Political Poison Pills

… fiscal policies of a Republican president that brought on the Great Depression, that the Republican Party was owned by the “robber barons” of Wall Street, and that Republicans were the enemies of working men and women… the “common” man.

It was all a big lie, but for the poor and the working classes, anxious to receive more and more government handouts or envious of those with wealth and economic security, it was a believable lie. It was a poison pill that would define the Republican Party for more than half a century.

But the most devastating poison pills of all are those that are self-administered… the most damaging in recent years being administered by George H.W. Bush and his son, George W. Bush, and the lethal dose that Barack Obama now represents for the Democrat Party.

George H.W. Bush was not a man to inspire confidence among conservatives. It was only among members of the moderate wing of the GOP that he inspired any real excitement. Conservatives were convinced that, should he ever ascend to the presidency, he would be a one-term president.

When author Gail Sheehy was preparing her article, “Is George Bush Too Nice to be President” for the October 1986 edition of Vanity Fair, she interviewed more than forty of his closest friends, senior aides, and family members. She asked each of them the same set of questions, one of which was, “Exactly what is it that George Bush feels passionate about?”

Oddly, no one, not even his own wife, had a ready response. After pondering the question for several moments they all came up with equally lame responses such as: “Peace,” “Justice,” or “Fairness” – as if anyone would be opposed to peace, justice, and fairness.

After his election, Bush made a concerted effort to bring federal spending under control. However, saddled with a Democratic Congress he received little congressional cooperation. Ultimately, he agreed to participate in an “economic summit” on neutral ground at Andrews Air Force Base. At that meeting, Bush agreed to a number of targeted tax increases… mostly federal user fees, etc… while the Democrats agreed to substantial cuts in federal spending. They all shook hands on the deal and everyone went away happy.

When the tax increases arrived on Bush’s desk he signed them into law and, naively, sat back to await the spending cuts. Of course, Democrats being Democrats, the spending cuts never materialized. However, after snookering Bush into the one-way deal, they added insult to injury by using his 1988 “Read my lips! No new taxes!” pledge to defeat him for reelection in 1992.

It was a “poison pill” that came to define the Bush presidency and it came as no surprise to conservatives. Not once did Bush use the Democrats’ duplicity to defend himself. Then, after nominating David Souter as an associate justice to the Supreme Court… a man who might easily have been an Obama nominee… his credibility suffered yet another severe blow and the public perception of the Republican Party suffered, as well.

As the last of their generation of national Republican leaders, George Bush and Bob Dole had an obligation to showcase the next generation of national Republican leaders. But they didn’t do that. Bush gave us Dan Quayle and his son, George W., and Dole gave us Jack Kemp.

In 2000, the Republican “establishment” engineered the nomination of Texas Governor George W. Bush, a man about whom we knew very little. We knew that he was very short on preparation for the presidency; he was not well read; he was not a student of history, philosophy, or government; he did not think well on his feet; he spoke in four or five word phrases; he was minimally conversant in national and international affairs; he refused to deny that he had ever used cocaine; and he insulted every conservative in the country by referring to himself as a “compassionate” conservative – as if conservatism has not always been the soul of compassion.

As president, he was a strong and resolute leader in time of war and, unlike his father, he was not afraid to surround himself with men and women more experienced and more capable than himself. However, he failed miserably in his most solemn responsibility, that of defending our borders against foreign invasion.

Bush entered the White House in January 2001 with the opportunity to do great things, not only for the people of

America, but for the Republican Party as well. He performed well in the global War on Terror and he made two exceptional appointments to the Supreme Court… with the inexplicable Harriet Myers fiasco sandwiched in between. Unlike his father, who contributed David Souter to the Court, George W. left the Court more conservative than he found it.

Having worked cooperatively with Democrats in

Austin during his years as Governor, Bush was under the misapprehension that he could do the same in

Washington. Unfortunately, he had not stared evil in the face until he met the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Bush apparently felt that Reid would be very much like other Mormons: kind, decent, and honorable. It did not occur to him that Harry Reid was living proof that even rattlesnakes can be Mormons.

And although he enjoyed Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, he was plagued by incompetent congressional leadership… particularly in the House of Representatives where Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-TX) presided over a GOP majority that worked very hard at making themselves indistinguishable from Democrats. In refusing to use his veto pen to stem the Republican spending binge, he seemed oblivious to the notion that he had an obligation to enforce traditional Republican principles of government.

When Bush ran for reelection in 2004, CBS News anchor Dan Rather attempted to damage him with forged documents purporting to show that he had avoided service in

Vietnam by enlisting in the Texas Air National Guard. Now, in 2009, five years later, we learn for the first time that he had, in fact, volunteered for service in

Vietnam but was turned down because he didn’t have enough flying hours. When he was being torn apart by Democrats and the mainstream media he apparently found that information to be irrelevant.

During Democratic administrations, few major decisions are ever made without first considering what is best for the party. During the Bush years the fortunes of the party that elected them were rarely, if ever, a consideration. And when the political rough-and-tumble demanded toughness… an eye for an eye… there was no fight in them. When faced with the vicious hostility of the Democratic opposition they simply smiled and turned the other cheek. Because of the weak-kneed leadership of the Bushes, father and son, and because of the incompetent and self-serving leadership of men such as Dennis Hastert and Tom Delay, we now find ourselves with a party that not even the most ardent Republican partisan can defend.

But now it appears certain that Barack Obama is preparing to administer a poison pill to the Democratic Party that is even more deadly than what the Bushes have prescribed for the GOP.

Obama campaigned for the presidency on three primary platforms: 1) He promised to bring “fairness” to our tax system, stem the outflow of jobs to overseas markets, restructure the mortgage lending industry, and bring stability to financial markets, 2) He promised to develop clean, renewable sources of energy, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create millions of new “green” jobs, and 3) He promised to reform our overly expensive healthcare system, making quality healthcare more readily available, at reduced cost, for every American.

His first major effort was a $787 billion economic stimulus package that is quickly proving to have been unnecessary. When the American people realized that the true purpose of the stimulus was to enrich Democratic constituencies at taxpayer expense, he backed away from the stimulus and proceeded to push cap-and-trade legislation… the most destructive piece of legislation ever to come out of the Congress. And when voters found that his radical environmental proposals could cost them as much as $3,000 per family, per year, he moved on to healthcare reform.

Now, as congressional Democrats struggle to write legislation that will meet all of Obama’s impossible and unrealistic criteria, the Administration finds itself in full panic mode. They are confronted by the sad fact that, if congressional Democrats push through a healthcare package similar to what Obama has promised, a great many of them will be defeated in 2010. If congressional Democrats are paying any attention at all to the intensity of the tea parties and the town hall meetings, they can be expected to reject Obama’s healthcare fantasies.

One pundit has said that “Democrats in Congress will pass (Obama’s healthcare reform) because they must. Otherwise, they'll have slain their own savior in his first year in office.” No and yes. Given the choice between saving themselves and sacrificing Obama, they’ll sacrifice Obama.

When Obamacare fails, and it will, Obama runs the risk of being the first three-year lame duck president in history. Having squandered whatever goodwill he enjoyed before taking up the healthcare issue, his low approval ratings will prevent him from returning to the rest of his radical agenda, while Democrats in Congress face all but certain disaster in the 2010 elections.

Having gained power just months ago, Obama and congressional Democrats, are now a train wreck waiting to happen. That being said, wouldn’t it be nice if we had a viable Republican Party that the people would trust to take up the mantle of leadership? But we don’t. The last two Republican presidents, in concert with a generation of reckless and undisciplined Republicans in Congress, have seen to that.

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