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Bush: A uniter after all ?

May 22nd, 2006

George W. Bush’s promise to be “a uniter not a divider” has always seemed like a bad joke. He’s been one of the most polarising Presidents in US history, and this was reflected in opinion polls. As recently as February 2006, Bush managed to score 82 per cent approval among Republicans, while getting nearly 80 per cent disapproval (and mostly strong disapproval) from Democrats.

But the latest Harris poll suggests that Bush might finally be bringing Americans together. His suppport among Republicans has fallen to 67 per cent, and the decline seems to be continuing. A majority (53 per cent) of those who regard themselves as conservative think he is doing a bad job. So maybe Bush can unite us all in agreement on at least one point.

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  1. May 23rd, 2006 at 08:21 | #1

    This revulsion of Republican conservatives from Bush is caused by Bush’s unconservative stance on the Congressional debate about immigration and border control. Prominent conservative Richard Viguerie explains in the WaPo:

    the immigration crisis was the tipping point for us. Indeed, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found last week that Republican disapproval of Bush’s presidency had increased from 16 percent to 30 percent in one month. It is largely the defection of conservatives that is driving the president’s poll numbers to new lows.

    Bush’s borderless world/endless guest worker policies are hated by Republican conservatives because they trash the US as a national state. He could take a leaf out of Howard’s nationalistic stance book if he wants to retain the support of normal conservatives.

  2. Katz
    May 23rd, 2006 at 09:21 | #2

    The problem for Bush accepting Jack’s prescription for Fortress Anglo is that the Hispanic component of the US population is now the largest minority.

    Bush’s handlers knew this and persuaded the Republican Party to hold its nose, mounting a “charm offensive” on the Help (er Hispanics).

    Like much else during the Bush ascendency, this tactic has blown up in the face of the Republicans.

    If Bush decides to cosy up to Conservatives who can’t see a brown face without seeing a busboy, he is condemning the Republican Party to a marginal position in American politics.

    However, in the medium term, the Bush approach is correct. The Republicans will be forced to decide to readjust their attitude to Hispanics just like they readjusted in the late 1960s and early 1970s their attitude to Southern White culture.

  3. StephenL
    May 23rd, 2006 at 10:32 | #3

    What I want to know is who are the 10% of liberals who have a positive opinion of him.

  4. May 23rd, 2006 at 12:20 | #4

    Katz,
    Interesting that the issue that seems to have cast him adrift from his base is a (U.S.) liberal cause. This probably also answers StephenL’s question.
    .
    The readjustment to Southern White culture (Nixon’s Southern strategy) was what alienated the African-American voters from the Republicans and effectively turned the Republicans into the conservative force we see today. Prior to that the Democrats had a lock on the South as the party of segregation. The Hispanic strategy beng followed here runs roughly counter to that. It is actually a smart move – provided it does not lose the conservative base that has been built up over the last 30 years.
    This whole thing, though, is a good argument for compulsory registration and attendance at polling booths (provided they work). Bush was able to abandon the middle in the knowledge that, if he got out the conservative vote he did not need the middle and that they would tend not to vote anyway.

  5. May 23rd, 2006 at 12:54 | #5

    Jack,

    According to this Census report, there are about 35 million “Hispanics” in the United States, and over half of them are of Mexican origin. They are very likely to vote in the 2006 Congressional elections – against the Republicans. (I make some exception for Arnie, but then he’s an immigrant himself, and he’s made no pandering to the “anti-immigration” base of the party.) You cannot treat this constituency like a couple of boatloads of people.

    Oh, and I’d take anything said in Congress with a grain of salt. According to JQ’s link, Congress has a 80% disapproval rating. That’s worse than Bush.

    Katz:

    The Republicans did have a lock down on the Cuban-Americans. I don’t know if they will have them anymore. This is one of those fleeting times where Bush is being attacked by the “know-nothing” branch of the party for “liberalism”, what ever that means. I think they can say good bye to Arizona, New Mexico and Florida after 2008.

  6. May 23rd, 2006 at 17:38 | #6

    Down and Out in Sài Gòn Says: May 23rd, 2006 at 12:54 pm

    Jack, According to this Census report, there are about 35 million “Hispanicsâ€? in the United States, and over half of them are of Mexican origin. They are very likely to vote in the 2006 Congressional elections – against the Republicans…You cannot treat this constituency like a couple of boatloads of people.

    There are so many fallacies and falsities in this analysis that it would take all day to refute and correct them. Suffice it to say that the so-called Republican Hispanic constituency meme has always been more myth than reality.

    This is owing to the low voting propenisty of this part of the electorate. And its propensity to be gerrymandered or captivated in predominantly Red or Blue states.

    Since civil rights came into being minority outreach has never really done much good for Republicans. The mariginally electorated and electorally validated Hispanic community has dont have much sympathy for Republicans of any stripe. So they are not the cause of Bush’s sudden slump in popularity. The Republicans cannot lose what they did not own.

    Bush is going down because conservatives finally realised that he is a radical constructivist: invading the world and inviting the world.

  7. avaroo
    May 24th, 2006 at 07:58 | #7

    Andrew, I think you’ve hit it on the head. Conservative unhappiness with Bush is very real and very related to his stance on immigration. But the problem is, conservatives have nowhere else to go on immigration because the democratic party is seen as even less likely to control immigration the way conservatives want it controlled, i.e. a full wall along the border and deportation of every illegal. The only hope conservatives have is actually to vote republican in November in the hope that republicans in Congress can thwart Bush’s plan. In a weird and I’m sure totally unintended way, it might actually help the repubs in Nov. I think Bush is sincere in what he thinks should be done about immigration, I also think it alienates many conservatives.

  8. StephenL
    May 24th, 2006 at 11:27 | #8

    I could take issue with Jack on many things, but I’ll stick to what I know best.

    Whatever else may be said of the Hispanic vote it is not “captivated in predominantly Red or Blue states”. The main centres of Hispanic population are (not sure of the order) California, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Florida. I think New York, Nevada and Colorado are the other reasonably big ones.

    True, California and Texas are solid blue and red respectively, but New Mexico is one of the very few states that voted differently in 2000 and 2004. Arizona was pretty close both times and Nevada and Colorado nearly went to Kerry. We all know about Florida.

    The majority of Hispanics live in “safe” states, but that is true of the country as well – swing states are the minority and Hispanics are more likely to live in a swing state than whites, and far more than blacks.

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