Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Why Bush Should Resign

By Mitchell

Bet that headline got your attention, right? (Either that, or the shock of me posting twice in two weeks.) Of course it’s an attention-grabber as well as being something utterly unlikely to happen, but as an academic exercise it provides a little fun. And while I’m deliberately being provocative, I want to make some serious points as well.

First of all, in the interests of full disclosure I should mention that I've never considered myself a Bush supporter. I didn't vote for him in 2000 (don't worry, I didn't vote for Gore either), and only voted for him in 2004 with reservations. And I do consider myself a former Republican, as well as a former politico. I’m one of those conservatives who feels deserted by the Republicans over the last few years, and I’ve also come to see the folly of depending on politics to answer life’s burning questions (at least politics unsupported by faith). But having said that…

Throughout the Bush administration, but most especially in the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, we have seen the party hierarchy acting as an adjunct of the administration itself. When the RNC campaigned in behalf of Miers (or, more precisely, Bush’s nomination of Miers) it was saying, in effect, that what was good for Bush was good for the party. Not just good, but essential. Taken in conjunction with the typical party line – Republican policies are better for the country than those of the Democrats – one can assume the logical continuation of this thought, which is that Bush’s agenda is good for the country.

Looking at Bush not only as president but as leader of his party it is (to me) an inescapable fact that he is no longer capable of providing leadership on the issues most important to the party’s national agenda. In state after state we saw many incumbents losing because of their relationship to Bush, i.e. being in the same party with him. Not withstanding the loss of the abortion law in South Dakota and the ESCR amendment in Missouri , many of the referenda up for votes last night – same-sex marriage in several states, the MCRI in Michigan , the popular vote on the death penalty in Wisconsin – provide confirmation of Republican core issues. Issues that many Republican candidates failed to connect with, at least until it was too late.

This is not to mention the several cases where the national party organization viciously opposed conservative Republicans involved in primary contests with liberal Republican incumbents (Rhode Island this year, Pennsylvania two years ago). Nor can we neglect the abuse that conservative Republicans have taken from the party organization when they opposed Bush’s policies – on immigration, for example. (Rumors swirled last night and this morning that he would try to work out a deal with House Democrats for a more liberal policy on immigration.)

One wonders where the party goes from here. Are Bush’s policies still the gold standard for the Republicans, or is it every man for himself? If Bush can no longer function as leader of the Republican party, the party that is now committed to providing the loyal opposition, what happens to the Republican agenda?

If we equate the president in his role as party leader with that of national leader, and if we conclude that Bush can no longer credibly lead the party (remember, this is only an academic discussion – a man with nothing to lose may yet surprise us in his final two years), it then follows that Bush can no longer adequately function as president. He cannot manage his party’s agenda, whether through Congress or to the American people, and if that’s a significant part of his role as president then he is failing the test.

Logically then, he should resign.

There are a number of reasons why this won’t happen. We’re not a parliamentary government after all, where the leaders are periodically subject to votes of no confidence. (You have to wonder how many presidents we would have gone through in the last fifteen years or so if that option had been available). Furthermore, on a more purely practical political level, if Bush resigns we get Cheney. In addressing Bush’s shortcomings, would we really be any better off? Cheney is at least as closely identified with the Iraq fiasco as is Bush; to the extent that Iraq cripples the administration, Cheney is at best a push. And while Cheney may well lean more to the right on other issues than Bush, it’s doubtful that he’d have the popular support to get a more conservative agenda through. Besides, he’s not a candidate for president in 2008; allowing him to run as an incumbent through resignation (as Clinton should have done with Gore during Bill’s impeachment) isn’t a factor.

So what then? Bush and Cheney ran as a team; do they step down as one? Leaving the president pro-tempore as the new chief executive? And who is it, anyway? What’s that? Ted Stevens? Uh, never mind. Don’t even suggest the next in line, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. And as a reasonable Democratic friend mentioned to me, there’s no telling what kind of havoc this kind of turmoil would wreak on the economy.

