Patterico's Pontifications


Picking a Fight with Your Own Party is Not Top-Notch Strategy

Filed under: Judiciary,Politics — Patterico @ 8:52 am

This comment by Kevin Murphy deserves its own post:

So, let me get this straight: Bush wanted to avoid a fight with Democrats, so he picked one with Republicans?

I keep hearing that Bush made a good move by dodging a fight with Senate Democrats. Those making this claim need to open their eyes and look at the fight he picked with major elements of his own party.

This wasn’t great strategic thinking any more than Harriet Miers is the best pick for the Court.

UPDATE: Black Jack notes in the comments that it would be more accurate to say that Bush “blundered” into this fight. While I wouldn’t put it past him to deliberately choose alienating his base (which always forgives him) over provoking Democrats, I do tend to think that this was a blunder. I didn’t mean to suggest otherwise in the post. The point of the post is to respond to those who think it was a brilliant strategic move.

10 Responses to “Picking a Fight with Your Own Party is Not Top-Notch Strategy”

  1. The notion that Bush picked Miers to spite his own base has got to be the dumbest argument I’ve heard on either side of the Miers controversy to date, but FWIW, if pissing off his own base really is what Bush was trying to accomplish by appointing Miers, so far it hasn’t worked very well.

    Xrlq (5ffe06)

  2. Paraphrasing what Jews ask at Passover, ‘why expect this fight to turn out different from all the other fights?’

    How many times has the base expressed its outrage with Bush, only to fall into line and go along with whatever Bush has wanted? They did it with Medicare, with the transportation bill, with his sitting out the Democratic judicial filibuster (technically a Senate matter, but Bush was noticeably absent), with his massive increases in education spending, with the Roberts nomination, with his decision to reward the Palestinians with money and support, with his plans on spending massive amounts of money rebuilding New Orleans, and with his inaction towards making the tax cuts permanent.

    The best the right has done is to keep him (so far) from advancing his amnesty for illegal aliens.

    And when Bush has bucked the right (to the above list, add his backing of affirmative action), there’s been no payback at all. The right is Bush’s fraternity pledge: “yes sir, may we have another!”

    Considering the Democrats, on the other hand, have no problem digging in and fighting to the end, I think Bush’s political instincts are spot-on…. the right will fall into line – just like they always do – and he’ll get what he wants.

    steve sturm (d3e296)

  3. Au Contraire:

    GWB didn’t pick a fight with Republicans, he blundered into a fight with Conservatives. There’s a difference.

    Knee jerk Republicans rushed to support Harriet Miers, while Conservatives openly questioned his choice of nominees, and got attacked as snobs for daring to speak up.

    Black Jack (ee9fe2)

  4. It’s a solid, B+ strategy.

    Angry Clam (a7c6b1)

  5. Lunch: 10/10/2005

    Try one of these specials with your lunch: NewsBusters finds the MSM is asking the MSM about the MSM. Resistance is futile! is brought to you by the letter ‘D’ Public Eye (CBS) wonders what the partisans want. RightWingNation writes

    Basil's Blog (af7df9)

  6. It’s hard to pack nuance into a one-line comment, but Patterico’s take in the update is more or less how I meant it. Call it a blunder, or a misunderestimation, but Bush veered so far away from a fight with the Democrats that common sense should have told him he’d have problems on the Right.

    In a vacuum, this probably wouldn’t have been a problem, but it wasn’t in a vacuum. Between the budget, general sloppiness of execution in Iraq and etc, cronyism, big-ticket social initiatives, etc, etc, he’d been to the well of trust too many times. Sometimes you have to listen to the base.

    Kevin Murphy (9982dd)

  7. Bush more likely did this because he already knew that he had problems with the nominal Republicans.

    Folks, the WH politicos may be more centrist than we are, but they were not born yesterday. And they talked with every Republican senator. Don’t you think they had a scorecard beforehand of every vote for every possible nominee?

    Why is it always assumed that there has been betrayal?

    Kurmudge (1e7cdf)

  8. Don’t you think they had a scorecard beforehand of every vote for every possible nominee?


    From the reports I’ve seen, most Senators were caught completely by surprise.

    Patterico (4e4b70)

  9. Bush is not and never has been a conservative. All y’all that are just so happy to have an (R) in the ‘house need to realize that. Just deal with it.

    TCO (b85fd9)

  10. Speaking of picking a fight with your own party:

    Laura Bush says sexism possible in Miers criticism

    Tillman (1cf529)

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