Let’s Spin the Wheel of Blame

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Whose fault is it anyway?  Let’s start at the top and work our way down.  George W. Bush bears plenty of blame for this sorry state of affairs.  His naivette in thinking that he could single handedly change the tone of the debate in Washington set a bad precedent for the beginning of his first term.  Then he did the same thing after the 2004 election thereby proving that a Harvard MBA by itself must not be worth much.

Instead of picking one or two items on which to focus and getting solid support from his own party for these initiatives before going public with them.  He never had as much political capital as he thought that he did, and what he did have he spent poorly.  Even granting a mulligan for the first term, the second gave us the disastrous Social Security initiative and the abortive Harriet Myers candidacy.  In the Katrina aftermath, he had a great opportunity to own the public stage and provide real leadership.  He failed and lost the heart of the country in doing so.

Karl Rove and Tom DeLay also bear a large burden.  Their focus on winning elections by energizing the base and extremely focused targeting of the electorate showed that the Republican leadership was less concerned about ideas and and the citizenry they served than they were in the maintenance of power.  Now that they have neither ideas nor power, what are they good for?  There are some good and principled members of the Republican delegation.  They need our help and support in the struggle to revitalize the party.  There’s a reason that I haven’t self identified as a Republican since Reagan was in the White House.  I’m a conservative with libertarian leanings.  I know what I stand for and I know what the Democrats stand for; one of these years I hope to see evidence that the Republicans stand for anything.

John McCain also bears some responsibility for this.  I like Sarah Palin but she was clearly unprepared to be pushed onto the national stage when she was selected.  He should have had people working with her for months in advance to make certain that she would be ready to answer both the legitimate and the absurd questions about her qualifications.  If necessary, he should have had some people with each of the serious contenders to keep people guessing, but the mishandling of Sarah Palin in the weeks immediately following the convention implied that the campaign didn’t trust her.  Why should the voters trust someone that the campaign doesn’t?

McCain took a lot of topics off the table that could have helped cast serious doubts upon Obama’s credibility and he failed to set a winning tone in his public demeanor.  He seemed perfectly content to be a gentleman loser.  I admire the man personally, but we needed someone willing to take the fight to his opponent and able to work around the media to get his message to the voters.  The footage of McCain at the Al Smith dinner shows a side of him that was almost completely absent in the campaign that would have stood him well.  He seemed at ease and happy in that room and his humor worked to great effect.  Where was that for the other eight months of this year?

When the wheel stops spinning though, it’s pointing at us.  If the Republican leadership won’t lead then we must make them lead (or follow or get the hell out of the way).  We must make them choose better candidates and work to expand the base of potential voters.  The Hispanic population is growing rapidly and thanks to our legal culture the children of illegal aliens are citizens who will vote when they reach majority (both in age and in population density).  They voted for Bush in 2000.  They did not vote for McCain in 2008 and if we don’t work to reach them they may become just another permanent constituency of the Democratic Party.  In Texas, we have maybe four years to do something or it’s over for the Republicans.  Nationally, the window won’t be opened for much longer than that.  California and New York haven’t been competitive for Republicans in 20 years.  Without change, Texas and Florida will be gone soon.  Will the Republicans even notice?

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One Response to “Let’s Spin the Wheel of Blame”

  1. Tim of Angle Says:

    “The wheel never stops turning, Badger.”
    “That only matters to the people on the rim.”

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