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Who is the post-Bush Republican Party?

In the New Republic online, Reihan Salam (an early and appreciative correspondent to this blog) has a well-written two-part series on the scene in the loser's locker room Tuesday night and beyond -- that is, the fate of Karl Rove, Chuck Hagle, the neocons, Rumsfeld, etc if Bush loses, and of Howard Dean, John Edwards, moveon.org, George Soros and other Democratic players if Kerry loses.

No doubt, it will be ugly either way. But in reading the segment on the Republicans, there seemed to be something missing: who will be doing the punishing? If there are recriminations against a Rove or, as Salam suggests, against Hagel and Senator Lugar for allowing their mild dissents on Iraq to be used for Kerry's purposes, just who is going to dish those recriminations out? Tom DeLay, delivering orders to his henchmen on a phone handset across a Lexan wall? Dennis Hastert? Bill Frist? Dick Cheney? All will be implicated in the meltdown of what had been, if handled correctly, a rare opportunity to hold the presidency and both houses of Congress for almost a decade. There will surely be a period of chaos, and that means that if people like Lugar decide to cooperate with Kerry in a limited way, there may be no one to punish them.

This is one reason I don't fully agree with the widely held view that governance will be a mess either way and that "the climate will be more poisonous if Kerry is elected," as Sam Rosenfeld put it on Tapped, referring specifically to things I had written. (I'll try to comment more fully on Sunday.) In 1993, the Republican Party was firmly under the control of Dole and Gingrich. They could issue the order: give Clinton nothing, concede nothing even if you agree with him. In the wake of a Bush defeat, and with DeLay's legal troubles, I don't think there's anyone to issue that order who would be taken seriously. That leaves the Hagels, Lugars, Snowes Voinoviches, and McCains as free agents, able to be coopted by Kerry if he understands that he has to and understands how to.

On the other hand, even though it became apparent a year ago that there is no such thing as "the Democratic Party establishment," there is a core of leadership that clearly survives a Kerry loss: not Terry McAuliffe, but Pelosi, Daschle or Reid, the Clintons and their circle, the leadership of some of the new organizations, etc. There will be some chaos, and some recriminations, and I'm sure everyone will decide that Kerry was a terrible candidate. (Although show me another who would have made fewer mistakes and performed flawlessly for four and a half hours of high-wire debate.) But there will also be the unbelievable unity in opposition that the party has found -- there will be no DLC-led infighting -- and an understanding that it was never going to be easy to win an election against the incumbent who took us through 9/11 and Karl Rove's slime machine. A Republican loss will be the end of that party's current ascendancy; a Kerry loss will be no more than a severe setback on the Democrats'.

Posted by Mark Schmitt on October 31, 2004 | Permalink

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Comments

I agree on the senate, but why do you think that the GOP house will not be able to maintain discipline and, assuming it keeps or slighly increases its current majority, thwart anything Kerry wants to do. Where is the evidence for fissures in the republican house caucus??

Posted by: angry moderate | Oct 31, 2004 7:54:10 AM

Perhaps this is just my optimism talking, angry, but it seems like Tom Delay's legal troubles might end up removing him from the equation, or at least discredit his approach.
Again, that's just my optimism and relative ignorance talking.

Posted by: poop ruiz | Oct 31, 2004 12:48:39 PM

"(Although show me another who would have made fewer mistakes and performed flawlessly for four and a half hours of high-wire debate.)"

Not "flawlessly," though, dude: Mary Cheney. Even I thought it was gratuitous and obscured an otherwise thoughtful answer).

That said, I think Kerry was easily the best guy the Dems could have nominated.

Posted by: Delicious Pundit | Oct 31, 2004 5:32:43 PM

I am a conservative who has left the party and came back. I read your article here and I think that you are jumping to a lot of conclusions about the infighting that may take place if Bush looses. I agree there will be some blame going around. I doubt it will be strong. I am sure they will have some problems in the beginning but will take care of those quickly and go about the business for the house and the senate.

I agree that if Kerry losses it will only be a serious setback. I do not believe that he was nominated because of his chance to win. I think he was nominated because Bush is an incumbant president and the democrats did not expect to win. I think they are saving there best candidates for next time. Where it will be a fresh opportunity for both sides.

