ANALYSIS:

Thinking about Strategies--and Survival Politics

by Fred Cederholm
The public is sick of politics and politicians.
I’ve been thinking about strategies. Actually I’ve been thinking about Libby, petitions, elections, polls, the "2 to 1 ratio," and survival politics. The off-year elections are almost a full year away; yet we are witnessing events that are triggering a level of political strategizing and posturing unseen in my lifetime as a devoted news and political junky.

You see, under "normal" circumstances, the incumbent politicos (and the incumbent wannabes) would merely be getting their troops to circulate petitions to get them on the spring primary ballots. Things are clearly different this time around. I’ve been in my traditional fall-of-the-odd-year-petition-signature-gathering mode for a few weeks now. I’m circulating two this time because Illinois State Senator Brad Burzynski isn’t up for re-election in this go-around. I’m still getting signatures for State Rep. Bob Pritchard and US Congressman Don Manzullo—two incumbents I like and respect. But boy, am I getting an earful about how dissatisfied the public is about the current status of local, state and national affairs, regardless of their party affiliation!

The public is sick of politics and politicians. They are most unhappy about where we are and where we are headed regarding just about any point I bring up. The primaries are four months away, with the actual elections a year off. The national media is already hitting the next election cycle with polls and commentaries—and they traditionally don’t start covering it in earnest until the candidates begin shelling out the big bucks for the political ads. What is going on here?

Republican incumbents are already becoming squeamish about being too cozy with the "W" administration.
Days after his indictment, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby pled not guilty and waived his right to a speedy trial, preferring rather to begin his defense sometime in January. Neither should have come as a surprise given the Libby persona and the meticulous case set forth by inquisitor Patrick Fitzgerald. Sometimes the best (and only) defense strategy is to stall. Postponement should prove a worst case scenario for Bush, Cheney, Rove, and the core of the Bush camp of Capitol Hill.

We all know that Fitzgerald will subpoena the White House inner circle to testify in the Libby case. We all know they will stonewall, claiming executive privilege, a sort of backdoor method to claim Fifth Amendment protection. This dance will take time, and should delay wider revelations of culpability and deception regarding the invasion of Iraq until the time of the primaries. Will the drama drag on further, into the fall election campaigns?

Republican incumbents are already becoming squeamish about being too cozy with the "W" administration. Think back to how quickly the Bush Social Security "60 cities in 60 days" blitz suddenly dropped off the map once the incumbents of both parties began to listen to their constituents. The first rule of politics is to get re-elected. That doesn’t happen when you ignore the will of your constituents.

The first rule of politics is to get re-elected. That doesn’t happen when you ignore the will of your constituents.
This past week saw a plethora of polls showing continued erosion of support for Bush and his policies. Given current facts and perceptions, this came as no surprise. What was surprising was the consistent "2 to 1" results of the polling regardless of the questions asked. For every respondent who was indifferent to or supported the Bush agenda, there were two who held negative opinions or opposed it. This does not bode well for the Bush camp.

Normally, when an American President travels abroad, his polling numbers go up. Not so this past week when "W" traveled in Central and South America, where he met with opposition and protests at every stop. The President was as out of touch with our neighbors to the South as he is with the majority of his own citizenry. Did he finally get that message?

If you are a Republican who is up for election or re-election next November, how do you strategically tell this President that he needs to clean house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, that he must change the direction of his policies and agenda, that he must come clean with the American public and the world, that he must stay out of their campaigns, and that they must distance themselves from him if they are to get elected?

Time will tell. I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.


Copyright 2005 Questions, Inc. All rights reserved. Fred Cederholm is a CPA/CFE, a forensic accountant, and writer. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois (B.A., M.A. and M.A.S.). He can be reached at asklet@rochelle.net.

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This story was published on November 11, 2005.