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Republicans in Touch With the Base Saved Bush Again

In today’s New York Post, John Podhoretz notes that the White House has again been saved by congressional republicans who were willing to listen to their constituents, especially their base.

Bush-oppenents (and many political commentators) are sure that this recent GOP fight with it’s President cements Bush’s lame-duck status (or soon-to-be lame-duck status). They believe Bush’s plans can’t be achieved because no one in the party wants to stand with him. Podhoretz counters:

Surely, his enemies say, this is curtains for Bush. Republicans are fleeing from him, he can’t keep his troops in line – and he can’t work his will. He’s become a lame duck, they say.

Wrong. Just as with his last serious political miscalculation, Bush has actually been saved by the very forces in his own governing coalition that are opposing him.

The last time Bush was saved by Republicans willing to do the right thing and stand up to the administration was during the Harriet Miers debacle. More Podhoretz:

When the President foolishly nominated the clearly unqualified Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court, conservative intellectuals and pundits were so relentlessly negative that they forced him to withdraw Miers’ name and appoint Samuel Alito in her place. That move simultaneously helped reenergize and calm a key part of the Bush coalition.

Republicans in Congress did Bush an even bigger favor. The president may have been right on the economic and foreign-policy merits of allowing the government-owned Dubai Ports World to manage stevedore operations inside the United States. But he was clearly wrong when it came not only to the politics of the deal, but also to its symbolic significance in the midst of the War on Terror.

Hoping it’s not too late for Bush to regain the trust of the American people, I note Podhoretz’s comment regarding the implications of the UAE in November:

Republicans have made certain that a few months from now most Americans will barely remember the whole business, which really did threaten the continued viability of his presidency.

More important, the public reaction to the ports deal indicates that the American people are still very much committed to the War on Terror. They understand that Arab nations of the Persian Gulf cannot be and should not be deemed reliable colleagues in our struggle against militant, extremist Islam.

What should conservatives, and particularly the GOP, learn from this episode. First, the American people still are passionate about the War on Terror. Second, and most importantly, if the Republican Party wants to remain in charge, they had best act like Republicans: their base cares . . . a lot.

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