Posted by: Randall | Oct 31, 2004 6:07:51 PM

Well, clearly, Bush/Cheney/Rumsfield would no longer be a major players - not that I think he would care much. But that doesn't mean that Rove wouldn't get picked up buy Frist or some other power center looking to get more powerful. Delay probably ends up in control of the agenda, and hopefully he gets hamstrung or even ends up in prison. But if not, he clearly has the will to wield power, and I think he and his advisors essentially become the Republican leadership.


Posted by: Bones | Oct 31, 2004 8:08:58 PM

I think Kerry has run a solid campaign. This country is just insane. Kerry ran a significantly better campaign than Gore. If anyone needs to be taken to the woodshed, I nominate Shrum.

Posted by: Drew | Nov 1, 2004 1:40:37 PM

(remove the at to reply by email)

You're being far too optimistic.

The conservative blogosphere and media (Drudge, talk radio etc.) will hound a Kerry Administration far worse than they did Clinton.

Kerry will be like LBJ: unable to pull out of a losing foreign war because of the threat from the right (we know now LBJ wanted to but thought the right would eat him alive).

Karl Rove will be out there advising and crafting Bill Frist.

Conservatives *like* being in opposition: it feeds their rage and sense of disenfranchisement (already if this election is lost it is because of CBS/ New York Times/ UN IAEA and Al Quaa: a multiway conspiracy).

There are not enough liberal Republicans left to make a difference. As Grover Norquist said 'Lincoln Chafee, Olympia Snow. Who cares about them? THey will never be replaced'.

A Kerry Administration is going to be in peril from the first day to the last. While we go back to our jobs and our lives, the conservative money machine will be hammering. JK's problems *start* if he wins the election on November 3rd (or December 3rd or whatever).

Did I mention what happened to JFK and RFK? Something about assassinations that were never explained? (OK that is far fetched, but the open questions remain)

Posted by: John | Nov 1, 2004 5:51:07 PM

president george w bush has tried his best for our country but failed. he is a loser just like his old goat man. everyone hates the name bush.he is getting our troops killed,and should be impeached.he is a threat to the earth. hes trying but i think hes not trying hard enough. all he cares about is the rich people and himself. him and that phony smile of his.he is a dirty bum and should turn his membership card in for the human race.lets throw bush out of the chair of his.bush may cause more and more damage.he has a sreaw lose in that deranged head of his.he needs what they call a 12 step program plus an alchol group for all of the drinking he does.down with bush.push push in president bushs bush. what a loser and a dirty low life that he is.he is a loser like his old man and should have been a dogs president he had the election fixed again.i cant stand him i want to throwup just when i hear that voice of his.he makes me sick i,d like to throw pies in that puss of his.

Posted by: rocky road icecream | Nov 10, 2004 9:46:49 AM

I WOKEUP IN THE MORNING SAW THAT BUSH WAS PRESIDENT.I JUMPED OUT A WINDOW I BROKE ALL MY BONES NOW IM STUCK IN A WHEELCHAIR AND WHERE ALSO STUCK WITH BUSH.I THOUGHT EVERYTHING WOULD BE ALRIGHT BUT NOW IM SCREWEDUP ITS ALL BECAUSE OF BUSH WINNING THE ELECTION AGAIN I THINK I WILL WASTE HIM BUT NOW I CANT BECAUSE NOW I BROKE ALL MY FINGERS WHEN I HAMMERED A PICTURE OF BUSH IN NOW IM HALF DEAD AND NOW WE STILL GOT BUSH.

Posted by: A REAL NUT | Nov 10, 2004 9:58:07 AM

Welcome to the World of double speak where Big Brother (Bush)can lie to the people but say it's the truth, and still become the President. The people were sold a dream about religious morals and purity and they believed it, but in truth this is an illusion, if we're so moral why are there more murders here than any where else in the world? Why are priest and other people you trust molesting children? I could go on and on. Anyway while the ones who preach this religious morality don't believe it themselves, they just tell the people what they want to hear. People are being diverted to things that don't matter while our soldiers
(people's dads,moms,brothers,and sisters)are dying and their jobs in the U.S. are being shipped out, and the friends and cronies of the President get contracts and millions from the war he created and the tax breaks he gives them for shipping the jobs out.

To me this borders on criminal!

