Bush Speech Fractures Right, Prompts Race for Letters to the Editor

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins isn’t the only right-wing leader unhappy with President Bush’s State of the Union speech.

“We’re disappointed that he didn’t mention cultural issues at all,” said National Review editor Rich Lowry. The Institute for Policy Innovation, a strong supporter of Bush’s plan two years ago to privatize Social Security, now asserts that he “lacked leadership in that he failed to propose any [specific] solutions.” Bush “left a lot of conservatives shaking their heads” with the speech, according to Bill Lauderback of the American Conservative Union. A spokesperson for Gary Bauer’s American Values lamented that the president “lost a golden opportunity to set the stage” by emphasizing right-wing issues.

Rick Scarborough, a key organizer of politically-charged “Patriot Pastors,” claimed Bush was beholden to the Religious Right to take up their causes:

While the president spoke, I couldn’t help but groan inwardly as I reflected on the squandered opportunities of the past six years of a “conservative” majority. As he concluded his remarks with “God Bless,” it dawned on me that the speech didn’t contain even a passing reference to the issues that sent millions of Christians to the polls in 2000, 2002 and 2004 – making Bush a two-term president and giving his party a majority in Congress for six years – the first time in more than half-a-century that Republicans controlled the presidency and both Houses of Congress. Whatever else they voted for….Values Voters did not turn out in past elections so their concerns could be ignored the day after the election. Is it any wonder that so many us stayed home last November?

Anti-immigrant members of Congress, led by Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colorado), held a press conference to denounce the looming prospect of comprehensive immigration reform. “I am disappointed but not surprised that the President has once again chosen to trot out this same old pig – albeit one with a slightly new shade of lipstick,” said Tancredo, who called Bush “tone deaf,” despite Republicans’ recent loss of control of the House after a year of pushing draconian immigration measures. Tancredo added that “The president worked hard to get a Congress that agrees with him on this and now he’s got it. But we’re still going to fight him on it.”

And direct-mail pioneer and right-wing icon Richard Viguerie declared it was “clear” from the speech that Bush “is surrendering the domestic agenda to the Democrats.” Viguerie called on his readers to write letters to the editor and call radio talk shows:

So, I urge you to use whatever forums are at your disposal to speak out—email, blogs, letters to the editor, calling in to your favorite talk radio show, op-ed articles, etc.   Let’s send a message to the Big Government Republicans that we are not in their hip pocket, and we expect the GOP to faithfully represent and fight for the conservative positions that brought them to power.

Oddly enough, the new chairman (not to be confused with the new “general chairman”) of the Republican National Committee, Mike Duncan, had a similar suggestion in an e-mail yesterday:

Last night, President Bush laid out a comprehensive and innovative agenda for our nation for the upcoming year.  The President’s initiatives focus on issues of importance to all Americans, from foreign policy and the War on Terror to improving access to health care and continuing to grow our economy.  Now, we need your help to ensure that his agenda becomes a reality. 

Here are two ways you can help right now:

a.. Write A Letter to Your Editor spreading the word about this bold new agenda
a.. Call Talk Radio and tell them why you support the President’s agenda, and why they should too.

If the Right separates into these two factions, perhaps we can look forward to two more years this internecine conflict playing out with these letters to the editor and radio call-ins. On the other hand, it could be as ACU Chairman David Keene put it: with Democrats in control of Congress and 2008 presidential candidates already lining up, “People are looking past Bush.”