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Bush's "Disaster"

The MSM is trying to spin yesterday's election as a disaster for President Bush. But a simple exercise of just checking the election results from four years ago shows this to be partisan spin.

2001 Virginia: Warner (D) 52%, Earley (R) 47%
2005 Virginia: Kaine (D) 52%, Kilgore (R) 46%

2001 New Jersey: McGreevey (D) 56%, Schundler (R) 42%
2005 New Jersey: Corzine (D) 53%, Forrester (R) 44%

2001 New York City: Bloomberg (R) 50%, Green (D) 47%
2005 New York City: Bloomberg (R) 59%, Ferrer (D) 39%

The Democratic sweep of New Jersey and Virginia foreshadowed absolutely nothing for 2002. So the idea that the election results are proof of Democratic strength or Republican weakness is partisan blather, parroted by a sympathetic media.

Now none of this is to suggest that President Bush and the GOP don't have some serious problems, they do. If there is a difference between 2001 and 2005, it can be summed up in President Bush's job approval. On Election Day 2001 Bush's job approval in the RCP Average stood at 85.2%, today it is hovering at an all time low of 38.5%. Below 40% is a problem.

The fact that the President has not received any bounce from the Miers withdraw and subsequent Alito nomination (at least yet) is an indication that the relentless Democrat pounding that "Bush lied," has taken its toll. Perhaps the the Libby indictment, as it has been filtered down to average Jane and Joe American, has provided just enough credibility to lend credence to the Democratic attacks the public has heard for months.

I suspect the White House does have a plan to counterattack, and maybe they are just waiting to make sure the coast is clear as far as Rove is concerned before they go on the full scale offensive. But they better get their act together soon. Public opinion is starting to calcify, and the longer the President's job approval sits below 40% the more that number will start to become a ceiling, as opposed to a floor.

The Gergen/Duberstien/MSM advice on how to right the ship is fools gold and, if followed, would completely demoralize his base and insure a Republican disaster in 2006. I suspect that Kenneth Walsh's US News article where he suggests the President is going back to who brought him to the dance is closer to the road he will follow:

Far from being chastened by recent setbacks, including the indictment of his chief of staff, Vice President Dick Cheney is thumbing his nose at his critics--and encouraging President Bush to do the same. "Bush and Cheney are standing as one," says a prominent Republican who regularly advises the White House. "Their strategy is to get the conservative base solidified again"

Behind the scenes, Cheney is feeding Bush's instinct never to give ground when under attack........President Bush, meanwhile, is thinking in bigger terms. Friends say he has decided that he will never catch a break from the Democrats or the media--on the CIA case or anything else--so he will govern from the right, as he did on most issues in his first term.

Bush would be well advised to follow the above path. He will never placate his political enemies or foes in the media.

While there is no question that the President has taken a pounding these last few months starting with Cindy Sheehan, Katrina, Miers and then Fitzgerald; he still holds some powerful cards not the least of which is the fecklessness of the Pelosi/Reid/Dean opposition. Democrats would be well advised to remember that Republicans put a hard and specific agenda in front of the American people in 1994, which combined with the unhappiness with Congress is what led to the big GOP win. Right now there is no Democratic agenda. Simply repeating "NO" or "BUSH LIED" is not a program.

If Bush is willing to fight he can turn things around. The final round of elections in Iraq, Saddam's impending conviction and execution, and the potential for many American troops to come home could provide a backdrop to turn around public perceptions about Iraq. A strong economy, coupled with firm housing and equity prices are another positive for the President. And then finally, the Alito nomination will provide a forum for a partisan fight, that as long as Alito is confirmed, will energize his base and demoralize the Left.

This isn't meant to be all happy talk for Republican prospects. The table is set for a very good 2006 for the Democrats. And the Republican recruiting woes and Democratic successes provide an early indication that the Bush election run may be coming to an end. But everyone should take a deep breath and remember it is November 2005 not November 2006. And because the Democratic "success" these last few months has come almost exclusively from Bush's woes and nothing the Democrats are pro-actively offering, the President has it in his power to turn things around for the GOP. But he better get out there and fight, because he is not going to catch a break from his political enemies, and he better get that job approval back above 40%.

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