Skip to comments.Advantage Bush
Posted on 01/23/2004 9:25:39 PM PST by RWR8189
They would have preferred Dean, but the Bushies are still confident.
Manchester, New Hampshire EVEN BEFORE Howard Dean's campaign began to fall apart, President Bush's underlings were paying attention to Dean's rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination. As the Iowa caucuses drew near, I chatted with a Bush operative at a rally for John Edwards. He was checking out the Democratic senator's campaign apparatus and stump spiel. He held a large Edwards sign in his hands. No doubt other Bush supporters were keeping tabs on Senator John Kerry and retired General Wesley Clark. That's smart politics.
The emergence of Kerry and Edwards in Iowa and Dean's collapse have been widely treated as bad news for Bush. And it's partly true. Dean would probably be the easiest Democrat for Bush to beat. Kerry and Edwards are far more electable. But Dean at least has the money to combat Bush from the time the nomination is locked up, probably in February or early March, until the conventions in late summer when public financing begins. Kerry and Edwards don't, though Kerry could tap his wife's largesse. Also, Iowa drove Dick Gephardt from the race. He was more feared as a potential opponent by the Bush team than either Kerry or Edwards.
If Bush strategists ranked the Democratic candidates as threats to Bush, the list would look like this: (1) Senator Joe Lieberman, (2) Gephardt, (3) Edwards, (4) Kerry, (5) Dean, (6) Clark. And since they regard the Lieberman campaign as dead, too, Bush advisers count the two toughest opponents for Bush as eliminated. Lieberman was feared because he's a centrist with a strong appeal on values issues, a point Lieberman himself made at the last New Hampshire debate here. Gephardt was viewed as a serious foe because of his Midwest roots, personal decency, and what one Bush aide calls his "authentic populism." Gephardt would have challenged Bush in states like Ohio and Missouri that the president won in 2000 and possibly thwarted Bush in states he lost but hopes to pick up this year (Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania).
For more than a year, Republicans have been vetting Kerry. Is he vulnerable? Oh, yes, because of his 19-year record in Congress. Bush aides can rattle off Senate votes on national security issues they would use to knock Kerry: votes against the B1 bomber, against the Abrams tank, against the Patriot missile, against the $87 billion to fund the military in postwar Iraq, against full funding for the CIA as the terrorist threat grew. And the Bush camp disputes Kerry's populist credentials since Kerry and his wife are worth roughly $500 million.
Edwards is more competitive than Kerry, if only because his record in Congress is shorter (five years). That means he has little experience in national policymaking, which is a handicap but hardly a disabling one. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were elected with little experience on the national stage. Edwards is in the odd position of running for president explicitly on his supposed electability after deciding not to seek reelection in North Carolina, where his prospects for a second term were no better than 50-50. Edwards may be a greater threat to Senator Hillary Clinton for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination than he would be to Bush in 2004.
What the Iowa caucuses didn't do was prompt the Bush campaign to accelerate its campaign plans. Bush's State of the Union address did not mark the kickoff. Instead, the campaign will go full-throttle when the Democratic nominee is clear. The longer that takes, the better from Bush's viewpoint. The campaign will spend in excess of $100 million, mostly on TV ads. The shorter the period in which Bush goes head to head, the more likely these ads will produce shock and awe.
Let's assume Dean is the political equivalent of Bruce Willis in the movie "The Sixth Sense"--that is, dead but he doesn't know it. And assume Clark, who isn't taken seriously by the Bush operation, won't be the nominee. Where does that leave Bush in the five major issue clusters against Kerry and Edwards? Let's see.
* National security. The issue here is the two wars, terror and Iraq. Kerry and Edwards scarcely mention Iraq anymore, except when asked. The Bush team interprets this as their having concluded the war issue helps Bush, not them. This is true. Dick Morris's idea that Bush must bring the troops home to win reelection is nonsense. What Bush needs is real progress in Iraq on military and political fronts. And Bush can make the case, as he did last week, that the war on terror is going well. Advantage Bush.
* Economy and taxes. Kerry and Edwards benefit from wanting to keep the Bush tax cuts for the middle class. That helps against Dean but less against Bush. The economy is roaring and the stock market is climbing, but the jobs picture could give Kerry or Edwards an opening. Bush is still 2 million jobs short of where he started in 2001. Advantage Bush (for now).
* Education. With passage of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, Bush neutralized the education issue, long a Democratic talking point. But Democrats have pounded him for not spending more, and his hold on the issue has eroded. He's beginning to fight back, but not as aggressively as Kerry and Edwards are attacking. Advantage Democrats.
* Health care. This is the best Democratic issue. Sure, Bush got a prescription drug benefit for the elderly, but polls show the public isn't appreciative. Meanwhile there's strong support for more government aid on health care. Bush will never be able to out-promise Kerry and Edwards. Advantage Democrats.
* Culture. One of the most politically potent passages in the State of the Union was Bush's take on gay marriage. It was a threefer, attacking judicial activism, gay marriage itself, and (by implication) Kerry's home state, Massachusetts, whose supreme court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. Advantage Bush.
