Skip to comments.Will 2004 Bring A Second Bush Term?
Posted on 01/05/2004 6:01:30 AM PST by yoe
Things did not look good for President George W. Bush in the summer of 2003, but he has entered the New Year with many happy returns indeed. He has rebounded nicely in most of the areas that bedeviled him during the troubled months and now appears poised to win reelection. But it is still a long way to November and in politics, like life, there are no guarantees.
Yet there is no question that the presidents team is heading into 2004 breathing easier than just a few months ago. President Bushs job approval ratings are on the upswing, he leads the entire Democratic field in pollsters trial match-ups and his campaign coffers are awash with contributions as he has managed to outpace even the Democrats most prodigious fundraisers. His party remains unified behind him no major Republican, not even a has-been perennial symbolic candidate with the stature of the late Harold Stassen while nationally known Democrats like Zell Miller and Ed Koch have begun to break ranks and endorse him.
Then there is the unmistakable momentum of issues starting to break his way. One by one, the talking points and news events the Democrats have been picking up to bludgeon the president are being taken away like toys with sharp edges from a toddler.
Good news had been elusive on the economic front for much of Bushs tenure, but that has started to change recently. The economy grew 8.2 percent in the final quarter of 2004, the fastest growth rate in 20 years. The stock market is ascendant. Even manufacturing sector growth has far outstripped expectations; the Washington Post reported that the pace of new orders has reached levels not seen since 1950 while the Institute for Supply Managements Purchasing Managers Index reached 66.2 percent, the highest since late 1983. Manufacturing jobs grew for two straight months at the end of 2003 after a long period of decline. Jobless claims are the lowest they have been during Bushs presidency. The lower marginal tax rates on income, capital and dividends are proving to be more than a boon to the rich as they provide needed stimulus to the whole economy.
Theres also been progress on the international front, most notably the capture of Saddam Hussein. It remains to be seen whether placing Saddam in U.S. custody will mark the turning point in the Iraq, where the postwar occupation has proved more difficult than major combat operations. But it certainly has a number of political effects. No longer can the Democrats trumpet Saddams whereabouts a foreign-policy failure for the administration. Wiser Democrats are likely to be more reluctant to make similar claims about Osama bin Laden or perhaps even weapons of mass destruction for fear that future revelations will discredit their talking points.
Notwithstanding most of the reporting and commentary, however, the Bush administration has not committed our troops to Iraq merely to hunt for Saddam and WMDs. The purpose of the mission called Operation Iraqi Freedom was to alter the balance of power in the Middle East in ways more hospitable to the West (particularly America) and less hospitable to al Qaeda terrorists. Although a large part of this was to be done in part through the establishment of a free, democratic Iraq as a precedent for freedom in the region an accomplishment that still seems remote at this writing the claim that the operation might yield political and strategic benefits is starting to look more plausible.
The most recent example: Libya. Muammar Gaddafi has opted to open his country up to intrusive weapons inspections and begin to disarm, at least in part because he was fearful of what American power had done in Iraq and to Saddam. If followed by evidence of conciliation and reform from area countries ranging from Syria to Saudi Arabia, the Bush foreign-policy position will grow stronger. Its a cliché to say that 9/11 changed everything, but one thing it did change was the relative importance of foreign affairs and national security in the politics of an orange-alert world.
But its possible that the biggest advantage Bush has reaped in recent months hasnt been anything he has done or anything within his control. It has been the metamorphosis of the Democratic Party as MoveOn.Org and the Democratic Underground have supplanted the DLC and other sane elements in the partys center of power. This shift among the Democrats has propelled Howard Dean from an insurgent backbencher to the front-runner for the nomination. Once considered a model New Democrat while governor of Vermont, Dean has successfully channeled and tapped into the anger, resentment and even hatred the most passionate Democrats feel toward Bush and their intense opposition to the Iraq war.
The problem for the Democrats is that the majority of the country does not share this hostility toward Bush anymore than they shared the rights crusading dislike for Bill Clinton in the 1990s. To win, Dean must tack back to the center and appeal to voters beyond the Democratic base. Perhaps he will do this easily. He does have some Libertarians for Dean and even Republicans for Dean supporters who arent exactly Democrats from straight out of central casting, mainly driven by their opposition to the Iraq war and concern for civil liberties in the wake of the Patriot Act and its coming sequels. Whenever I write critically of Dean using the conventional arguments hostile to the ideology of big-government liberal Democrats, I receive e-mails reproachfully reminding me of his fiscally responsible centrist credentials.
Aside from the inescapable reality that either his moderate or far-left supporters, each of whom appear to be projecting their own political philosophy upon their candidate, are going to end up being disappointed, as Dean has gotten closer to the prize he has seemed ever more determined to prove Republicans right who intimate that he is too extreme and too, well, unbalanced (his Democratic opponents prefer angry) to be president. He regards the notion that Bush knew about 9/11 in advance as an interesting theory. He recently said hed like to avoid pre-judging bin Laden before he could get a fair trial. When informed of a conspiracy theory that Bush would try to stay in office past his term (some right-wingers concocted similar conspiracy theories supposing that Clinton would manufacture a Y2K crisis to avoid stepping down at the conclusion of his term), Dean credulously replied that hed heard that too.
To be sure, there is a constituency for these ideas. It doesnt take much of a Google search to find websites authoritatively repeating them. But these are not mainstream views likely to bring swing voters onboard the Dean campaign bandwagon. This is why many leading Democrats break into a cold sweat thinking about the possibility of Dean as the nominee; strategists of both parties are starting to see 1972 all over again, when President Richard Nixon trounced George McGovern in a 49-state landslide.
Nevertheless, it is still premature to conclude that 2004 will be a mere replay of 1972. For one thing, it is not 1972. The country, as the USA Today 2000 electoral map so famously showed, is more divided politically and on the major cultural questions than it was back then. The liberal rebels who supported McGovern then and Dean today were hippie college students thirty years ago; Dean is also popular among retro-hippie college students, but a lot of yesterdays McGovernites are comfortable middle-class, suburban establishment types today. The party of acid, amnesty and abortion to which the American Spectators Jeremy Lott recently added gays, graft and groupthink draws on an entire culture of the same.
(Excerpt) Read more at intellectualconservative.com ...
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I doubt it. They've already road tested these measures and think they can spin their way out of it. After all, what ya gonna do, vote for a democrat?
GWB looked just fine in the summer of 2003, despite the efforts of the raving loonies in the media who tried to trump up one thing after another.
What has happened now is those efforts have been exposed as the empty rhetoric that they were.
IF those things happen, it will not be good for Bush.
I don't think the RNC is too concerned over those who stay home, after all it's going to be a blowout. I think C3PO and absentee ballot is the only way to send a message. As far as sending the guys cash, after CFR no national or even state party will ever get another dime from me.
I am a Republican for Dean -- but only because I believe that he is unelectable. Hence my hope that he will be the Democratic nominee.
I'll take that bet. $1000.
There will be fewer third party votes this year than in 2000.
You're a disrupter here, aren't you?
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