Posted by: Phantom Mystic | Nov 10, 2004 11:37:05 AM

bush is a loser,a boser and a very deranged person.should he be impeached my anwser to that would be yes.he needs a 12 step program for all the drinking he does.he is not doing anything for our country.all he cares about is himself.he is a loser just like his father is.down with bush.president bush has tried his best for our country but has failed and failed over and over again.he should have been kicked out of office a long time ago.he is a dogs president.he should turn in his card for the human race he is a lowlife and a drunk.he is a beer lover and a dirty bum and also a cocaine user.he got arrested for drunk driving,disorderly at a baseball game and theft at a hotel what a loser a bush makes.bush needs help.he is also demented.he started a world war.he is against everything. that dirty bum.

Posted by: keith bradley | Nov 11, 2004 9:18:39 AM

president bush is a poor excuse for a president.he tryed his best but failed.he is a loser like his father.he should have been impeached a long time ago.he is a bum and a lowlife.

Posted by: homer sampson | Nov 17, 2004 9:20:46 AM

president bush is a loser and i think hes a boser. he failed for our country .he is a loser like his father,a dirty bum and a drunk.he is a dogs president.i would,nt get him to get my dog or cat out of a zoo.he needs a 12 step program.he gets drunk in the oval office and plus cheats on his wife and she dont know it.he should turn in his membership card for the human race.lets hunt bushs.he should be impeached.his father was the biggest loser in president history.bush started a world war.he is a very deranged and perverted person.his father is the same way as his son a real true loser and boser.where do you think bush gets it from his old snot faced father.he is also a cocaine user and a real drunk he must drink 9 to 12 beers a day.he brings all kinds of men into the oval office.he keeps used rubbers in his jar tell me that is not nuts he is crazy.he dont even know what he is doing.he studders when he gives a speech that dirty bum he should just throw in the towel and just resign.he caused 911 and started a world war he has to be stopped lets impeach the loser.he blows guys in his office sniffs cocaine and drinks his beer he is a real loser and must be stopped.god bless the usa while he is in office

Posted by: keith bradley | Nov 17, 2004 9:42:11 AM

BUSH IS A LOWLIFE JUST LIKE HIS FATHER.

Posted by: KEITH BRADLEY | Nov 17, 2004 10:11:08 AM

bush the asshole

Posted by: none of your bussiness | Nov 17, 2004 10:20:16 AM

president bush is a dirty bum and a lowlife that should be impeached.he had the election fixed again.he is a loser like his father.all he cares about is himself and the rich people.he should be kicked right out of office.he is not running our country right.he should have been a dog and cats president.hes nothing but a drunk and a coke user. bush has tried everything in his power for our country but failed and failed over and over again.he should turn in his membership card for the human race.impeach impeach bush.i hate the guy and thats all i got to say about the BUM

Posted by: keith bradley | Nov 18, 2004 9:28:45 AM

welcome to what a loser a bush makes.our story begins here.once upon a time there was a bush this bush was a real loser he is the son of george bush who is a drunk.this bush became our so called president of the united states. he started a world war and is getting out of line the misfit is a loser like his father.he is a coke and crack user.he should be impeached he gets drunk on the job makes his coke pipes and smokes weed in his office he is a dogs president and he needs a 12 step program he must resign or do something to improve himself he studders while giving a speech.he not only does drugs but he is a drunk and should turn in his membership card for the human race hes not human hes a dirty rat he stole the election from a good and honest man john kerry who should have won.the crack user did the same thing with al gore.he is a threat to the unitedstates and other countries and must be stopped before he does anymore of his damage that is why bush should throw in that towel of his and just resign.bush is a loser and we all know that hes a boser.impeach impeach bush i hate the guy he makes me sick and hundreds of others.i want to puke when i look at him he makes everyone sick.lets vote to impeach the dirty bum that low life.he keeps cocaine under his chair in his office and also pipes full with crack in his so called cookie jar.the guys a REAL REAL LOSER.what a loser a bush makes.he is a tomato nosed prune.id like to throw pies in his ugly face of his.

