GOP memo touts new terror attack as way to reverse
By DOUG THOMPSON
Publisher, Capitol Hill Blue
Nov 10, 2005, 06:19
A confidential memo circulating among senior
Republican leaders suggests that a new attack by
terrorists on U.S. soil could reverse the sagging
fortunes of President George W. Bush as well as the
GOP and "restore his image as a leader of the American
The closely-guarded memo lays out a list of scenarios
to bring the Republican party back from the political
brink, including a devastating attack by terrorists
that could validate the Presidents war on terror
and allow Bush to unite the country in a time of
national shock and sorrow.
The memo says such a reversal in the President's
fortunes could keep the party from losing control of
Congress in the 2006 midterm elections.
GOP insiders who have seen the memo admit its a risky
strategy and point out that such scenarios are blue
sky thinking that often occurs in political planning
The Presidents popularity was at an all-time high
following the 9/11 attacks, admits one aide.
Americans band together at a time of crisis.
Other Republicans, however, worry that such a scenario
carries high risk, pointing out that an attack might
suggest the President has not done enough to protect
We also have to face the fact that many Americans no
longer trust the President, says a longtime GOP
strategist. That makes it harder for him to become a
The memo outlines other scenarios, including:
--Capture of Osama bin Laden (or proof that he is
--A drastic turnaround in the economy;
--A "successful resolution" of the Iraq war.
GOP memos no longer talk of victory in Iraq but use
the term successful resolution.
A successful resolution would be us getting out
intact and civil war not breaking out until after the
midterm elections, says one insider.
The memo circulates as Tuesdays disastrous election
defeats have left an already dysfunctional White House
in chaos, West Wing insiders say, with shouting
matches commonplace and the blame game escalating into
This place is like a high-school football locker room
after the team lost the big game, grumbles one Bush
administration aide. Everybodys pissed and pointing
the finger at blame at everybody else.
Republican gubernatorial losses in Virginia and New
Jersey deepened rifts between the Bush administration
and Republicans who find the President radioactive.
Arguments over whether or not the President should
make a last-minute appearance in Virginia to try and
help the sagging campaign fortunes of GOP candidate
Jerry Kilgore raged until the minute Bush arrived at
the rally in Richmond Monday night.
Cooler heads tried to prevail, one aide says. Most
knew an appearance by the President would hurt Kilgore
rather than help him but (Karl) Rove rammed it
through, convincing Bush that he had enough popularity
left to make a difference.
Bush didnt have any popularity left. Overnight
tracking polls showed Kilgore dropped three percentage
points after the Presidents appearance and Democrat
Tim Kaine won on Tuesday.
Conservative Pennsylvania Republican Senator Rick
Santorum told radio talk show host Don Imus Wednesday
that he does not want the President's help and will
stay away from a Bush rally in his state on Friday.
The losses in Virginia and New Jersey, coupled with a
resounding defeat of ballot initiatives backed by GOP
governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in California have set
off alarm klaxons throughout the demoralized
Republican party. Pollsters privately tell GOP
leaders that unless they stop the slide they could
easily lose control of the House in the 2006 midterm
elections and may lose the Senate as well.
In 30 years of sampling public opinion, Ive never
seen such a freefall in public support, admits one
Democratic pollster Geoffrey Garin says the usual
tricks tried by Republicans no longer work.
"None of their old tricks worked," he says.
Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) admits the GOP is a
party mired in its rural base in a country that's
becoming less and less rural.
"You play to your rural base, you pay a price," he
says. "Our issues blew up in our face."
As Republican political strategists scramble to find a
message any message that will ring true with
voters, GOP leaders in Congress admit privately that
control of their party by right-wing extremists makes
their recovery all but impossible.
Weve made our bed with these people, admits an aide
to House Speaker Denny Hastert. Now its the morning
after and the hangover hurts like hell.