Given the circumstances, this is a scenario that just ain’t gonna happen, except in political potboilers. And yet, my suggestion is only slightly on the facetious side. The president has been a disaster – his foreign policy, while well-intentioned, has lacked vision and failed to correctly anticipate what would come next. One can hardly doubt that Bush recognizes the importance of the war on terror – he knows this perhaps as well as anyone and certainly better than most in the Democratic party. But he no longer has the credibility to carry this fight to our enemies. Domestically, Bush has betrayed the fundamental principles of the conservative, i.e. Reagan, revolution. Certainly in this he has had company, for much of the Republican Congressional leadership has joined him in jumping over the edge. But were they simply playing follow the leader? Was the makeup of Republican leadership inevitable given the disposition of the man at the top of the ticket?

The bottom line is this: the president should either lead, follow, or get out of the way. Bush has demonstrated that he cannot lead, and as president he certainly should not follow the lead of the Democrats. That leaves only one option.


  1. One of the hardest things in politics is the "Big Picture" game.

    Unfortunately, as much as we want hardcore, the problem is two-fold:

    1. The R's have a bigger tent than the D's with a bigger "tent".

    2. In the Senate, any minority which is between 41 and 49 can play the filibuster game.

    Unfortunately, as we've learned, the far left has controlled the judicial nominating process using the filibuster. Sometimes an intimidation tactic must be used and "feign" a candidate which won't be put to a hearing, so you can then put down the real one (Alito). Unfortunately, those who supported Alito were those who fell.

    Furthermore, President Bush has to think Big Picture during any election: get the most of his side in, so that they can get the leaders who will support his views, and then have them fall in line. When the enemy is there, you can't play 100%. I heard Michael Reagan make a comment years ago that you won't have a 100% candidate, but get the most you can.

    What Pelosi and Reid have plans are to eliminate the United States government and replace it with a judiciary which decides all laws are made in Belgium at the European union. The constitutional right to sodomy is a European law codified by our courts.

    But the big Left victory -- and I can say this from looking at the analysis sheets -- is built on the Left's obsession with the MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE. Local minimum wage hikes -- setting the wage from the federal $5.15 to state wages of one to two dollars higher per hour -- were the campaign issues liberals used to win the government. All of them passed, and they were endorsed by unions. The labor unions, which have consistently stolen cash from employees to push their agenda, have shown their power.

    Most of the states where the Left took seats in the legislature were states where a minimum wage hike was on the ballot.

    In the minimum wage war, the wages were set a dollar higher for now AND carry an annual inflation adjustment. This means a statewide minimum wage will be consistenly higher each year.

    This may doom, in my view, the states which just sent Pelosi and Reid to leadership posts, since they now have baggage industries will say, "That state has an exorbitantly high minimum wage policy which hurts jobs".

    The liberals will think most states will go for a higher federal minimum wage because of this now.

    Also a weapon for liberals are film stars: Michael J. Fox put Maryland and Missouri in their column.

    So we know see that the Hollywood Left and the Labour Unions have now controlled this nation through the elections.

    As much as I didn't like some moves in the legislature, the way unions, which have long stolen money from workers to spend on lavish events and political campaigning even the employees oppose, have seized back government control show the danger of what happens when a dangerous labour group takes control.

    The Dems also want to eliminate right to work laws, creating forced unionism so that things such as their minimum wage hike initiatives will create a legacy.

    So many people don't look at the big picture. They see what's on television with the talking bumbling idots and think it's gospel, and not understand the ultimate goal.

    President Bush set an ultimate goal, and understands you don't win a game on the first play alone and would rather be methodical in the long drive to victory. Liberals go for the one-play move to change the game around. In this case, the one play of the minimum wage hike was their weapon.

  2. As someone from the left who more and more is finding himself searching out for third party candidates, and as a fellow Minneapolitan, I voted for the Instant Runoff Voting experiment to be used with respect to City Council and Mayoral elections.

    For those not familiar with it, When you vote for an office, you may (you don't have to) vote for more than one candidate as long as you rank them in order of your preferences.

    When the ballots are tabulated (and this is where computers are extremely helpful), if one candidate gets 50.1%, he/she wins just like normal.

