The Washington Times - September 22, 2008, 02:57PM

The financial sector mess has freed conservatives up to be as brutal as they want to be in attacking the Bush administration.

Take Sen. Jim DeMint, for example, who not only said he would not support the new $700 billion Bush bailout plan, but said the administration itself has now lost all credibility: “It’s a sad fact, but Americans can no longer trust the economic information they are getting from this administration.”

John McCain has not committed to supporting the bailout, and opposition among Republican in Congress is likely to build further, particularly with today’s news that the dollar is dropping and oil prices are rising.

Of course splits between Congress and the White House have been predicted before: notably after the Medicare prescription drug bill passed in 2003, and again when Bush tried to press ahead in 2006 with allowing Dubai Ports to take over operations at some U.S. ports.

But each time, Republicans decided they needed Bush, and supported his war effort. With McCain as a new champion, we’ll see just how much they need Bush now.

Stephen Dinan, national political correspondent, The Washington Times