If we can lay aside the rancor of today’s politics for a minute, I’d like to have you recall a time eight years ago, when President Bush first assumed office. From the outset, President Bush proclaimed that his adminstration would reach out to Democrats and those on the left with a “new tone.” In May of 2001 in St. Paul, the new president declared:
“Just as we need a new tone in Washington, we also need a new tone in discussing energy and the environment, one that is less suspicious, less punitive, less rancorous. We’ve yelled at each other enough. Now it’s time to listen to each other, and act.”
The following August, just before 9-11, speaking in the Rose Garden at the White House, the president said:
>”Together with Congress, we’re proving that a new tone, a clear agenda and active leadership can bring significant progress to the nation’s capital,” Bush said. “We’re ending deadlock and drift and making our system work on behalf of the American people.”
Despite what you’ve been taught, President Bush went on to make good on his pledge. To the chagrin of conservatives, President Bush invited the lion of liberalism, Ted Kennedy, to assist in drafting an education bill. In its June 4, 2001 report, Spinsanity even accused President Bush of using his non-critical “new tone” as a tool to “suppress Democratic opposition.”
Granted, the worst terror attack ever conceived against America did much to temporarily unify the political parties and delay the inevitable. But, as always, the new tone envisioned by the President could not keep up with the flood of partisanship. It was not too long before Democrats were writing missives to each other stating that criticism of the war in Iraq would give them a great opportunity to regain power. With this, the Democrats and their 95 percent Democrat media allies used the mothers of slain soldiers to attack President Bush’s war policies. Later, emboldened by early successes in this political war against the President, they drafted the assistance of mentally defunct, but seemingly above reproach, congressmen such as John Murtha. With their own war records behind them, little could be done to challenge the sincerity of their carping, and their supposed insight into how the war was going. As support for the war withered under the assault, Democrat big-wigs such as Rahm Emmanuel challenged the party to maintain the ceaseless drum beat against the Iraq war.November of 2006 brought big fruit to the party for its barrage against America’s war effort. Indeed, not only did the party score an effective majority in both houses, but in the House of Representatives, the Democrats took control by a comfortable margin.
Both hapless and helpless, President Bush didn’t quite “get” the criticism leveled against him. Yes, he was stubborn on the Iraq War–but he was stubborn with everyone on that subject. Yes, he used the war for modest degree of political showmanship, but nothing more than any other president had done. Wasn’t it also true that he had gone left-ward with the No Child Left Behind Act? Didn’t he also sponsor the huge medicare prescription drug benefit? Didn’t he also sign off on the Republican-killing McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act? Yes, he did all of this, hoping to show his adversaries how reasonable and “unextremist” he really was. It was in vain.
The crescendo against the President grew. Now, the “new tone” President was being accused of rank and blinding partisanship. But still, Bush demurred to the critique. Why answer the allegations and descend to their level, right?
It appears that Republicans have an inherent disorder which I shall refer to as “beltwayitis.” When afflicted with beltwayitis, a Republican attempts to assuage his enemies by adopting many of their policies. The usual end result of this disease is that the enemies win their political goals and the Republicans are left defeated in the dust. Sure symptoms of beltwayitis can be described as follows:
a new-found desire to “reach out” to opponents, rather than convince them;
an intolerance for the smallest weakness in a fellow Republican, yet the desire to “rise above” felony conduct committed by Democrats;
the unrelenting urge to complain about one’s party in order to avoid defending conservative principles on weekend news programs;
the repeated use of jargon phrases like “big tent,” “reaching out,” “avoiding extremism,” and “moderate voters;”
Excellent examples of persons afflicted with beltwayitis are: Trent Lott (a/k/a “go-along-to-get-along”); Lindsey Graham (see also, “gang of stupidity”); Bob Packwood (ex-Senator from Oregon–he grabbed a girl’s butt, but he didn’t use a cigar, so he’s outta there!); and sadly, John McCain (“go left young man” he was once told).
Until a cure can be found for beltwayitis, there is no hope that we, as a nation, will return to constitutional government.