Friday, November 21, 2003


Given the Senate's rejection of the energy bill and what looks like trouble ahead for the Medicare prescription drug bill, is the Bush Coalition beginning to fray? Bush has been masterful up until now in keeping the two divergent conservative wings in line. However, as trouble in Iraq continues to grow and the economy continues to trudge along without creating jobs, there is a bit of disease among the conservative faithful. Fiscal conservatives have made known their disagreements with Bush Co's brand of Big Government conservatism, but 9/11 and the Iraq war had provided Bush with an opportunity to rally the faithful around common enemies (Al Qaeda, Saddam and anti-war liberals).

It would now seem that many of the folks who believe in fiscal sanity are growing restless. To some degree this may have been inevitable, for fiscal hawks view the world with green eye shade and have proven easy to distract for a long period of time. The administrations huge giveaways to large businesses and its willingness to dabble in protectionism for votes is anathema to true believers.

But what does this all mean for 2004? It is hard to see fiscal hawks running to the polling booths for some of the Democratic contenders. However, Howard Dean or Wes Clark may be able to get some traction. More importantly though, is whether this has any potential blowback for the House and Senate. Interestingly enough, I see very little potential to parlay this into gain for Congressional Democrats. Moderate and fiscal conservative Republicans have broken ranks with the White House in a way that would insulate them from Democratic attacks.

The one issue, though, on which an unraveling GOP might be united is gay marriage. There are only so many limited government, fiscal hawks like Andrew Sullivan. If the Rove gang frames the issue in the right way, they can bring the fiscal conservatives, who harbor some social conservatism, back into the White House's drill line. It will get very interesting between now and November 2004.

(Query- What does it say about Bush Co. that the RNC is airing ads to defend him?)


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