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December 29, 2005


The Bush presidency is like an army in a slow, grinding defeat. They occassionally mount a counter-offensive, and regularly stabilize their lines. But over time, they're losing territory and in a slow retreat. It used to be that Bush would stabilize in the mid-50's. Then he'd stabilize around 50. Now he stabilizes at 43.

I'm not sure he's going to lose a lot more, at least not in the next 6-9 months. He will if the Abramoff scandal breaks wide open, or if Fitzgerald drives deep into the White House or (slightly less likely) Iraq breaks out into full-fledged civil war. But if we continue on as its been in the last 6 weeks or so, he'll probably stay around 40-45. But I don't seem him ever getting back to 50. Those days are gone, never to return.

Out here off the West Coast there is a line of storms stretching all the way to Hawaii. Today is sunny, but by sometime tonight it will be raining again.

I think that the absolute bottom line is the approximately 25% of the population who still think Hussein worked with al Qaeda to plan 9/11. These people will follow the President off a cliff. Are following the President off a cliff.

Thanks for cheering me up! There are so many things brewing right now that are likely to chip away at Bush's approval rating - Iraq, Abramoff, Enron, NSA Spying, Plamegate, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera - that 2006 has very little chance of being any better for Bush than 2005 was!

why will abramoff be a bigger scandal than domestic wiretapping?

These numbers reflect the fact that most people don't want to think about politics, the nincompoops in office, any of it. The hard core of people who are willing to deal with any of it have made up their minds -- the other folks prefer distraction and will hang on to it as long as nothing they percieve as horrible disaster is happening.

I think rising gas prices would be more likely to get their attention than Abramoff.

The question for the rest of us, always, is how to give politics meaning to for the folks who hope it will just leave them alone -- without appealing to their resentments as Limbaugh and Coulter do.

"why will abramoff be a bigger scandal than domestic wiretapping?"

NSA/wiretappng, bad as it is, is just Bush/Cheney. Abramoff is virtually every Republican in DC and will change the way business is done.

Abramoff v. wiretapping.

It depends.

Already a number of paleocons are objecting to the NSA wiretapping. So it's hard for the moral outrage crowd to suggest it is a partisan attack on their beloved Bush.

The Abramoff thing IS huge. But can you boil it down to a simple narrative? Until that happens (and the Scanlon memo describing what the GOP really thinks of its fundie base), I don't think it will go that far.

Demfromct: I thought that's why. I can see it that way -- and I hope you're right about it changing how business is done. Unfortunately until the criminal charges come it will be seen, exactly, as "the way business is done" whereas the wiretapping has the potential to put a dent in Bush's remaining support.

In any case, as long as the Dems stay out of trouble (beware the urge for "balanced" coverage) it looks to be a bad start to 2006 for the GOP.

on that topic: ACLU has nice full-page ad in front section of the NYTimes this morning directly & compellingly comparing Bush's lying about domestic spying to Nixon's lying about Watergate hotel spying. For those who only read the newspaper online & miss the ads, the full page ad is here.

(While looking for it online, I also found out about this funny bit of advertising by ACLU, here.)

The reason that Abramoff is worse for the GOP than spying is that much of the public will view the Abramoff scandal as self-enrichment, and see the spying as Bush (albeit clumsily) protecting us.

The Delay lifestyle, the luxury-box-at-sporting-events fundraisers, the golf vacations, padding the family income through sweetheart deals involving the wife's consulting business--all that is the kind of corruption the public hates. The Dems can spin it as part of a "Republicans take care of their high rollers not the ordinary folk" narrative.

The spying in most ways is more serious, but I'm afraid too many people will see it as having a benign motive. Enough will see it as bad for it to get traction, but for much of the public it will be less serious. I do think Abramoff, in conjunction with the Enron trials, will highlight just how little the GOP cares about ordinary people and how much they are about enriching themselves and their friends.


Good point. Although perhaps the NSA program will piss off an entirely different set of people than the Abramoff crimes? Meanwhile, we better get a good narrative describing Abramoff's crimes so those who hate graft can understand them.

Mimikatz gets it right. A couple additional points to add to her comment. On the motives issue, the NSA story can have an "on the other hand" aspect, but corruption of the Abramoff variety can't. Also, the Abramoff story has a People Magazine/Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous aspect, but in the NSA story there aren't any obvious cartoon-like villians. And the Abramoff story is clearly, despite the GOP attempts to spread the blame, entirely about the GOP. It goes against the entire rationale that most people use for putting Republicans in charge of government: that they'll be good stewards and not blow away the public treasury on governmental excess. Finally, the Abramoff scandal has significant potential to drive a huge wedge between Republicans; it will hurt the party, but it will be a godsend to John McCain and the NE moderates.

Oh, another thing: it will get into local news reporting in ways the NSA story won't. It's already hit local news in Ohio (Ney) and Montana (Burns), and will probably hit local news in plenty of other places as well. The NSA story may remain a DC-based story and not get a local angle.

Um, DH

Bush is not a cartoon-like villain? Dick Cheney is not a cartoon-like villain.

I get your point about the local aspect of this (something I was thinking myself). But I really think they offend different kinds of people. Is Bob Barr going to be offended at Abramoff? Kind of, but not so much. Hell, even a lot of (unsavory) Democratic types will only object to Abramoff for partisan reasons. I've met too many Republican voters who "might win the lottery one day and so want Republicans to be in charge so they can keep their winnings" to believe the graft will offend everyone.

Cartoon-like villians don't get 51% of the popular vote. Should they be seen as cartoon-like villians? Do we see them as cartoon-like villians? Those are different questions than whether the general public or the electorate will see them as cartoon-like villians.

