For the past three years, the Bush administration, largely at the direction of political strategist Karl Rove, has sought to move the political agenda towards the middle, which, from the vantage point of the Conservative grassroots that elected Bush, means away from their core values and principles. Bush and Rove presumed, somewhat arrogantly, that they were systematically taking Liberal issues “off the table” for Democrats by essentially adopting them, when in fact they were taking those issues off the table for Conservatives who chiefly voted for Bush with the expectation that he would protect them from such things. Yet (as is always the case whenever this inane strategy is employed), no appreciable gains have been made among the opposition.
According to research data compiled by the National Taxpayers’ Union Foundation, all eight Democratic candidates would significantly increase government spending (and thus, tax rates) were any of them to be elected. Such information should make the deficit issue a “slam dunk” for the President. Unfortunately, dire predictions of excessive spending by the U.S. government under the control of Democrats ring somewhat hollow in light of Bush’s own behavior. His less-than-sterling record on fiscal discipline, having implemented the biggest entitlement expansion in four decades with his prescription drug plan alone, thoroughly undermines any ominous warnings of Democrat raids on the treasury. In this manner, Liberal candidates like Kerry can find refuge under the umbrella of Republican “moderation,” though they could never have hoped to do so were they running against a true Conservative.
The campaign finance “reform” law, which President Bush refused to veto in early 2002, returned to haunt him at a most inopportune time, when the U.S. Supreme Court decided last month to uphold many of its blatantly unconstitutional provisions. Likely presuming that the law would be overturned in the courts, and not wanting to be on record as supporting the status quo in politics, Bush signed the measure instead of castigating its sponsors for their transparent attack on free speech.
In a recent gesture of apparent atonement, President Bush has finally taken the offensive in the matter of the federal courts. By installing Alabama Attorney General Charles Pickering on the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, the President effectively bypassed the unconstitutional filibuster of federal judges being waged by Senate Democrats.
Pickering alone will have virtually no effect on the rampant judicial activism being committed by Liberal judges on this nation’s high courts. It remains to be seen whether Bush’s move is part of a determined plan to restore the integrity of the Constitution, in which case he will have to follow up with other recess appointments. According to James Taranto ’s January 19 Wall Street Journal editorial, the appointment is instead merely a political move, intended to motivate Evangelical voters who abandoned Bush in large numbers during the 2000 presidential race.
In his January 20 State of the Union address, President Bush indicated an intention to take the offensive in regards to judicial activism, while toning down his earlier advocacy of an open borders policy with Mexico, a policy that greatly angered the Conservative base of the Republican Party and the Bush II Presidency. A mid-course correction of this nature will do much to restore his disillusioned base, but the effort will have to be concerted, yielding tangible benefits, if it is to net any positive political gains. By framing judicial activism as it should be, and thereby making its erosion of the U.S. Constitution central to his 2004 campaign, President Bush could reap great political gains from the unparalleled stonewalling antics of Senate Democrats.
Otherwise, if as the Iowa caucuses seem to suggest, John Kerry takes the lead in the Democratic primaries, and if he is able to convince the American people that his war record (lest we ever forget) sufficiently qualifies him to deal with national security, that issue may no longer be Bush’s “ace in the hole.”
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