Thursday :: Mar 23, 2006

In Order To Keep The South Happy, One Conservative Wants Bush To Ignore Iraq


by Steve

Although I don’t normally read TownHall.com, thanks to Raw Story, I was alerted to this piece by Matt Towery, a former GOP legislator and associate of Newt Gingrich. In this piece, Mr. Towery says that internal GOP polling, which is nearly complete, shows that Bush’s troubles with his base are endangering the GOP’s hold on Florida and Georgia.

InsiderAdvantage/Majority Opinion Research is now conducting an ambitious public-opinion survey of the entire South. The region is crucial to Republican hopes of holding on to their congressional majority and to many governorships.
The final, comprehensive results of the poll weren't yet complete when this column was filed. Over 4,000 interviews have been conducted, however -- enough to render persuasively alarming news for the GOP.
For example, in the populous states of Florida and Georgia, more respondents want the Democrats to control Congress next year than they do the Republicans.
President George W. Bush won both states in 2004, and yet he now has higher disapproval ratings than approval ratings. In Georgia, his disapproval rate approaches 50 percent. In Florida, it's 55 percent.
It gets worse for Republicans. Initial polling results seem to show that the disapproval of Washington Republicans is starting to translate into possible votes against GOP candidates this fall in statewide races back home. Most of these are races in which Republicans would expect to hold obvious upper hands.
Not surprisingly given the overall polling results, there is also an emerging trend of erosion of support for President Bush and the GOP Congress by core conservative voters, as well as by independent voters. In the Republicans' strongest region in the nation, it's these independents who usually give the conservative party its victory margins.

Now Mr. Towery, given his background, knows more about GOP politics and the particular politics of these states than I ever would. But what does he prescribe for Bush in order to reverse this slide and allow the GOP to maintain control of the Deep South?

Ignore Iraq from now on, and start talking instead about a “captivating set of policy initiatives to curb the power and scope of government.”

That’s right, Towery thinks that Bush should simply ignore the elephant in the room from now on, and stop talking about Iraq and start offering up initiatives in this post-9/11 environment that would show conservatives that Bush is serious about smaller and more limited government. I can only conclude that Towery has been away a large part of the last five years, and missed the entire NSA spying, Patriot Act, No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, Terri Schiavo, court-bashing, and other federal expansions that this group of alleged conservatives in the government have pursued.

What’s on display here is a fundamental chasm between the conservatives like Gingrich and Towery, who may still truly believe in limited government, and the Bush/Cheney wing of the GOP, which believes in the accumulation of executive branch power and private gain over public interest.

But does Towery really think that this group of “Mayberry Machiavellis” who have no interest in real policy work, and who have introduced and abandoned initiatives annually in the State of the Union messages are really willing and capable of suddenly becoming interested in reversing their last five years of history just to please true conservatives in the southern base? And does he really think that George W. Bush is personally capable of resisting constant questions about how he has failed at his signature foreign policy initiative?

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