I'm usually wrong but I predict the public reaction to Abramoff will be "yeah, so politicians are corrupt, what else is new?" unless we get mug shots & criminal trials of people they know. I also predict the GOP will find some minor version of graft among Dems -- don't kid yourself that there's none out there, or that it can exist and not be exploited -- and it will be covered as "Dems vs. Republicans" partisanship or "all politicans are corrupt" in a number of balanced "tell-both-sides" news stories that manage to inflate a minor offense and minimize Abramoff.

Meanwhile, the Barron's piece, and rumbling from within the GOP make me think the wiretapping will have legs. But, again, I'm batting about zero for 50 at this point and Mimikatz is usually right on, so in a backwards sort of way my predictions being opposite of hers are confirmation that she's right on this one too.

I just wish bloggers and all others would refrain from referring to him as "president."

Just plain George Bush will suffice.

Maybe instead of NSA wiretapping, etc., we should refer to this as the secret police.

Scandals keep coming, and get bigger and more damaging, and now we've hit indicted WH aide(s?), widespread bribery, and Nixonian wiretapping and a whole bonus constitutional crisis to boot. And yet the blue dress got more coverage. What will it take to get traction? Probably a change in the 2006 elections.

This is Bush's stability level right now (low-mid 40s), but it can be undone by one of three things:

1)Abramoff or Rove
2) gas prices rise again and
3) The housing bubble being definitively labeled and prices in major marked posting declines over a multi month period, with an attendant ripple effect throughout the national economy.

I believe all 3 are inevitable, the latter two within 24 months.

emptypockets, i think the scandals at very worst will be big factors in a small but crucial number of races

every R seat that comes into play that otherwise wouldn't is a big benefit.

But were this a Presidential year, your scenario would no doubt be the play (and likely coverage angle) for the R side. I think Presidential years the general party images are a factor and play out for the candidates. Other years, it's all local.

DH is right that Bush and Cheney are not really seen as cartoon-like villans--not by the general public. And we despise them too much for it to be a cartoon.

I did not read the Barron's article but just about it. It made me wonder if some folks are worrying about using the NSA for industrial espionage or to benefit friends.

On Abramoff--take John Doolittle (CA-04). There have been long staff-written articles about him in both the Sacramento Bee and SF Chronicle. He would have been a shoo-in but for Abramoff and the subpoena of documents from his wife's consulting biz. He may still be, but he's got primary opponents as well as 2 Dem opponents, a legislative staffer and a veteran. He won't be able to provide lots of help to other R's. One place that the spying won't go over is in the rural and semi-rural west, and part of his district is that.

There will be other districts where the scandal has an effect even if there aren't indictments, and if there are indictments of 4-6 GOP congressmen, it would have a major impact, I would think.

I'm glad Crab Nebula mentioned an otherwise missing elephant in the room: the possibility of a sharply declining economy. Did anyone note the stories yesterday or the day before, mentioning a movement in the bond market that has virtually always foretold recession? It's startling to note that Bush's huge poll problems (well documented here) have all occurred with economic numbers that usually keep a president in positive territory. If that factor goes south, 2005 might look like the good old days.

I understand pollsters at present are getting ab "oh, they're all corrupt" reading on Abramoff, but 1) that may change as it becomes clear all participants have (R)'s after their names; 2) DHinMI is correct, it will greatly affect some local races; and 3) even a generalized stench will hurt the party holding power, as it did the Dems in '94.

DHinMI, just wanted you to know I'm suitably humbled by the generous things you said about me yesterday at DailyKos. (And I'll get to that other thing you emailed about, once the holiday swirl has passed)

demtom, glad you saw it. And I'm also glad that we regularly get to see you and Rick and Crab and others who don't chat much at DKos on our threads here.

And you're right about Crab's comment. In fact, the biggest elephant in the room probably is the housing market, even more so than gas prices. People can drive less, or it won't hurt them as much if they have a small car or use a lot of public transportation. But the housing market even stalling (to say nothing of a bubble bursting) would cause some serious, serious pain. And I'll bet that about that time Brooksie and crew who've been touting the exurbs as the long-term salvation of the GOP will be severely chastened, ESPECIALLY if it goes hand-in-hand with another bounce in gas prices.

It's far more important to restore the Constitution than to get the Republicans on the Abamoff scandal. Of course, ALL illegal activity of this seriousness should be punished.

But the unilateral expansion of executive power is so injurious to our Constitution that it goes beyond politics. With the President effectively claiming power to spy on, imprison, and torture anyone he pleases (he only has to privately claim he believes they are terrorists), we are virtually guaranteed to end up in dictatorship. If not Bush, some near future President will take and use (read "abuse") these powers.

Real patriots stand up for the Constitution, not the war in Iraq or other such nonsense. Forget about "helping" Iraq (for now): democracy begins at home.

Nothing goes beyond politics. Case in point: a Dem congress (either chamber) vs a Rep congress in regard to subpoenas, investigations, etc.

This is as basic a point as there is, Ray. 2006 is the key to actually doing something about it (whatever your favorite 'it' is). But without a congressional changeover, nothing will happen.

Well, with gerrymandering unchecked for so many years, it's hard to get rid of any congressmen or women. That's another Constitutional issue that's killing us.

We have the Representatives choosing their voters, rather than voters choosing their representatives. This is bad—it should be easier for the voters to turn out incumbents, whatever their party.

Yes, let's try to win an election. But really, Congress is hard to move. We need our courts to function. If they fail us, well, Mr. Jefferson said it best in the Declaration...If the courts fail us, it's up to US, the People...

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