See George run. See George win. See George wreck the Republican Party.
There are lots of uncomfortable things to be, but being a Republican candidate for Congress has to rank right near the top thanks to George Bush flapping about in the political breezes and revealing himself to be the empty suit his critics always said he was.The man may have a resume but apparently no convictions and even more surprisingly, no political savvy. He is repaying the Democrats for a favor. They found a candidate Bush could beat - Michael Dukakis. Now, Bush is resurrecting the Democratic Party in spite of itself.
Bush's performance - breaking his promises right and left, leaving a distinct impression he much prefers to tax the poor folks than his rich pals, and then vacillating all over the place - reminds me of a joke Rep. Phil Crane used to tell. Crane is one of the few principled men in Congress.
Well, what do you conservative Republicans stand for? Crane would ask rhetorically. Well, we stand for free enterprise. Then Richard Nixon imposed wage and price controls. Well, we Republicans at least stand for fiscal responsibility. Then Nixon sent back-to-back budgets with record deficits in them to Congress. Well, Crane continues, we stand for a strong national defense. Then Nixon got into arms treaties with the Soviets. Well, Crane goes on, we are tough on communism. Then Nixon came up with detente and went to China. Well, Crane says finally, just before Watergate, we Republicans may be stupid but at least we're honest.
If you're a Republican candidate, what can you campaign on? No new taxes? Bush wants lots of them. Fair taxation? Bush wants to protect the rich. Cutting down the deficit? Bush agreed to a $170 billion in new discretionary spending in his deficit so-called reduction plan. Conserving energy? Bush doesn't have an energy policy and neither did the Reagan administration. A sound economy? Ours is going in the toilet and Bush is pulling the chain. Stopping the National Endowment for the Arts from funding junk with tax dollars? Bush didn't even want as many restrictions as the Democrats imposed.
There's a certain poetic justice in the discomfort of Republicans. Most of them supported Bush not because they necessarily agreed with him but because they thought he'd win. Well, he did - but most Republicans won't. They made an opportunistic decision and now they have to live with an opportunist in the White House who's not even very good at recognizing opportunities.
Bush promised no new taxes but has embraced them. Bush promised he would never use American agriculture as a weapon in foreign policy. He has. Bush promised there would be no high-level contacts with China until they improved their human rights record, but there were. He promised a kinder and gentler world and then invaded Panama and now has sent 200,000 Americans into the Saudi Arabian desert. He ran on a platform appealing to conservatives on social issues but laughs when his crony, Jim Baker, says of conservatives, Bleep them.
In the meantime, Republican candidates will need a scorecard and a calculator to try to keep up with Bush's position on the budget. One thing for sure, having spent the summer in bed with the Democrats, Bush will have a hard time blaming them for the product of their union.