the absence of a "reelection target" and pressure from first lady Laura Bush and others to soften his second-term tone conspired to temper Bush's swagger
...sure sounds like an accusation that Laura has emasculated Bush.
Hell, the press is making Bush out to be a cartoon character who needs to go to a military base to regain his image, while top Republicans are openly blaming Laura Bush for neutering her husband.
It must be fun around the house now, with a top Republican saying openly that Laura's got Bush's balls in her pocket. If Skippy wasn't drinking before, he is now.
The thing is, this sounds like more than a throwaway comment. After all, it's a pretty damning statement, especially coming from an operative of a Republican Party that has invested so much time and money into cultivating the image of Bush as a manly man. My guess is it marks the opening of a real split within Republican strategy.
At first, I thought this person was surely Cheney or Rummy, since they're so fond of waggling their manhood in front of journalists. But then I saw the cryptic way the WaPo article refers to this guy (perhaps not surprisingly he is marked as a guy by the use of the pronoun "he"): "top Republican close to the White House since the earliest days," "GOP operative," "this official" and realized neither Dick or Rummy would qualify. I take the WaPo's description to mean this guy:
- Is not in the White House (since they don't label him as a WH official and instead say he's close to the White House)
- Has some kind of official position (because they label him an official)
- Is a stalwart Republican
- Is either a member of the Texas mafia or the guys who funded Bush from the start
Now, I'd welcome some corrections to that last bullet, because I don't think it includes all the possibilities. But taking those as the possibilities, I think Mr. Manly Republican might be:
- Newt (mostly because he'd fit the senior Republican close to at least Cheney's part of the WH and because he seems to be saying some pretty critical things of late)
- Norquist (not in the White House, undoubtedly powerful and associated with the Party, someone who has bankrolled Bush for some time)
- DeLay (not in the White House, an official if you call Majority Leader an official, and a member of the Texas mafia)
Again, this list is not comprehensive. The WaPo seems to have gone to great lengths to describe this anonymous official, and I'm sure with your help we might be able to narrow it down.
But when I read this article about Republican angst over spending issues, I think my guess that it's Norquist might be close. We're in the process of seeing those who consider themselves true conservatives balk loudly at BushCo calls to rebuild the Gulf Coast. And since Tom DeLay's Texan Republican Majority (TM) relies on two of the districts that, post-Rita, will benefit from Bush's munificence, the Republican leadership is going to solidly back the big spending. Well hell, they would anyway, given that they're basically in it for the pork; but Rita has added new incentives. Tom DeLay has even started channeling Republican bete noir John Maynard Keynes when he asserts,
The bill creates hundreds of thousands of jobs. It's an economic engine.
So unless China or Saudi Arabia decides to just give us $200 billion to fund our new expenditures, we're going to see ongoing contention between the conservatives and the Republicans (and, perhaps finally, we'll have a public recognition that they have not been the same thing for several years).
I'm just guessing, of course, that it was a leading "conservative" as opposed to a Republican who insinuated that Laura is emasculating Bush. But we may see this split increasingly expressed in gendered terms. Big spending? Weakness. Femininity. Nurturing. Bad Bad Bad. Laura transformed from a Stepford wife into Jane Fonda overnight...
And what would be a more ironic outcome than to have the Daddy-Party Republicans taken down by the inner "effeminateness" of their own big spending?
One more thing. I'm curious about who's out after Laura because, in almost all plausible cases, there would be more to the story. Is it Grover? Cheney? DeLay? In all three cases, there's a good chance there'd be an underlying cause or two adding to the divisiveness. That is, it's not just fiscal issues ripping the Republicans apart. It's also the awareness that all its top leaders are facing some unpleasant legal issues right now. And as I have repeatedly suggested, it seems like their attempts to form a unified front to combat those legal issues have failed.
No matter who made that misogynistic comment about Laura, I think one thing is clear. Their unity is beginning to crumble. I just hope they don't ruin the country as they go about crumbling.