GOP Arrogance Of Power Creates Openings For Democrats
How toxic was it for the White House and Tom DeLay to use the Terri Schiavo tragedy as a tool to fire up the far right base into an attack on largely GOP judges? Pretty toxic, as evidenced by a piece in today’s Post and the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll out today. But it’s not just the Terri Schiavo manipulation that is worrying the GOP base; it’s also the "nuclear option" of eliminating the filibuster to ram through Bush’s judges, Bush's privatization of Social Security, and even the first-term tax cuts that are starting to cause heartburn for Bush’s own party.
After winning re-election on the strength of support from nine in 10 Republican voters, the president is seeing significant chunks of that base balk at major initiatives, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows. One-third of Republicans say Democrats in Congress should prevent Mr. Bush and party leaders from "going too far in pushing their agenda," and 41% oppose eliminating filibusters against Mr. Bush's judicial nominees -- the "nuclear option" that Senate Republican leaders are considering.
Though Mr. Bush and Republican congressional leaders acted to maximize the opportunity for reinserting Ms. Schiavo's feeding tube, 39% of Republicans said removing the tube was "the right thing to do," while 48% said it was wrong. About 18% of Republicans say they lost respect for Mr. Bush on the issue and 41% lost respect for Congress.
Nearly two-thirds of Republicans say Congress shouldn't pass legislation affecting families in cases such as Ms. Schiavo's, though some Republicans on Capitol Hill aim to do just that. By 50%-37%, Republicans say the federal government should be "less active" on social and moral issues; on gay marriage Republicans split evenly, with 48% saying Congress should pass legislation and 47% saying it shouldn't.
On his centerpiece initiative of Social Security, for instance, 32% of Republicans call it "a bad idea" to let workers invest payroll taxes in the stock markets.
Even on tax cuts, Mr. Bush's signature first-term economic initiative, one in four Republicans now says tax cuts have "not been worth it" because they have increased the federal budget deficit and have led to reductions in government programs.
Bush’s job approval rating in this poll is down to 48%, and his overall approval amongst Republicans is still high. But on individual issues, Bush and the GOP Congress are taking positions that cause slippage in the base and offer the Democrats opportunities to pick off blocks of support for next year’s midterms.