The Frontier Post, Pakistan
America's Momentous Verdict at the Polls

As the skeletons of sleaze and sex started falling out of the party's cupboard and Bush's war in Iraq grew increasingly unpopular, their defeat at the hustings had become inevitable.


November 8, 2006
Pakistan - Frontier Post - Home Page (English)    

President George W. Bush arrives for a 'day after' press
conference at the White House, Nov. 8. (above and below).

—C-SPAN VIDEO: White House press conference with
President Bush, where he responds to the resounding
rejection of himself and his party in the midterm
elections, Nov. 8, 00:43:11

RealVideo[SLIDE SHOW: U.S. Midterm Elections].

—BBC NEWS VIDEO: Bush and his Cabinet before
'lunch' with Democratic leaders, Nov. 9, 00:03:10RealVideo

President Bush and his cabinet prepare
to meet Democratic leaders, Nov. 9.

Pakistan is not what one would call 'Bush Country.' Pakistani tribesman
(above) chant 'Death to Bush,' after a recent attack on a school said to
have been linked to al-Qaeda. At least 80 tribespeople were killed.

—BBC NEWS VIDEO: Protests erupt in Pakistan after
an attack on a religious school that killed 80 people.
Protesters blame Washington, Oct. 31, 00:01:29

RealVideo[SLIDE SHOW: Pakistan].

Practicing a popular form of arts and crafts in the Northwest Frontier
Province of Pakistan, tribesmen tear an American flag to shreds.

Corpses of tribesman killed after a government attack on what was
described as a religious school. About 80 people were killed in the
attack by Pakistan forces, which was carried out with the help of U.S.
intelligence. The school was in the Bajaur tribal region bordering
Afghanistan (see map at bottom). Pakistan says the school was
harboring al-Qaeda fighters.


Though President Bush was not a candidate in this U.S. midterm elections, this was very much a referendum on his presidency. And by handing a decisive victory to his opponents the Democrats, the American electorate has expressed an overwhelming lack of confidence in his leadership. It has forced Bush to kiss a humiliating defeat.

Not only have the Democrats carried a bigger chunk of the gubernatorial contests, after 12 long years in the cold they have wrenched control of the House of Representatives from Bush's Republicans. They are now poised to give America its first-ever female speaker of the lower house. As we went to press, the Democrats were locked in a photo-finish for control of the upper house, the Senate. But even if they don't win the Senate, Democrats will have more that enough strength to give Mr. Bush a very hard time.

But this humiliation of Mr. Bush and his Republican Party was not unexpected. As the sleaze, sex and skeletons began falling out of the Party's cupboard and Bush's war in Iraq grew increasingly unpopular, their defeat at the hustings had become inevitable. Only the extent of their humiliation remained in doubt.

Nevertheless, this castigating electoral outcome raises many new uncertainties about Mr. Bush's presidency. Even ordinarily, at the tail end of their terms in office, American presidents become lame ducks. This weakness will no doubt in this case be doubly true, not just because of Democratic opposition, but by virtue of the predictable lukewarm support of his own Republican flock. Because although Bush has no more terms in office to seek, his party's lawmakers may. The American Constitution restricts a president to two terms, but no such restriction it stipulated for the lawmakers. They can run for office for as many terms as they like, and many do.

From this stems Bush's next serious debility. As he enters the final years of his second term, Bush's Republican Congressional flock - especially in the Senate where one-third of lawmakers run for office every two years - may not be quite as willing to support him. This is especially true given his plunging approval ratings which were so bitingly reflected in these elections.

His dwindling clout on Capitol Hill may well deal a crippling blow to his White House, since the American Congress plays a decisive role in the making of domestic and foreign policies. More crucially, it also holds the nation's purse strings. This shows clearly that Mr. Bush won't have the freedom of action he enjoyed when Congress was under Republican control. Henceforth, he will be greatly hamstrung in his actions both domestically and internationally. And his voice will now carry much less weight abroad, where his interlocutors will not be as respectful and deferential as they were in the past.

But the verdict of these polls will be equally testing for the Democrats, both for the present and for the presidential race coming in 2008. At home of course, how they conduct themselves over hot and controversial issues like immigration will be keenly watched. But prying American and foreign eyes will also be bearing down on Democrats over how they handle issues like the war in Iraq, which comprised the main plank of their campaign. Thus far, except for demanding a timetable for troop withdrawal, all Democrats have done is vehemently denounce Mr. Bush's stay-the-course policy, proposing no specific alternatives for getting out of the Iraqi quagmire. All in all, after this midterm election, America is indeed an interesting place to watch.