March 25, 2005

Conviction; or Base Shoring?

From the NYT (admitedly eager to paint Jebbie as a bible-thumping maniac hot on the '08 tip)

Gov. Jeb Bush's last-minute intervention in the case of Terri Schiavo, even after the president had ended his own effort to keep her alive, may have so far failed in a legal sense, but it has cemented the religious and social conservative credentials of a man whose political pedigree is huge and whose political future remains a subject of intense speculation.

But what would Prescott say? Perhaps--why are you involved in this cheap circus grandson? Keep your hands off her feeding tube and return to normally scheduled gubernatorial duties. The pilgrimage of the Bushies from Prescott-era Greenwich/Brown Brothers Harriman-Wall Street establishment to Bush 41 (Andover/Yale/WWII vet but still feeling the need to hit the TX oil fields to show he had some, er, manliness) to Bush 43 (San Jacinto High pre-Andover!) showcases a well known story. Population centers are moving south and west--and the Republican party is getting more 'values' and bible-belt oriented. All well and good--but these DeLayian spectacles are a bit much to swallow, no? Still, I agree with Jonah that this will not have long-term negative ramifications for the party. Just another little affaire info-tainment to boost the ratings--it will be forgotten like so much else emitting from the moronic inferno (Martin Amis' phrase) before it...

Posted by Gregory at March 25, 2005 04:35 AM | TrackBack (8)

Once again, as one of your icky lefty readers: thank you, Greg :-)

Posted by: B.R. at March 25, 2005 05:37 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The Invasion of the Politicians in the Schiavo case should not cause damage to the Republican Party, but it does reflect some of the damage it has already suffered.

The national leadership of the party did not hesitate, did not blink, before plunging into a situation adequately dealt with by the laws, courts and political institutions of the state of Florida. It made no effort to camouflage its desired outcome -- arbitrary federal court intervention to order a state to do something the state's own courts had considered for years and at length had decided not to do anymore.

There was no principle here, no care for policy or doctrine or due process. The leaders of an organized interest group went to Bill Frist, Tom DeLay and George Bush commanding "do this," and received instant obedience. DeLay at least had a visible ulterior motive -- a few days of newspaper stories that did not have both his name and Jack Abramoff's in them -- and Bush may have just wanted to demonstrate that something could make him cut short a vacation. I know I was surprised to see that.

But in Frist's eyes you could just see the yearning to be told what to do and what to say. From a campaign consultant's point of view an incident like this looks like pure gold -- the passionate activists will love a guy who jumps onto their side with no questions asked, while the people on the other side are less engaged and can be won over later. And the political consultant's point of view is Bill Frist's point of view, because he wants to be President, and sees the road to the White House beginning with enthusiasm from "the base."

I haven't seen so much eagerness to be ordered around from a grown man since the Democratic Presidential primary in Iowa last year. The problem for Republicans in this kind of behavior is one that Democrats have been dealing with for a generation now -- it is brutally hard, once you've shown you will do anything specific interest groups tell you to, to be seen as a strong leader. John Kerry, Michael Dukakis, Walter Mondale, meet Bill Frist.

Posted by: Zathras at March 25, 2005 04:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This stunt will aliinate-- already has alienated-- those Bush voters like myself who have no interest in his religious agenda and care mainly about national security. I'd estimate that there were at least 1 million, perhaps as many as 1.5 million, moderate Dems who split their tickets last Nov. and voted for Bush. Net-net, Schiavo is a huge boost for Hillary or any other centrist Dem smart enough to avoid the screamers on both sides.

My 1-1.5m Dem split-ticket voters estimate's an extrapolation from New York City's results: Bush increased his NYC vote by 100,000 in 2004, whereas Kerry's total fell by 50,000 relative to Gore's 2000 vote total. Certainly the same phenomenon occurred in other major metro areas, so the national total of Dems for Bush was probably at least 10 times NYC's 100,000 and perhaps 15x.

Posted by: thibaud at March 25, 2005 08:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As to the demographic shift, yes, it's now a sunbelt nation, but the crucial battleground for national elections is not the southern bible belt but the high-growth rocky mountain states: Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico in particular, perhaps also Arizona. All of these states have seen a high influx of three demographic groups:

1) liberal or libertarian professionals fleeing California and the east coast in search of lower taxes, better quality of life and/or better economic opportunities after the internet meltdown;

2) fundamentalists also fleeing So. Calif and other places (COlorado Springs is now a huge center for evangelical ministries);

3) hispanics.

The Republicans have a lock on #2 but will almost certainly lose #1 with their Schiavo Schenanigans.

The crucial group, for 2008 and beyond, is hispanics. This is the group that no one in the east coast establishment in either party or the media has bothered to try to understand on its own terms. Whoever can lock up this group will dominate the rocky mountain swing states as well as Texas and California, ie, will win the White House in 2008.

Posted by: thibaud at March 25, 2005 08:11 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think you miss the significance of this case to the right wing Greg. First, I think its unfair to say this is not a sincere reaction to what they - and Jeb - see as an injustice. Second, it ties into the most potent domestic issue motivating the right - an out of control, elitist judiciary usurping power from the elected branches. Madison described the judiciary as the least dangerous branch, but arrogant, in-your-face decisions like these drive people bonkers. Remember the Florida Supreme Court in Bush v Gore? Why should "hypertechnical" reliance on the statutes control their decision? They knew Gore deserved to win so they were going to move the goalposts after the final whistle. Have you not seen some of the more egregious child custody cases in recent years, where a 3/4/5 year old child is yanked from a loving home and "returned" to the drug addict mom that abandoned it? This issue is going to dominate the news in the next few years because the Republican voters want judges to represent the mainstream of public opinion, not the mainstream of the law school faculty lounge. Ask Tom Daschle if this is not a real issue.

Posted by: wayne at March 27, 2005 02:18 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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