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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: June 2012

6 - With Enemies Like These


What we need is harmonious, consistent, responsible party government, instead of a wide dispersion of function and responsibility; and we can get it only by connecting the President as closely as may be with his party in Congress.

– Woodrow Wilson

Keep your friends close, and your enemies even closer.

– Michael Corleone, The Godfather: Part II


In January 2001, Republicans were perceived as being in an excellent strategic position as they took over the reins of power. Despite losing the popular vote for the presidency and having to endure a protracted vote dispute in Florida, Republicans had emerged with the presidency, a tiny majority in the House, and – by virtue of Vice President Dick Cheney's tiebreaking vote – nominal control of the evenly divided Senate. Despite his party's razor-thin control of the legislative branch, by most accounts, President George W. Bush came out of the gates quickly and benefited from substantial early successes in governing. Democrats, in particular, seemed to resent the comparatively smooth sailing that Bush and the Republicans enjoyed early in their unified government. According to critics within the Democratic Party at the time, congressional Democrats “essentially rolled over and are letting Bush have his way. They don't believe Democrats have a real strategy for taking the guy on.” However, Democrats soon received support from an unexpected source: Bush's fellow Republicans.