    But if nobody gets 50.1% (or more than 40% in the case of the Jesse Ventura election) the candidate getting the least number of votes is removed from the second balloting and the second choices on those ballots are added to the remaining candidates.

    That continues until one candidate receives the 50.1%

    The system is used in Ireland and some other countries and in some cities in the U.S., I believe.

    I will greatly increase the viability of third party and independent candidates.

    In the case of Minnesota's recent gubernatorial election, it would have been conceivable that Peter Hutchinson the third candidate might have gotten a lot of first place votes from folks who weren't thrilled about Hatch or Pawlenty. And he could have won.

    It will be interesting to see it in action. I assume it passed. But it probably takes 50.1 of all ballots and maybe all did not vote on the question.

    And then of course, there will be the obligatory lawsuit.

    How did you vote on it, Mitchell?

  3. Drew

    (just kidding, though I am pleasantly surprised to see you posting again, Mitchell)

    Mitchell: I think you are being too generous with President Bush. IMHO if the criteria for your stance that Bush should resign is that he cannot lead his party then I think he quit demonstrating his ability to do just that at least 5 years ago.

    President Bush often acts and functions as a man on his own. He is usually convinced he is right and no one is going to tell him different. Or, they tell him and he does not listen. OR, he's surrounded by people who do the talking and thinking for him. It's hard to know because he rarely SPEAKS clearly. He gets defensive very easily or he refuses to speak at all.

    I think 9/11 helped him in that for a time he was perceived as a strong, reassuring leader in a way people thought Al Gore Jr. could not be.

    But, once time passed and it became clear to the general public (though savvy people were on to it well before that) that the intelligence on Iraq was not intelligent at all and we still can't seem to find Osama bin Laden any popularity he had after 9/11 waned.

    Add to the above disatrous mix the Abu Gharib scandal, his pushing thru increased federal powers for wiretapping and imprisonment without trial and you have a civil liberties disaster. I think history will remember him for his civil liberties law changes he made in the name of national security.

    I think for me, he really became a leader, when he stood up for Teri Schiavo. It seemed for a while he was really going to fully embrace the pro-life platform. Then, he backed off and continues to hold the line on existing embryonic stem cell lines being used for research rather then trying to abolish that practice altogether.

    Bush is not a leader in the sense of being an instigator. He's a reactionary. He reacts to what is put before him, rather then instigating it himself. He was that way as Governor of Texas. It seems to be in his personality. What I'm saying is: the signs of what kind of a President he would be were there before he was elected.

  4. Good comments all:

    1) Bobby, I agree that we have to have a long-term outlook on the situation. I also think you're spot-on with the minimum-wage point; I think Jonah at NRO suggested that the Republicans might want to give in on that point in order to remove it as a campaign issue. Hopefully, what will emerge from this is a true conservative consensus as to what the party should stand for. I'm cautiously optimistic on this, but I've learned when dealing with the GOP that optimism is often a wasted emotion.

    2) Ray mentions the instant-runoff idea. I'm just now sure about this; I completely understand the logic behind it, and to that extent I think there's something to it. But I'm troubled with the idea that a second choice might wind up winning - there's something about that that suggests to me the will of the people might not necessarily be heard. It's like a sports team playing to not lose, rather than playing to win. Unless you're talking about a convention with the possibility of multiple ballots, I don't really cotton to the idea of trying to be everyone's second choice. As to how I voted on it, let's just say that I've voluntarily sacrificed the right to complain about the result...

    3) Cathy makes some shrewd insights about the president. I never was taken in by the idea that Bush was a real conservative, in the sense that so many disillusioned conservatives seem to have been. I believe in giving the man his due when appropriate (I thought he did a brilliant job of campaigning during the off-year elections in 2002), but I've never been one of his Hugh Hewitt-like supporters. I think his main problem in Iraq has been 1) not making a convincing case to the public, and 2) lacking the will to do whatever it takes to accomplish the mission. When you say "the signs of what kind of a President he would be were there before he was elected," you are dead-on!



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