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DevinDNC Donating Member (80 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-05-04 09:50 AM
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Senior Republicans are worried about Bush losing in November
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The following is a Newsweek article on how the Republican leadership is worried about Kerry beating Bush

Panic on the Hill

Republicans are reassessing Bushs leadership skillsand confronting the idea that he could lose the November election
WEB EXCLUSIVE
By Eleanor Clift
Newsweek
Updated: 4:44 p.m. ET May 21, 2004May 21 - Like the movie, "No Way Out," Iraq can only get worse; it can't get better. Gen. John Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command, said as much when he testified this week before the Senate Armed Services Committee that the violence would increase after the June 30 handover and that the Iraqis won't be ready to assume responsibility for security until April 2005.


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Who is President Bush kidding when he talks of turning over sovereignty to the Iraqis? No one yet has been identified to give power to, and the Pentagon's love affair with Iraqi exile leader Ahmad Chalabi is over. American troops stormed Chalabi's residence and offices in Baghdad, a remarkable reversal of fortune for a man who was on the U.S. payroll until this month, and who provided most of the phony intelligence that formed the Bush administration's basis for war.


The Bush juggernaut looks like the Keystone Cops. What's going on would be pure farce, except it's tragedy because so many people are dying. Missiles slam into what Iraqis said was a wedding ceremony, leaving women and children among the dead. Israel is going crazy in the Gaza Strip, bulldozing Palestinian homes and shooting into a crowd of peaceful demonstrators. At home, gas prices are rising to an all-time high and in Canton, Ohio, a steel plant that Bush touted as a model last year announced it was closing, costing another 1,300 jobs in a state that has already lost 170,000 in the manufacturing sector.


Surveying the wreckage, an aide to a prominent Senate Republican termed it a "perfect storm of bad events."


ELEANOR CLIFT Current Column | Archives
Clift: GOP Reassesses Bush Leadership
Republicans are reassessing Bushs leadership skillsand confronting the idea that he could lose the November election
Why Bush Needs to Woo Women Back
Bush is falling further behind among womenand it could cost him come election time

It came home to Republicans this week in a way it hasn't before that Bush could lose in November. The disarray is not only about Iraq, where it's particularly vicious, but spills over into budget negotiations and court appointments, where Bush's conservative base is turning up the heat on wobbly Republicans. The high anxiety was evident when the normally genial House speaker, Denny Hastert, had the gall to question whether Arizona Sen. John McCain understood the meaning of sacrifice during wartime. "Is he a Republican?" Hastert snidely asked, before suggesting McCain might want to visit some of the wounded if he didn't think Americans were making sacrifices.


What prompted Hastert's outburst was McCain's insistence on spending restraints to pay for future tax cuts, as opposed to simply running up the deficit. Where is the sacrifice, McCain asked, pointing out that no war president has cut taxes while defense costs are mounting. Considering that McCain spent five years as a POW in Vietnam, Hastert's remarks were particularly impolitic. "He better watch it or he'll turn our ticket," chuckled a Democratic strategist, keeping in play the notion that McCain might become John Kerry's running mate.


That won't happen. The gulf on issues is too great, and McCain's party loyalty too strong. But keeping the hope alive sends a signal to Republican moderates that Kerry is acceptable should they bolt from Bush.


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Madam President: Shattering the Last Glass Ceiling
by Eleanor Clift




What's going on is a reassessment of Bush's leadership. It's not the first time. Before the terrorist attacks, Bush was widely seen as lacking, a genial caretaker with no agenda beyond cutting taxes, a likely one-termer. After 9/11, voters saw him in a different light, and Bush's handlers have worked hard to prop up the man to match the myth. "Now they're re-evaluating the re-evaluation," says a Republican strategist. "People, particularly women, are reassessing, and what looked resolute and decisive now looks wrongheaded."


Bush is the first president to hold an M.B.A., and the streamlined way he runs the White House and makes decisions won him praiseespecially in contrast to his predecessor. Bill Clinton's White House was more like a graduate-school seminar with issues endlessly debated and discussed, and decisions rarely made in a timely way.


Now Bush's management style is under fire just as Ronald Reagan's was after the Iran-contra scandal broke. The week the country learned the Reagan administration was secretly trading arms for hostages in Iran, and that Reagan was allegedly unaware members of his staff were diverting money from the arms deal to fund a rebel uprising in Central America, Reagan appeared on the cover of Fortune as a model CEO. In a similar awakening, The Wall Street Journal this week observed that the traits that mark Bush's leadershipreliance on a small group of trusted advisors, equating dissent with disloyalty and never admitting a mistakemay not be the right mix given the combustible issues Bush faces.


There is panic on the Hill among Republicans because if the bottom falls out of the Bush campaign, they could lose the Senate. Except for the seat of retiring Democrat Zell Miller in Georgia, which will be an easy pick-up for the GOP, Democratic victories are within reach in both Carolinas, Louisiana and Florida, as well as Oklahoma, Colorado and Illinois. "If it wasn't for the rape of Texas, the House would be in play," says a Democratic strategist, referring to the redistricting pushed through by the GOP that ensures them an additional five seats.


Granted, it's early and a lot can happen. But a Senate Republican said the week's events convinced him there won't be a Bush landslide. "And if Bush narrowly wins, think how acrid the political atmosphere will be." If Kerry wins, Iraq becomes his war, and he'll have to answer the question he posed more than three decades ago: how do you ask the last man to die for a mistake?

2004 Newsweek, Inc.
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