House and Senate Republican leaders and their aides, still stung by the November elections, are showing a remarkable lack of enthusiasm for President Bush's plan to push ahead with greater spending for the war in Iraq as well as domestic ventures like Social Security and federal budget reforms.
One aide conceded: "There's a little payback there." Many Republicans believe the election losses were heavy because of the public's dissatisfaction with the president's handling of the war. They feel betrayed by Bush, who stuck with his failing agenda and controversial former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld until after the election.
GOP leaders are also miffed at the lack of special attention they received from the White House either in invitations to special events or staff-to-staff contacts in recent years and don't feel the type of strong and loyal tie to the White House that is more common. What's unlikely, however, is that any GOP leader will criticize Bush or the White House as the president girds to battle the new Democratic majority.
But, said one leadership aide, the administration will be "on its own" to build the relationship with the Democrats that the president will need to push through controversial agenda items.
By Paul Bedard