It's often called a good cop-bad cop routine. I think of it as playing both sides of the political street. The purpose of the Bushian mixed signal strategy is to keep the voter base happy with cheap rhetoric while actually doing something else.
They did it quite successfully on gay marriage during the 2004 campaign. The President huffed and puffed self-righteously in front of news cameras about an amendment to ban gay marriage. Meanwhile, Dick and Lynne Cheney openly cooed about their gay daughter and whispered that they disagreed with the President's position.
Predictably, after the election, a ban on gay marriage disappeared from the Bush Administration agenda. They didn't really care about it much at all. It was election year rhetoric. Nothing more.
Can you ever imagine Cheney, Rumsfeld or Rice disagreeing publicly with the President on say, Social Security, the War in Iraq or Homeland Security ? Of course not. No President in recent memory has been less amenable to actual disagreement.
But public disagreement as contrivance to send mixed messages is Bushian strategy. George Bush is a grossly underestimated politican. This ploy works brilliantly and without exception on a gullible voter base.
It happened again yesterday. A close advisor confessing, in hushed voice, disagreement with one of George Bush's far right-friendly election stances. From NBC's "Meet the Press" yesterday...."MR. RUSSERT: You told the Washington Times on Friday you were mildly pro-choice. What does that mean?
DR. RICE: It means that like many Americans I find the issue of abortion very difficult. I believe it ought to be as rare as possible. Nobody wants to see anyone go through that. I favor parental notification. I favor a ban on late-term abortion. But I, myself, am not a fan of having the government intervene in the laws.
MR. RUSSERT: You would not outlaw it?
DR. RICE: No."
Last Thursday, the US backed off its long-held insistence that the UN declaration on women's equality make clear there is no international right to abortion. US Ambassador Ellen Sauerbrey announced the change, saying that abortion policy should be decided on a national, not global, level.
The very next day, Dr. Rice suddenly confided to a newspaper that she's "mildly pro-choice." Once again, the President stays pure with the voter-friendly stance, and his aide sends the mixed message. Good cop, bad cop.
So.......we now know that the Bush Administration doesn't really care about abortion all that much. Abortion is a negotiable value, depending on the political circumstance.
So the two key reasons the "faith and values" voters used to ratchet up support for George W., gay marriage and abortion, are actually negotiable. Bush doesn't care THAT much about abortion and gay marriage. He never did.
He saves his strongest non-negotiable passions and values for war, tax breaks for the wealthy, tearing down Social Security and passing bankruptcy "reform" that rewards credit card companies.
The ten states hit the hardest by the Bush bankruptcy "reform" are all Republican-red states. The ten states most negatively affected by the Bush 2006 budget are all Republican-red states. And if his Social Security "reform" passes, the ten states hit hardest by it would all be Republican-red states.
Hmmmm.....are those the moral or religious values George Bush claims to monopoiize within his far-right voter base?
Truthfully, I feel a bit sorry for the "faith and values" voters who got sucked into the Bush/Cheney campaign cheap talk about gay marriage and abortion. They must feel terribly betrayed and more than a bit naive.