Semi-Daily Journal Archive

The Blogspot archive of the weblog of J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics and Chair of the PEIS major at U.C. Berkeley, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Republicans Eat Their Young!

Dana Mlbank's "Washington Sketch" sketches Washington D.C. on Wednesday, and watches Bush say that he was making a change in response to what the voters said--firing Rumsfeld--that he was going to do anyway, "win or lose":

Dana Milbank - The Thumpees Try Their Luck at the Blame Game - President Bush had many explanations for what he called the "thumping" his party took on Tuesday, but the most creative was the notion that his chief strategist, Karl Rove, had spent too much time reading books.

"I obviously was working harder on the campaign than he was," the president said at yesterday's East Room news conference. The reporters laughed. The Architect, who had challenged Bush to a reading contest, wore a sheepish grin and stared at his lap....

The president, who started his appearance with an admission that "I share a large part of the responsibility," went on to blame everybody else.... [C]orruption: "People want their congressmen to be honest and ethical, so in some races that was the primary factor."... Mark Foley, whose name remained on the Florida ballot: "People couldn't vote directly for the Republican candidate."... [B]allot rules. "You could have the greatest positions in the world... but to try to get to win on a write-in is really hard to do."... [B]ad luck: "If you look at race by race, it was close."... Donald Rumsfeld, by firing him as defense secretary.... And, not least, he blamed the uncomprehending voters: "I thought when it was all said and done, the American people would understand the importance of taxes and the importance of security. But the people have spoken, and now it's time for us to move on."...

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, the party's bantam rooster, barely waited until sunrise to start crowing. In a morning news conference at the National Press Club, he stood with hands in his pants pockets and used the word "extraordinary" nine times and "huge" 12 times.... Republicans were equally determined to show their disunity. While Dean spoke, conservative leaders held dueling news conferences in other rooms at the press club. Their theme: Blame the party, not us. "This was not a repudiation of conservatives," said Pat Toomey, a former GOP congressman. "It was a rejection of the Republican Party." At the rival conservative event across the hall, Richard Viguerie was condemning "the failed big-government policies of President Bush."

GOP officials pointed the finger elsewhere. On Fox News, Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman said the party's vaunted turnout operation works only "in the very close races." Rep. Tom Reynolds (N.Y.), who led House Republicans' campaign efforts, said more Republicans could have won -- if they had acted more like him. "Just take a look at my race," he suggested....

Bush was trying to tone down the rhetoric from the campaign, when he said the Democratic "approach comes down to this: The terrorists win, and America loses."... But he seemed unsure how much to concede.... He said he was "making a change" at the Pentagon to respond to the voters, but he also said he was going to sack Rumsfeld "win or lose."

And Michael Grunwald:

Republicans' Angry Factions Point Fingers At Each Other - After minutes upon minutes of soul-searching, Republicans are now in recrimination mode. And the GOP's various factions all agree: This wouldn't have happened if the party had listened to us.... [M]oderate Republicans quickly concluded that the party needs to be more moderate. Conservative Republicans declared that it should be more conservative. Main Street is angry at Wall Street, theo-cons are angry at neo-cons, and almost everyone is angry at President Bush and the GOP congressional leadership.... Rumsfeld and... Hastert... agreed to step down.... Frist (R-Tenn.) had already decided to leave Congress, but GOP insiders said Tuesday's debacle should eliminate him from presidential contention in 2008.

By day's end, Republican fingers had pointed at every conceivable Republican scapegoat: ex-representative Mark Foley of Florida and his scandal-plagued colleagues, Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, presidential adviser Karl Rove, even Sen. John McCain of Arizona.... GOP lobbyist Ed Rogers.... "Look, bad policy and bad politics makes for bad elections."


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