2008 A BIGGER ROUT THAN 2006?….Political Wire provides an excerpt from the latest Evans-Novak Political Report:

The gloom pervading the Republican Party cannot be exaggerated. The long-range GOP outlook for 2008 is grim….A nationally prominent Republican pollster reported confidentially on Capitol Hill after the President’s speech that if U.S. boots are still on the ground in Iraq and U.S. blood is still being spilled there at the end of the year, the GOP disaster in 2008 will eclipse 2006.

I’m not sure how seriously to take this. Robert Novak is obviously pretty plugged into Republican politics, but he’s also a longtime war opponent and may simply be cherry picking the gloomiest pronouncements making the rounds.

Still, it’s pretty ironic. As we reported several months ago (“A Higher Power”), the whole point of James Baker’s Iraq Study Group was to avert the looming self-immolation of the Republican Party by providing George Bush with a plausible, bipartisan plan to get out of Iraq:

“Baker is primarily motivated by his desire to avoid a war at home–that things will fall apart not on the battlefield but at home. So he wants a ceasefire in American politics,” a member of one of the commission’s working groups told me. Specifically, he said, if the Democrats win back one or both houses of Congress in November, they would unleash a series of investigative hearings on Iraq, the war on terrorism, and civil liberties that could fatally weaken the administration and remove the last props of political support for the war, setting the stage for a potential Republican electoral disaster in 2008. “I guess there are people in the [Republican] party, on the Hill and in the White House, who see a political train wreck coming, and they’ve called in Baker to try to reroute the train.”

So given this chance of an honorable exit, what does Bush do? He furiously dismisses Baker’s report as “a flaming turd” and instead insists on pursuing a strategy that virtually nobody thinks will work. The damage this is doing to our country is obviously the most depressing aspect of all this, but if there’s any kind of silver lining it’s the fact that Bush’s tantrum-based foreign policy is apparently taking down his entire party with him. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch.

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