Vandehei and Baker, I hope, meant this to be funny. If they did, they deserve a miniature Colbert Award:
Confronting the worst poll numbers seen in the West Wing since his father went down to defeat, President Bush and his team are focusing on the fall midterm elections as the best chance to salvage his presidency and are building a campaign strategy around tax cuts, immigration and national security.
Translation: "President Bush and his team are focusing on the fall midterm elections as the best chance to salvage his presidency and are building a campaign strategy around fat cats, racism and fear mongering." Well, it’s nice to see them replay their greatest hits. The macarena never gets old, either. Bring back the orange terror alert!
Modern history offers no precedent of a president climbing from a hole as deep as the one Bush finds himself in, and White House strategists have concluded that no staff shake-up or other quick fix will alter their trajectory. In the sixth year of his tenure, they said, Bush cannot easily change the minds of voters whose impressions are fully formed.
Translation: They’re in deep cowshit.
And so short of some event outside their direct control — such as a dramatic turnaround in Iraq or the capture of Osama bin Laden — Bush advisers have turned to the election as the most important chance to rewrite the troubled narrative of his presidency and allow him to recover enough to govern his last two years, Republican strategists said. With that in mind, Bush last week called on the National Guard to help stop illegal immigrants, signed tax-cut legislation and headlined three party fundraisers.
Translation: Their only chance is to dig deeper into the black raging racist heart of modern conservatism and Nixon’s Southern Strategy to placate white folks terrified of the brown horde. No troops for Canucks! (Please make your check to. . .)
If Republicans retain Congress in November, Bush advisers note, he could assert that for the third straight election, the party defied historical patterns and popular predictions. Bush, they said, could advance a fresh agenda in early 2007. But they acknowledge that a House takeover by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) would foreshadow a contentious final two years fending off congressional subpoenas and hostile legislation.
"If she’s not the speaker, then conceptually I think we’ve turned this thing around and he has two more years to get some things done," said Ron Kaufman, who was White House political director under George H.W. Bush and remains close to the former president. A Republican loss of the House, on the other hand, "makes the next two years that much more difficult."
Translation: Prison sucks. Women are scary.
Bush has turned his attention to the campaign. Six months before the election, he has made 36 fundraising appearances, more than at this point in 2002. He spoke at a party gala last week that broke off-year records for hard-money fundraising and later attended events in Virginia and Kentucky. Vice President Cheney has been even more active, making 62 fundraising appearances, including one in Nashville on Saturday, and he plans three more in California in the next couple of days.
Translation: Legal fees really suck. Fucking trial lawyers!
With Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove reassigned from day-to-day policy management to concentrate on the fall campaign, the White House has begun setting an agenda. Bush focused on stopping illegal immigration with his National Guard plan announced in an Oval Office address last week, followed a few days later by a visit to the border. In between, he signed legislation extending $70 billion in tax cuts that he has made a signature issue on the campaign trail.
Translation: "With Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove reassigned from day-to-day policy management to concentrate on saving his pasty round ass, the White House has begun watching screenings of Birth of a Nation in hopes of a miracle." Preemptive federal payments ("tax cuts") to legal defense donors can’t hurt, either!
To address conservatives, who have been key to his election victories but have grown disenchanted with the administration, Bush and Senate Republicans are reviving their fight with Democrats over judicial nominations, and senators last week voted out of committee a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage to set up a floor vote next month.
Because you can never go wrong calling Democrats sissies. Right, Ken?
This article is totally killing me . . . Vandehei and Baker, yew guyz rawk! I don’t want to reprint the whole thing, but the next few paragraphs include some hilarious screwball stenography from Unka Karl’s dictaphone, followed by this gem:
Recent staff changes orchestrated by new White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten have not proved to be an elixir. Aides who once talked of a "Bolten bounce" now anticipate a long, difficult summer. Although these aides believe Bolten has brought new energy and a more aggressive day-to-day approach — and bought Bush some goodwill with Congress — they believe it will take a long time for the public to notice.
Translation: The last time we rolled out our strategy to rebound, it flopped. Again. But we’ll try some more, because, hey, there’s a sucker born every minute, right? Maybe someone in America is left who has not been paying attention. . . please? Go get ’em, Snowjob!
Another juicy nugget:
"The president’s run into a perfect political storm where the confluence of natural disasters from last fall, gasoline prices, staff changes, the continuing war in Iraq, all are giving conservatives a defensive fatigue," said Kenneth Khachigian, a California GOP strategist who served in Ronald Reagan’s White House. "And let’s put immigration in there, too. . . . There’s just wave after wave washing over them at this point."
Ed Rogers, a prominent Republican strategist, offered similar advice. "We need less panic among Republicans in town and on the Hill and to some degree in the states, and more energy from the White House," he said. "Use the Rose Garden, sign some executive orders. Activity is our friend." But time may not be, some Republicans say. "Opinions do begin to set in . . . so we need successes now," said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.).
Waaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!! Well, maybe they can go on a woodlands retreat with Robert Bly to rediscover their manly mojo, eh? Bring your shotgun, Dick!
But here comes what may be my favorite part: the coup de grace from none other than Newt:
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) offered a novel model for recovery: Bill Clinton. In 1995, after Gingrich’s Republicans took over Congress, the White House rebuilt public support methodically. "He split with the left, he moved to the center, he did dozens of little things that worked, and gradually, week by week, he grew more acceptable," Gingrich said.
"You get to the point where you have to take a very deep breath and rethink what you’re doing," he said of Bush. "He’s still president, and he’s got 2 1/2 years left. It’s very important not just to him but to the country" that he recover authority.
That’s it, the model for saving the GOP. Punch line of all punch lines. James Dobson, I give you (drumroll, please!) the Man from Hope. You can take Peter Beinart, Joe Klein and Rape Gurney Joe with you, too.
Good times, man. I’m gonna drink a shot to Vandehei and Baker. Best laughs I’ve had all day.
And oh yeah: Go, Ned!
UPDATE: Rape Gurney Joe emerges from the bunker. Great stuff. What a WATB! Still won’t rule out an Independent run. The wet sound you just heard came from the seat of Schumer’s chair. Go read it.