Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Play it to the Bone, er, Base

Terrence Jeffrey, in his latest article, has some advice for President Bush. Essentially he should start picking fights with the Democrats and Liberals.

Jeffrey praises Bush for putting the warrentless wiretapping program front and center. He then suggests Bush "deploy troops to secure the Mexican American Border", "offer supplemental spending cuts and enforce them with a veto", and "lift the moratoria on offshore drilling and enforce it with a veto."

Of these three plans, the first is ludicrous. We don't have enough to do occupying Iraq, so let's occupy the American Southwest. Brilliant. The third would cost the Republicans Florida, so it isn't likely either.

The middle one might have some legs, but it's esoteric enough that it will appeal mostly to conservative policy wonks. I admit they would get super happy at any spending cuts, and Democrats would fight it tooth and nail.

But so would most Republicans. Because you would end up cutting "pet projects" as the most politically viable. Cut welfare programs and you get a few years of ads explaining that Bush wants those of us who have the least to shoulder the cost of his war. So it will be things like bridges to nowhere and tree research stations. I guess I could live with that; but Congress critters won't be keen on it. So, even if President Bush enforces it with a veto, I don't think it's going to fly.

On the other hand, even if he can't actually accomplish these plans, trying to accomplish them could certainly invigorate the base. There's nothing they like better than a good donnybrook (that's true of all bases, incidentally), and this would certainly give them one. But my feeling is that the Bush Administration doesn't want any losing fights just now.

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