On election night 2004, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) boasted: “The Republican Party is a permanent majority for the future of this country. . . . We are going to be able to lead this country in the direction we’ve been dreaming of for years.”
Wash Post: Free Reg

Well, ahem, not so fast Bugman. John F. Harris and Jim VandeHei, of the Washington Post, examine the lack of a real mandate for Bush’s second term agenda:

The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll showed support for Bush’s handling of Social Security at just 31 percent. That is several points lower than support for Clinton’s handling of health care in the summer of 1994 — just before the failure of what was widely perceived as an over-ambitious plan helped fuel the GOP takeover of Congress that fall.

A recent analysis by Democracy Corps, which offers polling and strategy to Democrats, concluded, “Voters have not yet turned to the Democrats as an instrument of change, but when they do, there can be electoral changes on a very large scale.”

Tom DeLay is a crook. Everybody knows that. The only question is whether it is permissible to be a crook in the current political climate in Washington. It might well be that it is now perfectly acceptable to be a serial violator of House Ethics Rules, and still retain your position as the Majority Leader. But, that is going to change.

DeLay is not helped by the bungled packaging of Bush’s second-term agenda by Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and White House director of strategic initiatives Peter Wehner:

Bush signaled from the moment of his reelection that he was not contemplating a conventional second term.

Instead…he settled on a bolder-is-better strategy. The rationale, according to White House aides, is that most second-term presidents tend to lose their policymaking leverage quickly. This dictated moving quickly and decisively — to ensure that Bush remained the dominant figure setting Washington’s agenda and to take full advantage of a narrow window.

By this reckoning, White House aides say, Social Security is a natural issue, because it shows Bush taking on a problem that most politicians had timidly avoided, and it could turn retirement security — political turf owned for decades by Democrats — into a Republican issue.

Even among many influential conservatives, there has been a growing consensus that the Bush governing theory, at least on Social Security, has been proved wrong. The conservative Weekly Standard magazine recently warned in a headline of a “Social Security Quagmire,” and argued that Bush should position himself so that a defeat on the issue does not cripple other parts of his agenda or produce big Republican losses in next year’s congressional elections.

The American people have forgiven an unforgivable amount of governmental malfeasance from the Bush administration. But it will not continue. The war in Iraq is not going well, or improving substantially. Bush’s and DeLay’s bold predictions about how the election had shifted the political landscape have not borne out. Their legislative agenda is every bit as unpopular as Bill Clinton’s 1993-4 agenda. The Republican leadership has grown as entrenched, ossified and corrupt as the Democrats had in Dan Rostenkowski’s time.

In short, the natural cycle is going back around to the top, and the Republicans will have to rely on safe seats and electoral disenfranchisement to minimize their coming losses.

Look for new ruptures in the Republican caucus, as moderates seek cover from an increasingly discredited leadership, that is increasingly out-of-touch with their constituents.

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