In October of 2005, I was one of the first to experience the W, T, and F to come October 3rd. Here at RedState, I had legitimately been breaking news about George W. Bush’s Supreme Court appointments. First came John Roberts. Then came, not Samuel Alito, but Harriet Miers.
I had a few good sources inside and outside the White House who had been feeding me information. Everyone seemed perplexed by the Miers decision. Within minutes of its public announcement I had a post ready to go highlighting her campaign donation to Al Gore when he’d run in the Democratic primary against George H. W. Bush in 1988.
The solidarity of conservatives and Republicans with George W. Bush began crumbling. Publicly, U.S. Senators and outside voices on the right were standing shoulder to shoulder with the President. Inside, many knew there was a crisis. Privately, a number of people involved in the nomination process decided they had to sabotage it. It is one of the great untold stories — more than one disastrous meeting between Miers and a senator did not actually happen. But the press, looking for gossip, ran with stories fed by people close to the nomination process who were intent on stopping it.
Once everyone mentally made the break with President Bush on Miers, it became a hell of a lot easier to also make the break from him on immigration reform in 2006 and other policy initiatives. It became easier to even express disappointment with the Bush Administration’s handling of war policy.
Harriet Miers was Bush’s “Emperor Has No Clothes” moment. But it took his own side to do it. It always takes a President’s own side to do him in. And once they start, it becomes hard for them to stop.
Once they have the power to start undermining their own guy’s foundation, they feel powerful, emboldened, and in a second term feel like they might be helping lay the foundations for the successor anyway. So they do it with a mostly clear conscience convinced they’re actually helping the next nominee by shutting down the present President.
I’m reminded of all this by
Ron Fournier’s column today. Democrats are beginning behave as Republicans did headed into 2006.
The level of disquiet among Democrats reminds me of President George W. Bush’s second term, when my best sources were frustrated Republicans. (Interviewing Republicans today is like interviewing Democrats in 2006: predictably partisan, rarely insightful.)
Polling for a President in his last mid-term election tends to take a downward trajectory. Survival for members of the President’s party requires self-preservation. But when politicians think their party leader isn’t even trying, it’s not just about self-preservation, but about retribution. About the only thing that could salvage Democrat unity now is for Republicans to impeach the President.
That may be why the most prominent voices on the subject are Democrats. The President’s supporters are all but publicly begging the Republicans to begin impeachment proceedings in order to put their Humpty Dumpty back together again. It won’t happen. Deep down, the Democrats in Washington know it. So they’ll go into self-preservation mode, lick their wounds in November, then even more publicly move on to their next party leader.