March 8, 2006

The Stupid Party Returns

Hatched by Dafydd

Today, several prominent GOP congressmen tried their level best to lose the 2006 election -- an election they could have won by being less... well, stupid.

Fingers in the air, quivering bunny noses sensing a change in the wind, Republican Reps. Peter King (NY), Jerry Lewis (CA), Duncan Hunter (CA), Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (IL), and newly elected House Majority Leader John Boehner (OH) have decided to attach a rider to an appropriations bill funding the troops and Hurricane Katrina victims; the rider is intended to kill the Dubai Ports deal outright, even before the extended investigation completes. No sense wasting time by waiting for actual facts!

If they manage to get it passed -- and a small minority of them can do it, if they link up with all of the Democrats -- and if another small minority in the Senate join forces with Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Charles Schumer, Harry Reid, and their pals, then they will plop a must-veto, must-sign bill on Bush's desk long before the agreed-upon review of the deal is even completed.

The president will veto it; and whether the Congress overrides the veto or not, the GOP will be shattered and crippled in the upcoming election. But that's all right... "moderate" Republican Peter King (R-Hicksville) will do well with his liberal New York constituency. Perhaps, after the Democrats take over the House, King can turn his coat and keep his chairmanship of the House Homeland Security Committee.

It makes no difference whether you support the Dubai Ports deal or oppose it... this is a battle that should have been worked out behind closed doors. The president has made it clear he wants the deal to go forward in some manner; but he has also signalled that he will accept reasonable compromise. The rabid Jacobites here are the greedy House Republicans, who cannot wait for the investigation, cannot accept any compromise, must be the "winners who take all." The House members are more interested in collecting Bush's scalp than actually advancing the conservative cause.

The GOP had a great chance this year. Normally, the second-term midterm election is very bad for the incumbent party... but this time, the Democrats have been unable to come together on any platform, plan, or campaign theme whatsoever. The Republicans were well poised to maintain their majorities in both the House and Senate.

Until now. It's not that Republicans will vote for Democrats; but with the Congressional GOP attacking and trying to bring down the Republican president, a huge chunk of the Republican electorate may simply decide to stay home -- "a plague on both your houses." Today, if I were betting, I would wager that the Democrats pick up at least ten seats in the House and four or five in the Senate; maybe more. And I'm no longer even sure the Republicans deserve the majority anyway. Thanks, Mr. Stupid.

As infuriating as it is to see the Squeaker of the House pile on, Boehner is even more of a disappointment. I don't think anyone expected that the first peep we would hear out of the new majority leader would be "the polls are fluttering -- throw the president under the bus!"

Voters are largely opposed to the DP World plan, and that's something Republicans are sensitive to eight months before an election that will determine whether the GOP continues to control the House and Senate.

House Republicans feared that if they did not move to block the deal now, Democrats would force their own vote that would be successful. That would only invite criticism of the GOP's national security record, which historically has been the party's strength.

"This has become a very hot political potato," House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said. "I have seen it in my district. I have seen it every place I have been."

So, instead of backing Bush on the DP World takeover, House Republicans are largely reflecting their constituents' views and distancing themselves from a president's whose popularity has declined.

Rather than actually looking into the issue (too much work) and then standing up for what is right and rational (that would require leading), this handful has decided to find the nearest rampaging mob and dash to the front of it. The Democrats will be all too willing to oblige the Republicans' suicidal spree... and yet again, just as in decades past, the GOP (which was always more comfortable as the minority party) will snatch defeat from the dripping fangs of scary victory.

Even the Democrats are stunned that the Republicans rolled over so rapidly:

Several Republicans also said they saw little alternative but to act or face the prospect of Democrats' taking the initiative, potentially cutting into a Republican political advantage on national security issues.

Democrats said they were surprised at how quickly Republicans were moving to separate themselves from Mr. Bush.

I guess it's out of the question for GOP campaigners to point out that the Democrats are opposed to spying on al-Qaeda, opposed to the CIA interrogating terrorists, and opposed to racial profiling -- unless they're "profiling" a company owned by our greatest and most reliable Arab ally in the Global War on Jihadi Terrorism. Does any American really believe that the Democrats screaming about this deal really give a rat's patootie about national security, as opposed to simply partisan politics? Does anyone doubt that if a presiding Democratic president approved this same deal, all those loyalistas in the Democratic Party would defend it to the hilt?

The Democrats, at least, know what is meant by a "party vote."

What is so despicable about this is that a wonderful opportunity had just presented itself: a group of Republican budget hawks are just about to propose sweeping new budget cuts that would electrify the GOP voters. The president will almost certainly work with them and come up with a compromise between his own budget and the one proposed by the unnamed but allegedly influential representatives:

The legislation, part of a push by some Republicans to re-establish themselves as champions of fiscal restraint, was taking shape as President Bush struck a similar theme on Monday by asking Congress to grant him line-item veto power to eliminate federal spending that he might judge wasteful....

