Monday, May 08, 2006

Desperate GOP Trotting Out an Old Favorite

To cling to power, Republicans dredge up ‘gay marriage’ again

By Steve Charing
Senior Political Analyst

Take your pick: Iraq, soaring gas prices, Katrina, no-bid contracts, immigration, Iran, Dubai ports, unprecedented deficits, Dafur, CIA leaks, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, the Abramoff scandals, ethical behavior, secrecy, Big Oil, Haliburton, Tom DeLay, the Harriet Meyers debacle, insufficient health care, Teri Schiavo, global warming. Oh, did I mention George W. Bush?

These are not happy times for Republicans, and with good reason. Most, if not all, of these problems have the Republican finger prints all over them. All the errors in judgement, all the deceit, all the arrogance, all the incompetence was made in GOPland and attributed to their leaders.

Finally, finally the voting public has taken notice. Around three-fourths of those polled in a recent survey said the country is on the wrong track—a politically ominous sign. President Bush’s approval rating is in the low thirty percent area (it makes you question the sanity of the third of the country who still believe he is doing a good job) and Republicans significantly trail Democrats nationwide as to whom people would prefer running Congress.

The two principal concerns—Iraq and gas prices—are going to be the leading factors in what appears to be at the moment a major shift in the political winds. The "throw the scoundrels out" mantra is starting to be heard loud and clear, and Democrats hope that it will be reverberating in November.

Noticeable improvement in the tragic war in Iraq is unlikely to be realized by then. Gas prices will continue to trend upward. For the GOP dark clouds loom on the horizon because there is no upside potential for this administration, and we haven’t had the 2006 hurricane season yet! The revolving door of press secretaries and CIA directors will not stop the bleeding.

Republican strategists admit they have given up on trying to increase their hold on both houses in Congress; they are content to play defense and try to maintain what they have so that they may continue to control all three branches of government. They will use this strategy by reinvigorating their base, especially cultural conservatives.

The GOP is rightfully scared. So when a rat (named Rove) is cornered, it becomes mean and dangerous. What is the course of action? Appeal to the dark side of humanity, whip up the bigoted base and trot out gay marriage.

Why not? It worked in all 11 states in 2004 where a ban on same-sex marriage was on the ballot. President Bush was the beneficiary having won the swing state of Ohio, which many political analysts credit that issue as the tipping point in that state.

Retiring homophobic Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) will attempt to launch his presidential bid by bringing up once again a federal constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman. The hearings for this endeavor begin June 5. It is likely to fail, but it offers crumbs to the "base."

These crumbs are needed to hold the base together. The latest AP-Ipsos poll indicates that many conservatives may sit out November’s elections because, among other reasons, Bush isn’t doing enough about ‘gay marriage.’ Despite all the problems facing this country—economically, politically, environmentally and socially—this is what some are obsessed about. What is wrong with these people? They were handed the Supreme Court, for heaven’s sake.

I predict the ‘gay marriage’ gambit will not pay off this time. Even some conservatives are opposed to a federal constitutional amendment that would infringe upon states’ rights. Former Missouri Republican Senator John Danforth, now an Episcopalian minister, calls such an action "silly."

When a person is paying $75 to fill up his gas-guzzler and American bodies keep coming back from Iraq, less worry outside the reddest of districts will be aimed at the marriage aspirations of Adam and Steve down the street.

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