[following a summary of Bush's consistently sub-40 approval ratings and increasingly 60+ disapproval ratings]This is the scenario that we must have. I have been repeating over and over again that impeachment is not that important, that it could even be counterproductive if there's not a public clamor for it. Yes, it would tarnish Bush's reputation, but that ship has already sailed, in case you hadn't noticed. Assuming Democrats retake the House next year (possible but far from inevitable), I'm guessing that by the time impeachment proceedings forced Bush out one way or another, and assuming that Cheney is gone as well and has not been replaced, then yes, we could shave a year off of Bush's term. Big whoop.
So where does all this lead? We busted through the 40 point floor a long time ago. We have now busted the 60% disapproval ceiling. What's next--29% disapproval? Is that our goal? And after that, is it another arbitrary number? Or is Bush's resignation / impeachment our goal?
In a word, no. Now that we have passed 60% disapproval, there are no more numeric goals when it comes to Bush's disapproval. Sub-35 would be nice, but it is not necessary. The goal now is realignment. Bush's disapproval is so high, and his position as the face of the Republican Party is so assured, that it is now possible to envision a vast national realignment away from the Republican Party based primarily on backlash against Bush-ism (aka, contemporary conservatism). [Examples from '66-'68, '80, and '92-'94]
Bush's approval is now low enough for a realignment to take place in 2006 and 2008. A realignment is far more important to Democrats and progressives than Bush's impeachment or resignation could ever be. This is a generational event and, considering the timing of previous realignments, 1968, 1980 and 1992-4, the timing also suggests that the opportunity is ripe. Also, the realignment will clearly come from Independents, not disaffected Republicans, as Jerome first envisioned several months ago, and as I have also documented as well. As Ruy Teixiera has called it, the opportunity before us is the Indycrat realignment.
This is it. This is our chance--our once in a generation window. If we keep Bush's approval low, results like we saw for Paul Hackett on August 2nd and across the country on November 8th will become the norm. Apart from withdrawal, I'm not even sure we need a major platform adjustment or roll-out. People pretty much already know what we stand for. As long as they grow convinced that Bushism doesn't work, they will come over to our side.
What's important is not getting rid of Bush; what's important is getting rid of the Republicans, or at the very least shattering their current stranglehold on power. And for that to happen, Bush must be synonymous with Republicans in voters' minds. I hope Chris is right about Bush being the face of the Republican party, because as things get worse for him, Republicans are going to start trying harder and harder to distance themselves from him. It's going to be up to their Democratic opponents to keep reminding voters of all the times Senator Dubya-Doesn't-Speak-For-Me (R-Weaselvania) stood with Dubya and said he could do no wrong, and voted for every single one of his disastrous policies. The same goes for capitulators like Lieberman and Biden and Landrieu, because we need an effective, voting majority, not just a nominal one.
As Chris says, it's up to the Democrats to capitalize on this golden opportunity. Will sitting back and letting the Republicans implode be enough? It might be, but why leave it to chance? If the roles were reversed, the Republicans would be merrily kicking us in the crotch, so why not return the favor? Reid gets this, and Dean gets this, but the Democratic party is still full of Shrums and Braziles and DLC sellouts who don't. We have to win the battle for the soul of the Democratic party before we can even begin to fight the battle for the soul of the country.