately move to identify and punish the worst rascals in and around the Bush administration.

What the Republican lobbyists and bureaucrats, who have been robbing us blind fear the most in 2006, is that the GOP will lose control of Congress. They tremble at the thought of their mountains of malfeasance being investigated by reform-minded committees chaired by Democrats in 2007.

The Bush administration wouldn’t listen to it own generals, active and retired -- plus other military experts, such as Jim Webb -- who tried to counsel against the invasion of Iraq. The Bush administration appointed loyal cronies to run important government agencies, such as FEMA, rather than experienced experts. The results of that particular blunder remain obvious on the Gulf Coast.

As long as the Republicans control Congress, it’s also obvious there will be no reining in the Bush White House. Its unbridled incompetence is the Democrats’ winning issue in 2006.


Eoghann said...

But you don't win elections by simply saying, "they're bad, and we're not them."

Put forth an actual vision and communicate it well.

The finger pointing got old a long time ago.

F.T. Rea said...


Elections have surely turned on angry rejections of the establishment many a time. If you don't know that it's not for me to educate you.

The Republican Party today has no soul, let alone a vision. Vision? Maybe you should have yours checked.

Tim said...

While I do love the sentiment behind your thinking, it’s a guaranteed way to tank an election. We read about how badly the Bush Administration (and Congress) is handling practically every issue across the board. Yet they continue to support GOP candidates. Why? Because, as Eoghann correctly pointed out, those are the only candidates who voice a clear plan of action when they step up to the microphone.

Their plan of action is seldom a good one, but that obviously doesn’t matter to the majority of voters. What matters is that the candidate has an agenda for doing something (anything). With the “War on Terror,” the voter saw a vision, even though it was utterly misguided and mired in corruption.

That’s what we (the Dems) need to do. Standing up and pointing out the ineptness of the GOP plays to the voters as partisan, whiney, and bureaucratic. And the GOP has been winning because of this strategy.

You win first, and then you go after GOP corruption. That corruption is what builds the midterms two years after the shift in power. It doesn’t win you the election in the first place.

As I said in my entry yesterday, Webb is doing a fairly good job of following your advice right now. His recent Internet ad does exactly what you’re recommending in fact. So if you want proof of how poorly this strategy is going to work, just watch the election results.

F.T. Rea said...


Thanks for commenting.

To follow my advice the Democrats would not fall for the trap of having to issue a firm timetable for pulling out of Iraq. That, in my view, would be a mistake. Instead, they would call for a new Secretary of Defense, one who will listen to expert advice rather than blow it off because it doesn’t suit his neoconservative political aims. Rumsfeld has been an incompetent planner of a war strategy.

Furthermore, the Democrats should also call for an end to Bush’s incompetent go-it-alone style of diplomacy, which would mean seeking the help of other nations -- friends and foes, alike -- to help us fully disengage from Iraq. To do that we need a competent State Department.

The Democrats cannot spell out a vision -- an alternative program -- in a mid-term election, because they don’t have a presidential candidate. It would be artificial for all Democratic candidates to agree on how to get out of Iraq. But they can agree that Rumsfeld has been an abysmal failure.