Is the tide turning? Is Bush loosing his grip? There do indeed seem to be signs that he has simply gone too far for many of his most ardent supporters.
The president launched a war today against the civil rights of gay citizens and their families. And just as importantly, he launched a war to defile the most sacred document in the land. Rather than allow the contentious and difficult issue of equal marriage rights to be fought over in the states, rather than let politics and the law take their course, rather than keep the Constitution out of the culture wars, this president wants to drag the very founding document into his re-election campaign. He is proposing to remove civil rights from one group of American citizens — and do so in the Constitution itself. The message could not be plainer: these citizens do not fully belong in America. Their relationships must be stigmatized in the very Constitution itself. The document that should be uniting the country will now be used to divide it, to single out a group of people for discrimination itself, and to do so for narrow electoral purposes. Not since the horrifying legacy of Constitutional racial discrimination in this country has such a goal been even thought of, let alone pursued. Those of us who supported this president in 2000, who have backed him whole-heartedly during the war, who have endured scorn from our peers as a result, who trusted that this president was indeed a uniter rather than a divider, now know the truth.
And on February 11th, “Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly, who was one of the most ardent supporters of the Iraq war, shocked his critics by apologizing to viewers for accepting Bush’s claims about Iraq’s WMD.” (More here.)
In January CNN reported “Conservatives stew as Bush spending grows.”
And there are even rumors of replacing Dick Cheney with Rudy Giuliani.
Joshua Marshall thinks that the marriage amendment shows an administration whose back is to the wall:
The White House didn’t want to have the president out last night making a slashing campaign speech in late February. They also didn’t want to start hitting the airwaves this early with their campaign commercials. And they definitely did not want the president jumping off the high dive into a gay rights culture war.
The strategy was to bank the president’s rock solid support from Republicans and spend the year above the political fray with soft sounding proposals aimed at the political middle.
But it hasn’t worked out that way.
And the polls show that popular support for Bush is slipping:
Bush’s approval rating in the poll has fallen to 48 percent (down 8 points since mid-January), the lowest Pew has ever recorded. His approval rating in the last month has dropped has dropped 9 points among white women, 10 points among those 30-49 years of age, 11 points among women under 50, 11 points among white Catholics (a critical swing group), 12 points among high school graduates, 12 points among white non-evangelical protestants and 16 points among those in rural areas.
But none of this seems to be slowing down Bush’s fundraising efforts. In the end this will not be an election about policy issues, morality, or even security — it will be about democracy. Can the financial support of the very richest people in the country reelect an increasingly unpopular Bush? I hope not.