We need some "no" men in the White House
Linda Chavez makes some excellent points in this column. President Bush is too isolated and seems to be out of touch with his base of support. Instead of reaching out to find out why conservatives so vehemently oppose his nomination of Harriet Miers, he sends his minions out to attack the very people who have supported him through thick and thin. Has the White House ever engaged the democrats with such venom and vigor as it has engaged its own base? Has the White House called democrats the equivalent of "elitists" or "sexists"? We hear that the White House has sent out word to any Republicans with presidential hopes for the nomination in 2008 that they are finished if they oppose the Miers nomination. That sounds more like the Sopranos to me than a White House we can all be proud of. It is not for George Bush to annoint his successor. It is hubris and arrogance in the extreme to suggest such a thing. If that is true, then we live in what amounts to a benign oligarchy -- with what amounts to a royal dynasty passing power from hand to hand without recourse to elections or the will of the people.
Townhall.com :: Columns :: Too many yes-men by Linda Chavez
Instead of listening to what conservatives are actually saying about the Miers nomination, the White House strategy is to attack the critics. We are suddenly the enemy: elitists, sexists, disloyal, and don't really represent anyone anyway. There is no one in the White House who has the nerve to tell the president that he should be worried when Democratic Sen. Harry Reid is more enthusiastic about his nominee than the editors of National Review.
And it's not just the Miers mishap. This White House seems more isolated from the larger world than most. The president brags he doesn't read newspapers. The initial response to Hurricane Katrina suggests he rarely watches television news either. When the president ventures out of the White House bubble, it's usually to return to Crawford or to address a safe, administration-friendly audience. With Republicans in control of both Houses of Congress, the president doesn't even have to meet regularly with members of the opposition party. President Reagan, for example, forged a friendly relationship with one of his chief adversaries, House Speaker Tip O'Neill, but you get no hint that President Bush has done the same. Admittedly, the political atmosphere in Washington has grown more toxic in the last 20 years -- and Democrats are, I believe, largely to blame. President Bush came to office promising to change the climate, but quickly gave up, simply insulating himself from having to deal with it.
It is one thing to cut yourself off from people who don't share your values and aspirations, and quite another to push aside your most faithful allies because you don't like what they have to say on an important issue. The president has surrounded himself with people who tell him what he wants to hear. It's a dangerous practice. As the Fool reminds King Lear in Shakespeare's play:
"That sir which serves and seeks for gain,
And follows but for form,
Will pack when it begins to rain,
And leave thee in the storm."
The president faces rough seas in the days ahead. He'd be wise to heed the Fool's warning.