The GOP's Trust Problem

Cheating and quitting don't inspire confidence

By Robert A. George
|  Monday, Aug 10, 2009  |  Updated 10:22 PM CDT
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The GOP's Trust Problem

ASSOCIATED PRESS

GOP figures like Sarah Palin are ruining the party's reputation -- even as Democratic poll numbers continue to tank.

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The public is increasingly skeptical of congressional Democrats on a number of levels, according to a new CNN poll,. The favorable opinion of the Democratic Party is down six points since February and is now just barely over 50 percent and an earlier 15-point Democratic margin over which party would be better running Congress has dropped to ten percent. 

When added to other polls showing serious erosion in President Obama's approval and personal popularity, one would think that this is great news for the Republicans.

Except it's not. 

In the same poll, the GOP's favorability has inched up only two points. Why wouldn't there be more of movement to the Republicans given the seeming disjointed messages coming from the Democrats -- and the still rocky economy? 

Aside from the fact that the country is only nine months from an election that derisively put Congress in Democratic hands, maybe the public just doesn't trust Republicans yet. 

There's the past sins, yes, where Republican President George W. Bush and the former GOP congressional majority ran up historic debt. But while Obama and the Democrats are ratcheting up even more red ink, the GOP isn't just offering opposition: The party is producing headlines that leave a very unsavory impression. 

Over the last few months, the average American could fairly assume that the only things Republicans were focused on were cheating on their spouses -- and quitting their jobs. 

Consider the roll call: 

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford -- one-time possible presidential candidate hooked up with an Argentine cutie -- and after publicly trying to keep the marriage together, his wife moved out of the governor's mansion last week. The governor may have also broken state law by using state aircraft for personal matters;

Nevada Sen. John Ensign -- cheated with one employee - who's married to another employee - and got his parents to pay off the couple;

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin -- quit her office with 18 months left in her term, and departed with two rambling confusing speeches;

Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, the party's former general chairman and most prominent elected Latino -- after announcing earlier this year that he wouldn't be running for re-election, abruptly declared last week that he would be leaving before the end of his term. His last official act was voting to confirm Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. 

That first three of these GOP figures, who had at one time been considered possible presidential candidates, demonstrate the problematic condition of the party.  And don't forget - Sarah Palin is still in the running.

Sure, there are a lot more GOP leaders out there. Not all of them are compromised, but the ones getting the big headlines are doing the party no favors. 

Why shouldn't the public be distrustful of a party whose prominent faces seem to be either cheating on their wives -- or quitting on their constituents? 

Thankfully, the midterm elections are 15 months away. There's still a lot to be done to restore the party's reputation.  Meanwhile, hoping for the continued chaos and ineffectiveness on the Democratic side is the best Republicans can do for now. 

New York writer Robert A. George blogs at Ragged Thots. Follow him on Twitter

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