Yesterday, I talked about doing the doable and trying to establish a sustainable united policy for Iraq. The premise is simple, If President Bush has lost support of the people that put him in office, the Iraqis will not risk their lives for a Bush plan that has no future. A paragraph from a NYT article contains some remarkable details about a new spirit of independence in the Congress:
"...“We have got a lot of free agents,” said Senator John Thune, Republican of South Dakota, referring to the Republican backlash over the president’s proposal for a troop increase in Iraq.
Facing as much internal party dissension as he has seen since taking office, Mr. Bush invited Republican leaders of the House and Senate to his Camp David retreat this weekend to plot strategy only days after his plan for a troop buildup ran into scorching Republican resistance on Capitol Hill. While Republican unrest about Iraq was the most visible party division, others were starkly reflected in the ease with which House Democrats pushed through initial elements of their 100-hour legislative program with substantial Republican backing.
Only one House Republican opposed changes in ethics rules. Eighty-two Republicans joined Democrats in approving an increase in the minimum wage; 68 Republicans backed the new majority’s measure that puts into force remaining recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission; 48 supported a return to pay-as-you-go budget rules, and 37 endorsed expanded embryonic stem cell research.
The numbers dipped a bit on Friday, when only two dozen Republicans voted with Democrats to allow the federal government to negotiate Medicare drug prices, an issue where Republican free-market ideology clashes with the Democratic vision of the role of government. But in the often-polarized House, crossing the aisle in such numbers on major legislation is rare."...
Equally telling was a little-noticed procedural vote when more than 50 Republicans rejected their party’s alternative to the Democratic minimum wage legislation, normally a statement of party loyalty. “I thought it was a sham,” Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York, said of his own party’s substitute."
Are these Republicans disloyal? Do they have BDS? Politics and governance are evolutionary. A successful political leader, such as a Ronald Reagan, has a sense for where the body politic is and where it can go. He can convince his core supporters to be joined by those on the periphery and draw off additional support from the opposition party. A successful practitioner of politics will be able to persuade others to accept and share his vision and direction. But that is procedure. There has to be an underlying good idea or vision. President Bush is failing to demonstrate to the majority of the American people, American allies, American enemies and the members of his own political party that he has the vision and skill to lead. Facing the obvious can be painful to watch.