Couple of thoughts on Amit Paley’s much chattered about WaPo story on conservative disaffection with No Child Left Behind. First, I think the lede does overstate the stakes a little bit:
…one of [Bush’s] biggest political liabilities in achieving that goal comes from an unlikely source: his former aides.
I think the bigger problem is the Hill and the revolt there, which Paley reported a few months ago. That predates any of this more recent flip flopping, those guys hated this all along. Next on the list would be the NEA-driven insurgency against the law (a second insurgency the Administration failed to plan well for, I should add…) because they see this law as a huge public relations problem…if people find out that some schools aren’t doing so well they might want, you know, reform.
Then it’s this sort of second thoughts stuff, which matters more to the Beltway game than anything else but does matter nonetheless. In fact, Paley buries one reason why it might matter, and one reason for some of the friction until the end of the story:
Some former senior department officials said they have a strained relationship with Spellings over first-term disputes and her second-term agenda. That friction might hinder her efforts to gain support from key education groups and lawmakers for renewal of No Child Left Behind, several senior officials said. Many of those groups and lawmakers have close ties to top officials from Bush’s first term.
That’s true, and in Washington the personal is political, so this is an issue.