Sunday, November 07, 2004


To understand the climate and territorial imperatives in Washington D.C. today, take a look back at April 1974.

Richard Milhous Nixon had stunned the Establishment. A man elected with barely 43% of the Popular Vote in 1968, who seemed unable to proceed with anything not supported by both the Republican Party leadership and the majority of the House and Senate (both dominated by Democrats), Nixon had managed to end the war in Vietnam, establish the Environmental Protection Agency, reach critical new agreements with both the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China, and survive a recession without significant consequences. In his re-election bid in 1972, Nixon took more than 60% of the Popular Vote and all but one state in the Electoral Vote. Nixon had centralized Federal power in the White House beyond the dreams of most Presidents, and certainly far beyond the expectations of any Congressional Republican or Democrat. The Congress, to put it plainly, did not like this balance one bit.

While the excesses of the Nixon Administration are clearly inexcusable, it bears noting that Nixon may reasonably be compared to Lyndon Johnson or Bill Clinton in his arrogance of power, yet neither LBJ nor Clinton was ever in significant danger of losing their office (yes, Clinton was impeached, but even a number of Republicans in the Senate said they were not sure about voting for conviction. In the event, less than half the Senate voted to convict Clinton). The difference, among other factors, was that both Johnson and Clinton made sure to mend fences in key relationships, while Nixon took on all opponents full-bore.

Many Democrats might like to compare the characters of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush, but there is no such similarity. However, just like Nixon, then Reagan, Dubya finds himself in time of rising power at his hand. If he is careless in his positions, then challenges like the one shot by Arlen "Benedict Arnold" Specter will be repeated, but if Bush is careful to build his coalition and make clear that the heart of the GOP comes from his support (remember the effect of Bush campaigning in 2002, and the coat-tails acknowledged even by Dan Rather this year), then the President may proceed to accomplish more lasting effect than any Republican President in a century.

It's not only the Democrats who need to look at that Election results map by County, and note that the title is "Bush Country".

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