"The single word most frequently associated with George W. Bush today is 'incompetent,' and close behind are two other increasingly mentioned descriptors: 'idiot' and 'liar.' " So says the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, whose most recent poll found that only 33 percent of the public approves of the job President Bush is doing.He says beyond just the failure of Bush, "we're looking at the failure of a movement....Most of the conservatives now rushing to distance themselves from Mr. Bush still can't bring themselves to criticize his actual policies."
In light of the abysmal polls, those on the right see it politically expedient to criticize in general an unpopular president, but when it come to specifics, they're very careful. They avoid bashing all of the many things gone wrong in the last five years -- most of which are policies and actions long endorsed by the right and yet provide for the fuel behind GW's low poll numbers -- and instead attack the easy stuff, like overspending. They'll always go to the well when it comes to badmouthing "handouts' to the "lazy" poor or even pork projects, though conservatives have ruled the roost for the last half decade and are more guilty of such wasteful spending than liberals. Also, it's funny how you didn't hear any of them criticize the president for this runaway spending when 1) Bush's numbers were better, and 2) when the spending helped their chances for reelection.
Krugman writes how they "can't criticize the decision to start this war without facing up to their own complicity in that decision" nor can they pounce on the mismanagement of the war given their "years of insisting that things were going well in Iraq and denouncing anyone who said otherwise." (He also quotes William Kristol saying we never made a "serious effort" in Iraq; uh, $500 billion and 2300+ US soldiers dead = not serious?).
The bottom line is right wingers are finding it easiest to shoot the down-and-out messenger and not the message. The messenger is exceedingly lame with limited political life, yet the message continues to be this mythical bunch of hooey that many Americans still believe in -- like brainwashed zombies. To attack the message is to attack the very foundation of what these rightwing politicians run on. If they begin to peck away at the core beliefs, most of which have been tried and failed in the last five years, then they've got nothing left.
Although it's fundamentally wrong, what they're doing makes sense when you consider their alternatives -- they have none. Hello, Democrats, are you listening? ATTACK!