He then goes on to give examples.
According to the latest Gallup survey, Republican self-identification has declined nationally and in almost every American state. Why? The short answer is that President Bush's war of choice in Iraq has destroyed the partisan brand Republicans spent the past four decades building.
That brand was based upon four pillars: that Republicans are more trustworthy on defense and military issues; that they know when and where markets can replace or improve government; that they are more competent administrators of those functions government can't privatize; and, finally, that their public philosophy is imbued with moral authority. The war demolished all four claims.
On defense issues:
On being "imbued with moral authority" he writes:
In uniform or out, Americans think Iraq is a disaster, oppose escalation and blame Mr. Bush and his party for the mess in Mesopotamia. Heading into the 2006 mid-terms, polls showed Republicans trailing Democrats as the party most trusted to handle Iraq and terrorism. Nationally, Mr. Bush's war approval ratings hover around 30 percent.
Military members are skeptical, too. A Military Times poll released in December revealed that only 35 percent of military members approved of the president's handling of the war - despite the fact that 46 percent of them are self-identified Republicans...
On the third, pillar, "superior management skills" Schaller unloads this:
Finally, there is the war's morality. In what moral system is it justified to wage a war without paying for it? Mr. Bush tormented Sen. John Kerry in 2004 for "voting for before voting against" funding the war. But Mr. Kerry voted for a version of the $87 billion appropriation bill that also raised revenues to pay for it. Instead, we pile the war's costs atop our mountainous national debt, leaving future generations to pay for it later - plus interest.
The administration is asking for another $245 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan - an amount that, were it set aside and allowed to accrue interest, could pay the entire budget of a mid-size state like Maryland for almost a decade. This sum, too, will be added to America's giant credit card bill - an act of moral cowardice from the same White House that gives lectures about the sanctity of marriage and embryonic stem cells.
Notice, too, how management "success" has been steadily defined downward: from disarming an unarmed Saddam Hussein, to bringing liberation and democratization, to establishing basic security, to avoiding a domestic civil war, to "holding and clearing" Baghdad, to the current goal of preventing a regional conflagration that wouldn't be imminent had we not gone to Iraq in the first place. Talk about the soft bigotry of low - and lowering - expectations.Schaller may be over stating his case, or he may be right on the money.
In any case, I'd have to admit that dubya has done a great deal of damage to the Republican party. The credibility of the Republic party was shredded by dubya, plain and simple. How can (better yet, why should) the citizens of this country ever trust any member of that party?
I'll ask again. Where are the tons and tons of WMD? Saddam's ties to al-qaeda? We know that the Republicans didn't know what they said they knew when they said they knew it. And that's what's known as lying.
Very little credibility left, I'm afraid. And that's too bad. Becuase it'll make it that much harder for honest conservatives in the future to be taken seriously.