In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 21, 2007 / 5 Tamuz, 5767

After Bush: Gingrich and others worry that his shortcomings could have a far-reaching effect on the GOP

By Jonathan V. Last

Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The worm may have finally turned for Republicans and President Bush.

Recently, Newt Gingrich wondered in the New Yorker whether Bush might be the GOP's Jimmy Carter: a party wrecker whose failures hobble his political allies for a generation. In a less civilized time, that sort of talk would have been settled with pistols at dawn.

Will Gingrich's concern be borne out? It will be a long while before we can say with any certainty. Bush's approval rating has sat in the low 30s for an uncommonly long time, and he will likely be a drag on the Republican nominee in 2008. The larger question, however, depends on the nature of Bush's failures.

Two of the most common criticisms of Bush have traditionally been that he is a rigid conservative ideologue and/or that he is a shameless partisan player. Certainly, the president has been more conservative than liberal, and his administration has at times been cravenly political. But neither of these criticisms adequately account for the character of Bush's tenure.

Start with his supposed arch-conservatism. Bush was never the conservative his supporters hoped for and his opponents feared. To pick just three large initiatives, consider No Child Left Behind, the Medicare prescription-drug plan, and his splitting the difference on embryonic stem cell research. Each was at odds with traditional conservatism. As smaller examples, recall the Supreme Court nomination of Bush crony Harriet Miers and the approval of the "emergency contraceptive" Plan B in exchange for the confirmation of David Hager, Bush's nominee at the time to head the Food and Drug Administration. Both of these were deliberate thumbs in the eyes of conservatives.

Then there's the Bush reputation for partisan opportunism. John DiIulio, former head of Bush's faith-based initiative, once lamented that "what you've got is everything - and I mean everything - being run by the political arm."

DiIulio may well have been accurate. Yet that can hardly explain a number of important stances the president has taken that are clearly against his political self-interest: his stillborn, but noble, attempt at Social Security reform; his Middle Eastern freedom agenda; and his continuing commitment to the war in Iraq. The president's immigration proposal is particularly striking because it runs counter to conservative ideology, is broadly unpopular among the general electorate, and is supremely unpopular among base Republican voters. The only way to explain Bush's commitment to immigration is that he must believe it is objectively the best policy for America.

(Well, there is one other theoretical possibility: If Bush were determined that John McCain not succeed him in office, he could hardly have done better than pushing immigration to center stage right now.)

None of which is to say that there is neither rhyme nor reason to Bush. The thread running through the nearly complete tapestry of his presidency is incompetence.

From the bungling after Hurricane Katrina to the appointment of political hacks to the mismanagement of the war (and peace) in Iraq, Bush's problems hail back not to failures of ideology or partisanship, but to simple incompetence from the chief executive and his administration. As Joseph Bottum puts it: "Again and again, [Bush] has done the right thing in the wrong way, until, at last, his wrongness has overwhelmed his rightness."

This is not to say that everything Bush touches turns to dross; that is clearly not the case. The appointments of Supreme Court Justices John G. Roberts Jr. and Samuel A. Alito Jr., for example, appear to be smashing successes, a true marriage of principled conservatism and good government.

And certainly Bush's administration has often been criticized unfairly. For instance, it is a common trope that the president has badly damaged America's relationship with our European allies. Yet recent elections in Germany and France swept clearly pro-American leaders to power.

That said, the overall impression of haplessness has the potential to inflict long-term damage on the Republican Party.

One of the golden rules of politics is to never let an issue problem become a character problem. The failure of any given Bush policy, or basket of policies, is one thing. It might cost Republicans an election and set the party back a bit. But if the sum of Bush's mistakes comes to represent the party's character, even after he's gone, that's another matter entirely. Just ask the post-Carter Democrats.

The obvious way out for Republicans is to run against both the Democratic nominee and Bush in 2008. Easier said than done.

Gingrich, however, has sketched out a rough blueprint for this strategy based on the success of Nicolas Sarkozy. As Gingrich explained to the New Yorker:

"What's fascinating about Sarkozy is that you have an incumbent cabinet member of a very unpopular 12-year presidency, who over the last three years became the clear advocate of fundamental change, running against an attractive woman who is the head of the opposition. In a country that wanted to say, 'Not them,' he managed to switch the identity of the 'them.' He said, 'I'm different from [former French president Jacques] Chirac, and she's not. If you want more of the same, you should vote for her.' "

Understand that the specter of Bush will be one of a few important dynamics influencing the 2008 race. The next election presents a rare combination of electoral uncertainty: a nation at war, split roughly 50-50 between the parties, with massive demographic shifts in motion (both of new immigrants and a rapidly aging population), and no incumbent leader running. It is an election with few precedents and an enormous capacity for volatility.

If the worst is true and Bush's failures pose a serious threat to the party, the Republicans will have to distance themselves from him, as Gingrich suggests. The question is whether they will do it before the election, or afterward, when the Democrats could conceivably control the House, the White House, and 62 seats in the Senate.

The sooner the better.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Jonathan V. Last is a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Comment by clicking here.


03/09/07 Why the British outclass us in acting
01/23/07 Romney: Seriously great, but with baggage
12/23/06 When truth is transpicuous
12/05/06 A realistic plan: Split the country in two
11/08/06 We could easily pull out of Korea and let China have regional hegemony. But would it be the right thing?
10/24/06 The decline of revolution
10/18/06 Why the free market is king
08/07/06 Democracy, of itself, not solution to all problems
08/01/06 We get the movies we deserve
07/27/06 How long will U.S. empire last?

© 2006, The Philadelphia Inquirer. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.