- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Emboldened congressional Democrats have turned up their rhetoric when talking about President Bush, comparing him to Richard M. Nixon and using sharp language that conjures up images of secluded dictators.

“The president’s in his bunker on both the war in Iraq and Attorney General Gonzales,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said yesterday. “What everyone else sees clearly he doesn’t see at all, and that’s a real problem for our country.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada advanced the same idea, saying: “The president is as isolated, I believe, on the Iraq issue as Richard Nixon was when he was hunkered down in the White House.”

Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, chairman of the Democratic caucus, has labeled Mr. Bush’s war strategy the “fairy tales and rose-colored glasses plan for Iraq.” Mr. Emanuel, who worked in the Clinton White House, also recently urged his colleagues in a policy memo to portray Mr. Bush as pursuing a “stay-the-course, status quo strategy.”

“The president remains incredibly weak and at odds with public opinion. … His approval rating streak is now in the ballpark of Richard Nixon’s in the months leading up to his resignation,” read the Emanuel memo, first reported by the Associated Press.

Christopher Sands, a senior fellow at conservative-leaning Hudson Institute, said the “isolation” language allows the Democrats to paint the Bush administration as defensive and stubborn, and to try to control public opinion by getting voters to compare the president to Mr. Nixon during Watergate.

“This is the standard line now,” he said.

When asked on CBS’ “Face the Nation” about the Bush-Nixon comparison, Vice President Dick Cheney dismissed the Democratic rhetoric as a “ridiculous notion.”

Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat, accused Mr. Bush of acting like a “spoiled child,” saying it is a role the president has had “all his life.”

Mr. Bush’s own posture has changed since he offered the Democrats an olive branch after they gained control of Congress in November. Instead of working toward bipartisan cooperation as he initially promised, the president now accuses the Democrats of wanting to “undercut our troops” by including a withdrawal timetable in the Iraq-spending bill.

“They passed bills that would impose restrictions on our military commanders and set an arbitrary date for withdrawal from Iraq, giving our enemies the victory they desperately want,” the president said April 14 in his weekly radio address.

Mr. Sands said Republicans are wise to paint the argument as winning or losing in Iraq, because most voters would agree they would rather win.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, raised some eyebrows last month responding to Mr. Bush’s pledge to veto the war-spending bill. “Calm down with the threats. There is a new Congress in town,” she said.

In a recent television interview, Mrs. Pelosi said: “The president is not king.”

Congressional Republicans have plenty of their own zingers, but they are able to use them less now that they are out of power on Capitol Hill.

But the term “Defeatocrat” often resurfaces, and Republicans say Mrs. Pelosi has “squandered the American people’s good graces” since assuming the speakership in January.

Calling her “General Pelosi,” the Republicans accuse the speaker of pushing a plan to “micromanage the troops.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky refers to the Democrats’ timetable for troop withdrawal as a “surrender date.”

Republicans called last year’s comprehensive immigration plan, which passed the then-Republican Senate with 62 votes, the “Reid-Kennedy bill” after the two Democrats.

The problem with that label is that Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts was the only Democrat who sponsored the bill, authored by Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and five other Republicans, including the current chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Last month, Mr. Reid had said: “When books are written about what has gone on in this administration, I don’t know anything positive that has happened yet.”

The colorful language extends beyond references to the president.

Mr. Reid has said Republicans blocking the Democrats’ Medicare prescription-drug bill are “owned” by the pharmaceutical lobby. He said Republicans cozy up to those lobbyists, who walk around in “Gucci shoes” and ride around in limousines.

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