Things are not going well for the Republicans. From Newsweek:
More Americans still disapprove of the president’s handling of problems caused by Rita than approve (49 percent vs. 42 percent.) And, across the board, most of his most visible policies only pull the support of a third of the country: on the economy, 35 percent approve; on Iraq, 33 percent; on energy policy, 28 percent.
More worrisome still, the base that provides the floor to the president’s support are critical of their own party these days. For instance, a 49-percent plurality of Republicans says their party is “too close to oil companies” and a 53-percent majority says it’s “too close to big business.”
And the GOP politicos are starting to feel the heat. Here’s a selection of quotes from this morning’s New York Times.
“It’s been a difficult week, I’m not going to sugarcoat it,” said Representative David Dreier, the chairman of the Rules Committee, who has assumed new duties in the reshuffling.
Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York and chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, agreed. “You get your job done,” he said. “You can’t panic. Even though our poll numbers are going down, there’s no great love for the Democrats, no great support.”
“The Republican Party has taken some real body blows and is on the ropes right now,” said Tim Pawlenty, the Republican governor of Minnesota. Because of recent events, he added, “Democrats basically have been keeping their mouth shut and watching as the Republicans kind of implode.”
Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, argued that the Republican Party needed to acknowledge the governmental failures in responding to Hurricane Katrina and outline a broad agenda for change. As the party in charge, “We had better be the leader of changing it until it works or we will legitimately be fired as failures,” he said.
Other Republicans argued that the political times demanded a little soul-searching. Representative Chris Shays, a Republican moderate from Connecticut, said that the Republican Congress “needed to do a better job of oversight” of the executive branch. “We are not a parliament,” he said.
And John C. Danforth, a moderate and former Republican senator from Missouri, argued that the times “call for the Republican Party to recapture the middle of the political spectrum and to do a better job of emphasizing that.”
Perhaps Nancy Pelosi sums it up best:
“Republicans are blinded by their culture of cronyism and corruption,” said Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader. “They’re crumbling, arrogantly protecting their power.”
And Nancy is not alone. It’s just that GOP members aren’t willing to go on the record.
Some backbenchers were gloomy and resentful, but unwilling to say so on the record, for fear that the vindictive DeLay might survive. “Leadership has become ossified and hopelessly out of touch,” lamented one such member. “They only care about one thing, hanging onto their own power. I’m not ready to take them on, at least not yet, not unless I have to!”
Is it 2006 yet?