Response by Rick Thigpen
The political use of the war in Iraq was largely responsible for the re-election of the President in 2004. It now appears that those who won by the sword are poised to lose by the sword in 2006.
The President and his political allies are going to have a devil of a time avoiding being defined by their Iraq policy as they face this always difficult midterm election. The only viable political option appears to be to try to persuade Americans to refocus their attention away from Iraq and onto the war on terror. I shudder when I think about what the Administration might be tempted to do to get Americans to forget about the missteps, the mistakes and the misjudgments in Iraq that now define the Bush Administration and Congressional Republicans in the minds of the electorate.
For any Republican running statewide in New Jersey, Iraq has become a very difficult political problem. It is increasingly clear that President Bush has lost independent voters on Iraq. A new high of 46% of Independents say he is doing a poor job as President with another 37% rating his performance as only fair. Despite all of this, the real bad news for New Jersey Republicans is that the White House could probably care less about the political havoc it is wreaking for its party in this state. This fall, President Bush may just turn out to be the best friend Democrats have in New Jersey.
Comment by Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind Academic Associate, Rick Thigpen (J.D., Columbia University Law School). Rick is a former Executive Director of the New Jersey Democratic Party, now a principal in 1868 Public Affairs. He is also a campaign coordinator for the Essex County Democratic Party. Rick Thigpen, Esq. can be reached at (609) 394-0888.