The last two weeks or so have been almost more fun than most of us bleeding-heart liberals and yellow-dog Democrats can handle. Bush's numbers keep falling and are now at levels that would have made Nixon wince. DeLay has been indicted and is to be fingerprinted and mug-shotted later this week. Frist is in trouble over questionable stock trades. And, everyone's favorite, it's looking more and more like the Plame smear is going to cost the administration very dearly. Every rumor brings a new giggle.
Any one of those would have been enough to make us happy, but the real gravy is that these problems are combining to create some real cracks in the conservative coalition. The Miers nomination has not satisfied the cultural right and they are not in a mood to be quiet about it. It might not be bloody civil war yet, but a few noses have been punched and egos wounded.
Today, David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, is crying because he's been given a little of the Rove treatment that is usually reserved for Democrats and John McCain.
What is most troubling about this whole affair, however, is the way the administration has gone about trying to demonize conservatives who have raised questions about Ms. Miers. It began from day one to attack personally the motives, loyalty and judgment of anyone who questioned the wisdom of the nomination. Since then, the ad hominem attacks on Miers’s conservative critics have been unconscionably heavy-handed and will haunt the president regardless of how the nomination fight turns out.
Were the White House's ad hominem attacks on war critics unconscionably heavy-handed? Dirty, brutal politics have been a hallmark of this administration for over four years. It's been used against patriotic whistleblowers, honest political opposition, and mourning parents. Where was Keene's shock and indignation during that time?
Most conservatives have stood with Bush from the beginning. Those of us who know him like him. We’ve swallowed policies we might otherwise have objected to because we’ve believed that he and those around him are themselves conservatives trying to do the right thing against sometimes terrible odds. We’ve been there for him because we’ve considered ourselves part of his team.
From now on, this administration will find it difficult to muster support on the right without explaining why it should be forthcoming. The days of the blank check have ended because no thinking conservative really wants to be part of a team that requires marching in lock step without question or thought, even if it is headed by the president of the United States.
Hypocrisy. Pure Hypocrisy. Once again, "marching in lock step without question or thought" is something that the administration has demanded since 9-11. Not just from the party, but from the whole country. Keene had no problem with that demand as long as he agreed with the program that people were being ordered to support. Now that he is the one being bullied around and it's all tears and "I'm going to take my ball and go home."
I have no sympathy for him at all. Frankly, I'm rather enjoying this.
Shakespeare's Sister and John Aravosis also have no sympathy for Keene. Poor baby.