Senior aides say the conservatives' plan would wring about $350 billion from Medicare, Medicaid and other social programs and save $300 billion partly through a major reorganization of the Education, Commerce and Energy Departments.

But now, any progress in the direction of fiscal responsibility will be drowned out by Republican joyriders out in the streets, howling that President Bush is either an incompetent moron or a pro-terrorist traitor. That'll show those Democrats!

I am totally disgusted. No matter what the political problem, the solution is never to immolate your own president. Republicans tried that in 1974, thinking that by helping to destroy Richard Nixon (et tu, Barry?) they would dodge the axe themselves.

And in the Congressional elections two months later, the Democrats captured 49 Republican seats in the House and 4 GOP seats in the Senate. Two years after that, in the 1976 election, Jimmy Carter won a narrow victory over Republican President Gerald Ford, giving Democrats control of the House, Senate, and the White House.

The rule is simple: eating your own never works in politics. You can never win by turning against your own standard bearer like dogs tearing the wounded pack-leader to pieces. If the Flab Five had even a thimbleful of political brains, they would work with the president and come to an amicable compromise. Several people have already floated the possibility, first suggested here on Big Lizards, of an intermediary American subsidiary, independently operated, that would actually control port operations; and the White House has already subtlely signalled they might go along with this.

But that is unacceptable to the ghouls. It is not enough that they, themselves win; they must see George Bush lose. They imagine this will solidify their standing as "independent minded" Republicans; but assuredly, it will only reveal to the Republican voters that they are disloyal thugs who cannot be trusted, men with no gratitude for all that Bush has done in 2002 and 2004 to reverse their declining fortunes and hold the majority.

And we will remember who cost us the last two years and gave us President Hillary, President Howard, or President Al. We'll remember who cost us the Iraq War and brought about another terrible terrorist attack on America.

Buckle up, friends; it's going to be a bumpy ride. Now.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 8, 2006, at the time of 3:09 AM

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Tracked on March 14, 2006 5:20 AM


The following hissed in response by: Mr. Michael

Pick my jaw up off of the floor, will you? I mean, yeah, Denny Hastert hasn't been Mister Media Face in the last four years, but I thought that maybe he had been working behind the scenes to promote the cause of... well, I dunno, America maybe? Instead we find that he is desparate for all of the things he used to work against.

Well, fine, the beauty of the system is that there are elections... and house members must face re-election every term. I'm sure there are capable republican candidates who are willing to emulate the class of '94 who we can support... and there is no better tool than the Blogosphere to do so.

Throw the bums out, yes. But replace them with folks who will do what needs to be done to continue the possibility of a Free and Successful America. Right now neither Denny Hastert et al Nor the Democrats show that they can do so.

The above hissed in response by: Mr. Michael [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 8, 2006 10:39 AM

The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith

My blood pressure's doing bad things right now but I'm trying to keep plodding on. I've linked to your post from

I took my best shot at explaining why the DPW deal needs to be approved here. My thinking hasn't changed.

The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 8, 2006 4:06 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Bill Faith:

I read this post of yours; it's pretty good... though it was a bit tough deciphering which parts were yours and which were from other people you were quoting (and disagreeing with!)

Another point I think I'm going to make later today: I believe this bill that Lewis just rammed through the House Appropriations Committee essentially bars all non-U.S. companies from running port ops. I'll have to look more deeply into it.

But if it does, and if it becomes law -- then what the hell happens next? There are no U.S. companies that can handle port operations at any of the large ports in the United States! Not even Halliburton is set up for that.

So what happens... all the foreign companies pack up and leave, and our ports simply cease operations?

Did anybody in Congress think through to the next step after venting spleen?


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 8, 2006 5:34 PM

The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith


Thanks for taking time to read it. Actually the lengthiest part of the post, and I hope the part you had trouble deciphering, was written as a comment by historian/author/veteran George "Rurik" Mellinger, who didn't expect to see it moved to the main body of the post. The "Kit Carson" analogy was mine and after I posted it I emailed some fellow Viet Nam vets to see what they thought of it. George, who worked shoulder to shoulder with Kit Carsons in 'Nam responded in my comments section and I found his comment interesting enough that I moved it to the main post body. btw, the "We need the UAE because of our problems with Iran" meme on my blog traces back to your writing, and in particular a map you posted a while back.

I'll be watching for your next post on the subject.

The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 8, 2006 7:26 PM

The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith


I just realized that part of what made that post so hard to decipher was a formatting error on my part. A lot of my friends words that should have been blockquoted weren't, which would make it hard to figure out what he wrote and what I wrote. I'll figure out this blogging thing eventually, I guess.

The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 8, 2006 11:31 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Bill Faith:



The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 9, 2006 1:26 AM

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