March 2006
                        (page 1)

Gray November, Coming Up
by Joe Sobran

     This is what we call a midterm election year, and it 
may be the most convulsive one since 1994. President Bush 
and his party, who barely a year ago had it all, have 
plunged to their lowest level of popularity ever, and the 
Democrats are hoping to regain at least one house of 
Congress, maybe both, this fall. Bush's conduct is widely 
seen as incompetent, illegal, and even unconstitutional. 
His staunchest supporters don't show much enthusiasm 
anymore, and some Democrats are murmuring about 
everything from censure to impeachment. Unlikely, but no 
longer unthinkable.

     The pundits agree that neither party has found a 
compelling theme, but the Democrats may not need one. 
Disgust with the Republicans may be such a seismic force 
that the voters won't be very particular about reasons 
for chucking them out at the first opportunity. My old 
friend Fred Barnes (we used to be neighbors) has written 
a book praising Bush for "redefining" American 
conservatism. Well, if that's an achievement, let's give 
credit where credit is due. Certainly Bush has left 
conservatism, as popularly understood, unrecognizable.

     After repudiating "nation-building" during the 2000 
campaign, Bush adopted it with a vengeance after 9/11: 
his presidency has been defined by his announced mission 
of "global democratic revolution." Such talk used to make 
conservatives shudder. Even his father was willing to 
settle for a "new world order" -- a comparatively minor 
adjustment, involving little bloodshed. Old Bush, it's 
true, did agree to raise new taxes, but this was because 
he realized that Big Government had to be paid for 
eventually, and, unlike his son, he didn't favor INFINITE 

     It's not that I want the Democrats in power. But 
there is no longer much reason to prefer the Republicans, 
and a return to "gridlock" -- the mutual frustration that 
is all we can pray for in a two-party system -- looks 
like the last, if not exactly best, hope for democracy. 
Unfortunately, our Constitution makes no provision for a 
military coup; so much for the vaunted wisdom of the 
Framers. (Should we be grateful that our generals don't 
see the Constitution as a living document?)

     The pressing issue this year is the Iraq war. The 
Democrats are divided about it, but despite growing 
opposition to it among their base, they don't oppose it 
in principle; both parties agree that "world leadership" 
-- a sunny euphemism for global empire -- is America's 
vocation. They have tactical differences (mostly 
opportunistic) about what this historic role requires 
here and now, and of course the Democrats are glad to 
exploit Bush's "quagmire" now that the public is 
disillusioned with it.

     As usual, the question this fall will be not whether 
we'll get bigger government -- that's a given -- but 
which brand of tyranny we're likely to get and how much. 
"Faith, there's small choice among rotten apples."


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