Republicans: Fight Amongst Yourselves
The difficulty Congress had in passing the intelligence reform bill – Republicans squabbling among themselves – may be the first of many such intra-Party struggles. Now that Republicans have a “mandate” in the White House and an iron grip on both houses of Congress, individual egos are starting to assert themselves more forcefully, at the expense of party unity.
Tom DeLay has criticized Bush for his handling of the intelligence reform bill, and for postponing tax reform until 2006. Several Republican senators are either against Bush’s plan for overhauling Social Security, or are anxious to promote their own Social Security overhaul plans. And at least one Republican, Lindsay Graham, S.C., actually remembers the Party’s own “States’ Rights” slogans, and plans to derail Bush’s plan for a federal cap on medical damage awards.
Immigration may be the biggest inter-party feud. Bush wants to grant guest-worker status to a large number of undocumented immigrants. And from the opposite direction, House Republicans are determined to crack down on illegal immigration. Catfight!
Some of the new Republicans in Congress are more conservative than Bush, and are more interested in their own political agenda than in promoting unity with the White House.
Some Republican leaders (Tom DeLay again) have decided that they, along with Bush, have also accumulated lots of political capital and are intending to spend it. Some others have started resenting the ironclad control that Bush and Rove have had over them since the 2002 midterm elections, and they’re determined to re-establish their independence.
In other words, Republicans are finding out what Democrats used to know first-hand: the larger a party’s majority, the harder it is to impose party discipline. Start the infighting!