Before the passing of the Detainee Bill, John McCain, Lindsey Graham and John W. Warner, spoke out against it. This led many Republicans in the Senate to align themselves with McCain, Graham, and Warner, hurting the political clout of President George W. Bush within his own party. Although the bill passed, its bumpy road revealed some Republicans desires to distance themselves from the president before the midterm elections.
On the issue of torture, President Bush has been a vocal proponent of using “any means necessary” to elicit information from suspected terrorists. Bush has kept this merciless stance on prisoners of war even in the face of harsh criticism. Just this past Friday, according to CBS News, the E.U. counterterrorism coordinator Gijs de Vries, stated that the “suspected human violations” at the Guantanamo Bay prison, which holds many alleged terrorists, “have diminished American standing in the world.”
Yet, Bush has stated that he will not change his position on this issue; however, with the three dissenting senators coming forward, the president has lost major political ground.
These three senators objected to the administration’s desire to define the Geneva Convention’s language on torture; these men argued that if the language in the Geneva Convention was defined, then it would make America vulnerable if other countries changed their standards on the treatment of captured Americans, according to CNN. These three men represent a microcosm of what is occurring in Congress right now. Many Republican senators, during this midterm election year, are up for reelection. The feeling among many Republicans is to distance themselves from the president in order to win in November.
With Bush’s public approval ratings standing at 44 percent, according to Chicago Tribune, it is no wonder that many Republicans would distance themselves. This midterm election is important to the Republicans. Many publications and political analysts such as as the New York Times, expect that the Republicans will lose control of the House.
According to The Hill, a Congressional newspaper based in Washington, “House Republicans in suburban Philadelphia, for instance, have run ads and sent direct mail pieces distancing themselves from the president on immigration and Iraq.” While many naysayers will say that the Republicans are abandoning their president, it is for the survival of their party. Washington is a cutthroat atmosphere that requires many to abandon, betray and even dishonor their party or friends in order to get ahead. Does anyone remember how many Republicans were investigated in the Jack Abramoff scandal?
However, it will not go well for the Republicans, as they must unify against the Democrats. The truth is that the American people, according to the polls, and the many people speaking out against the administration, are ready for a change. These midterm elections will be a litmus test for the presidential election in 2008. The Democrats will not run away with Congressional seats, but they will show the Republicans that their party is on the way down.
In the 2004 election, the GOP was a party that called itself the “big tent party,” meaning it could house many different ideas and ideologies. Two years later, many in the party feel that their party’s big tent message might misconstrue their message to their constituents.
With the president’s failure in Iraq, his possible human violations in Guantanamo Bay, his close relationship with the Middle East leaders who are neither our allies nor enemies, the Republican message has been muddled. These three GOP senators are trying to salvage the party’s image in the eyes of the American people; no, these men are not like the president. They have American’s best interests at hand. But will it be enough to win in November?