Posted by: none of your bussiness | Nov 18, 2004 9:55:39 AM

president bush is a dirty bum and a loser just like his father he should be impeached he did a total nothing for our country he should have resigned a longtime ago he is also a drunk a drunk a drunk a drunk a drunk a drunk a drunk a drunk and a boser a boser a boser a boser a boser like his father like his father like his father like his father like his father what a loser a loser a bush can really make he is stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid like his old man is he also uses cocaine cocaine cocaine he gets drunk in his office in his office in his office his office

Posted by: keith bradley | Dec 3, 2004 11:08:50 AM

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ NOW WE ALL KNOW OUR ABC,S AND WE ALL NOW 1234567890

Posted by: | Dec 3, 2004 11:11:22 AM

president george w bushhead has failed once again he always been a true loser he is also a boser what a loser a bush makes.he should be impeached he is a waste of time and money.he started a world war he is getting all of are men killed.he got arrested for disorderly at a baseball game drunk driving and hotel theft.he and his father are born losers. bush should just throw in the towel.he should be kicked out of office he should have been impeached a long time ago.he even fell from a plane after he lost his lunch he must drink up to six to seven times a day.impeach impeach bush he should resign and let the better man in.he is a dirty bum and a low life he should turn in his membership card for the human race.bush the loser and boser he is a deranged person.

Posted by: keith bradley | Dec 8, 2004 9:23:06 AM

TERROR TERROR BUSH IN WHITE HOUSE

Posted by: KEITHBRADLEY | Dec 8, 2004 9:59:09 AM

BUSH IS NOTHING BUT A DIRTY RAT AND A LOSER HE SHOULD BE IMPEACHED.I WANT TO PUNCH BUSH IN THAT FACE OF HIS HE GOT ARRESTED FOR THEFT AT A HOTEL DISORDERLY AT A BASEBALL GAME AND DRUNK DRIVING WHAT A LOSER A BUSH MAKES.HE IS A LOSER LIKE HIS FATHER.HIS FATHER WANTED TO GIVE BUSH BACK.BUSH STARTED A WORLD WAR HE SHOULD JUST RESIGN AND LET THE BETTER MAN IN.HE SHOULD BE KICKED OUT OF OFFICE HE IS A WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY.ALL HE CARES ABOUT IS HIMSELF.HE IS GETTING ALL OF OUR MEN KILLED IF BUSH WAS THERE HE,D RUN THE OTHER WAY.TERROR ALERT BUSH IN WHITE HOUSE.HE IS A DRUNK AND A CRACK USER HE SHOULD TURN IN HIS MEMBERSHIP CARD FOR THE HUMAN RACE.LETS IMPEACH HIM.HE IS A THREAT TO EVERYTHING AND HIMSELF.IMPEACH IMPEACH BUSH HE IS A DERANGED NUT THAT SHOULD BE PUT AWAY SOMEWHERE IN A NUT HOUSE FOR THAT BRAIN OF HIS THAT IS NOT WORKING RIGHT.HE MAKES EVERYONE SICK WHO EVER LIKES THIS BUM IS A REAL NUT.LETS PUNCH OUT HIS LIGHTS.WHAT A LOSER HES JUST LIKE HIS FATHER THE SAMEWAY.. HE SHOULD JUST THROW IN THE TOWEL BEFORE IT IS TO LATE BEFORE HE STARTS ANYMORE OF HIS DAMANGE.HE HAS A LEAK IN HIS ATTIC.HE CAUSED WARS ALL OVER THE FACE OF THE EARTH HE IS A ASSHOLE AN ASS WIPE AND MUCH MUCH MORE.

Posted by: JENNY GUGOLINO | Dec 13, 2004 10:21:28 AM

ITS ALL ABOUT BUSH HE STARTED A WORLD WAR HE SHOULD BE OVER THERE WITH HIS SO CALLED FATHER BOTH OF THEM WOULD RUN THE OTHER WAY.WHAT A LOSER A BUSH CAN MAKE LETS IMPEACH THE BUM HE SHOULD HAVE RESIGNED A LONGTIME AGO.IMPEACH IMPEACH BUSH HE IS A LOSER LIKE HIS FATHER IS.BUSH ARRESTED FOR DRUNKDRIVING DISORDERLY AT A BASEBALL GAME AND HOTEL THEFT.HE SHOULD TURN IN HIS MEMBERSHIP CARD FOR THE HUMAN RACE.BUSH IS ALSO A BOSER AND A CRACK USER.BUSH THE CRACK USER HE IS A DIRTY BUM.

Posted by: HOMER SIMPSON | Dec 13, 2004 10:34:51 AM

bush is a sick deranged person he should turn in his membership card for the human race that dirty bum

Posted by: keith gaga | Dec 20, 2004 10:17:46 AM

bush got arrested for drunk driving,disorderly at a baseball game and theft at a hotel what a loser

Posted by: keith bradley | Dec 20, 2004 10:45:21 AM