There are elements in the Republican Party who are trying to turn the GOP into the victim party. No matter how much they've won, they want to see themselves as losers.
An e-mail I received from a reader summed up the resentment that has been bubbling up all over the GOP. She had liked Fred Thompson and Duncan Hunter as GOP hopefuls and didn't know if she would vote for John McCain.
"I began to rethink my allegiance to the Republican Party last summer with the immigration reform bill after party leaders told the rank and file to screw themselves," she wrote. "I do not object to Republican leadership having a collegial relationship with Democrats. What I object to is that they always get hosed when they 'compromise' in the 'spirit of bipartisanship.' Bipartisanship, by definition of the Dems and the media, is doing it the Democrat way. Ronald Reagan, when explaining his departure from the Dem Party, said he didn't leave the party so much as the party left him."
I've received many e-mails with the same sentiment. It's odd that those very voters, whose outrage obliterated the immigration bill (which contained amnesty provisions), somehow feel as if they lost that battle.
But they won. They killed the bill. Twice. McCain now promises to secure the borders before proposing a path to citizenship. Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton says that she opposes driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. The Bush administration has beefed up deportation of "immigration fugitives," (illegal immigrants in violation of deportation orders) and is going after employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants.
Bipartisanship means Democrats win? In 2006, Democrats took over Congress. Yet because President Bush has not backed down on Iraq, the Nancy Pelosi-led House and Harry Reid-led Senate are funding the war including the troop surge, which Democrats opposed.
Washington has not made the Bush tax cuts permanent, but the cuts are still on the books and in Americans' wallets. Bush promised to work with Democrats on an economic stimulus package. He wanted tax rebates for taxpayers and tax cuts for businesses. Democrats wanted "rebates" for those who don't pay income taxes, an extension for unemployment benefits and increased subsidies for heating assistance and food stamps. Last week, Democrats agreed to a package that gave Bush what he wanted. While they won smaller rebates for those who pay no income tax, as well as payments for seniors and disabled veterans, the Dems didn't get the Christmas tree they wanted.
Congressional Democrats thought they had Bush in a corner when they passed a $35 billion expansion in federal funding for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Bush vetoed the bill, then vetoed a second bill. He insists that eligibility be limited to children in families that earn no more than 2 1/2 times the poverty level.
Here's another biggie: After eight years in which President Bill Clinton nominated big-government justices, Bush managed to place two solid conservatives not conservatives in name only in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Bush is a lame duck whom the left has written off as hopelessly stupid yet he still manages to command Beltway policy despite a Democratic majority. Indeed, Democratic leaders, who once thought they were so smart, now look feckless before partisans who were convinced a Democratic Congress would force Bush to pull out U.S. troops from Iraq and show the world an America that cuts and runs when the going gets tough.
Still, some conservatives want to believe that they get no respect, that their side isn't getting anywhere. Like Democrats, they want to be victims. They can always wait until 2009. Then they just might find out what not getting their way really means.