As titular head of the GOP for his two presidential terms, George W. Bush held three disparate constituencies together by promising them all their dreams tied up in pretty red bows. To the religious right, that gay marriage would be banned by a Constitutional amendment and that his Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade.
To the neoconservative Middle-East interventionists, largely brought to the table by his father and Dick Cheney, that he would remake the region in the image of American democracy by force, if necessary.
To the pragmatic pro-business types, who fetishize any tax cut no matter how much long-term damage it does to the economy, that he would make government smaller and less expensive.
And to America at large, Bush pretended to be a compassionate conservative, a moderate who could appeal to the suburban women who vote in great enough numbers to make the difference in close contests.
Trouble was, Bush couldn’t satisfy the gay-hating evangelicals without abandoning his compassionate rhetoric. And he couldn’t dramatically remake the Middle East without spending billions, which gave the low-tax people the vapors. The quagmire he led us into in Iraq has made it impossible to continue the neoconservatives’ forced-democracy march into Iran.
(Don’t even get former Bush supporters like the vigilante border-patrollers started on his work with the immigration issue; after all his “path to citizenship” talk, they refer to him as “Jorge.”)
All three of his chief constituencies, which together made up Bush’s 51 percent margin of electoral supremacy, have been disappointed by his presidency. All three have been angered and now are seeking their salvation (some, literally) in candidates of their own choosing, without the burden of the others’ interference.
Worse, by selecting the aging and unhealthy (not to mention staggeringly unpopular) Cheney as his vice president, Bush is left without a natural successor, someone even those who enjoyed his divisive term could look to for uncomplicated continuance of the past eight years’ political reality.