Spinning a moderate Bush
I see the Republican's midterm election strategy, a leak highlighting a much more reasonable and moderate Bush resisting the more extreme elements.
"Cheney was dead set against it," said one former official who sat in many of those meetings. "At its heart, this was an argument about whether you could isolate the Iranians enough to force some kind of regime change." But three officials who were involved in the most recent iteration of that debate said Mr. Cheney and others stepped aside — perhaps because they read Mr. Bush's body language, or perhaps because they believed Iran would scuttle the effort by insisting that the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty gives it the right to develop nuclear fuel. The United States insists that Iran gave up that right by deceiving inspectors for 18 years.
In the end, said one former official who has kept close tabs on the debate, "it came down to convincing Cheney and others that if we are going to confront Iran, we first have to check off the box" of trying talks.
The strategy, as I see it, seems to be to take Bush to the center in an attempt to take the fire out of the national rage. Immigration might be another example. The thinking would be that this would reduce the passion of those who might vote against their congressman as a vote against Bush.
On the other hand, this also would allow Republican Congressmen from deep red districts to both take up more extreme positions on issues like immigration to pull their base out to vote and also to show independence from Bush, lessening his effect depressing local Republican turnout.
So, the theory is, a more moderate Bush to stop the national centrist movement against the Republicans, but a more active local message to get the Republican turnout. It's a pretty brilliant strategy considering the hand the Republicans have been dealt, but it hinges on the ability to keep Bush a lower profile issue in local races, and it also presumes no other nationalized Republican fiascos, either massive administration errors, a further degradation in Iraq, or nationalized Republican scandal.So, at this point, I think that is the strategy, and it has been declared. Now the question is, how do the Democrats respond to renationalize the election? I really think they're better off waiting til late summer to fire their shot. It will be interesting.