The president has another advantage, the ability to alter the political landscape, at least briefly. He can command the nation's attention at any time, change policies, announce new initiatives, meet with foreign leaders at summits, and so on. In their first big political test in Iowa, neither Kerry nor Edwards showed the ability to create openings on his own. They were reactive, and they got lucky. Kerry got the endorsement of an ex-Green Beret whose life he saved in Vietnam. The fellow, whom Kerry hadn't seen in 35 years, phoned out of the blue. Edwards played off the bitter squabbling in speeches and ads between Dean and Gephardt. To beat Bush, Kerry or Edwards will have to do a lot better.
Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.
Last night someone posted these quote from the democrats and I saved them.
All the Bush team has to do is run an AD on the T.V. that starts off with President Bush saying "Hello, As you know, Me and my Administration have been accused of decieving all of you out there who are watching this commercial that I approved and paid for with the generous support many of you have shown the "Bush/Cheney 04" Campaign, Please read the following quotes and ask yourself who is decieving you? Is it The Bush Administration or is it those who want my Job?"
"[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the
U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if
appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond
effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of
mass destruction programs."
Letter to President Clinton, signed by Sens. Carl Levin,
Tom Daschle, John Kerry, and others Oct. 9, 1998
"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show
that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological
weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program.
He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al
Qaeda members. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam
Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and
chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons."
- Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY),Oct 10, 2002
"One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to
develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them.
That is our bottom line."
- President Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998
"If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear.
We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass
- President Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998
"Iraqis a long way from [here], but what happens there matters a great
deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use
nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the
greatest security threat we face."
- Madeline Albright, Feb 18, 1998
"He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten
times since 1983."
- Sandy Berger,Clinton National Security Adviser, Feb, 18, 1998
"Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass
destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and
he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process."
- Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D, CA),Dec. 16, 1998
"Hussein has ... chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass
destruction and palaces for his cronies."
- Madeline Albright, Clinton's Secretary of State, Nov. 10, 1999
"There is no doubt that ... Saddam Hussein has invigorated his weapons
programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical and nuclear
programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf War status. In addition,
Saddam continues to redefine delivery systems and is doubtless using the cover
of an elicit missile program to develop longer-range missiles that will
threaten the United States and our allies."
- Letter to President Bush, Signed by Sen. Bob Graham (D, FL,) and
others, December 5, 2001
"We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a
threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the
mandate of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction
and the means of delivering them."
- Sen. Carl Levin (D, MI),Sept. 19, 2002
"We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical
weapons throughout his country."
- Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002
"Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to
deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is
- Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002
"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and
developing weapons of mass destruction."
- Sen. Ted Kennedy (D, MA),Sept. 27, 2002
"The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are
confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and
biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to
build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Intelligence
reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons..."
- Sen. Robert Byrd (D, WV),Oct. 3, 2002
"I will be voting to give the President of the United States the
authority to use force-- if necessary-- to disarm Saddam Hussein because
I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his
hands is a real and grave threat to our security."
- Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA),Oct. 9, 2002
"There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working
aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear
weapons within the next five years ... We also should remember we have
always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of
weapons of mass destruction."
- Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D, WV),Oct 10, 2002
"He has systematically violated, over the course of the past 11 years,
every significant UN resolution that has demanded that he disarm and
destroy his chemical and biological weapons, and any nuclear capacity.
This he has refused to do"
Rep. Henry Waxman (D, CA),Oct. 10, 2002
"We are in possession of what I think to be compelling evidence that
Saddam Hussein has, and has had for a number of years, a developing
capacity for the production and storage of weapons of mass destruction."
- Sen. Bob Graham (D, FL),Dec. 8, 2002
"Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal,
murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime ... He presents a
particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to
miscalculation ... And now he is miscalculating America's response to his
continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction
... So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is
- Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Jan. 23. 2003
"Thank You for watching, I'm George W. Bush and I approved this message"
I think that is a legitimate concern. There have been a lot of divisive issues amongst the ranks of Republicans and tradionally conservative voters, which are not necessarily the same.
Extended Discussion of John Kerry's Enron Hypocrisy:
Senator John Kerry often bashes President Bush as to how Enron and other power companies have influenced the administration's energy policy. Kerry has used Enron as a pejorative adjective to describe dubious policies. Moreover, he gave $1000 to an Enron worker's relief fund because it had originated as a campaign donation from a wind company which was an Enron subsidiary. On the campaign stump, he charges corporations with having adversely impacted American democracy.
NonprofitWatch.org agrees with the Senator regarding his critiques of Enron and corporations, but suggests that this criticism should also be directed at his wife Teresa Heinz.
For eight years Teresa maintained a close relationship with Ken Lay. Since 1995 Mr. Lay served as a trustee of the Heinz Center for Economics, Environment and Science which Teresa founded to memorialize her late husband. Teresa, as well Fred Krupp the executive director of Teresa's main environmental philanthropy Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), also served as trustees.
Oddly, Mr. Lay served as a trustee even after Enron's demise -- a pamphlet obtained from the Heinz Center in the spring of 2003 listed him as a trustee affiliated with Lay Interests LLC. This seems odd in light of Kerry's highly critical comments of Enron.
It is probable that as a wealthy trustee of the group, Mr. Lay was a major donor to the project; about this NonprofitWatch.org has no information, but this should be something for Teresa and the Heinz Center to reveal to the public.
In light of Enron's demise and Ken Lay's leadership role in the scandal-ridden company, his service as a trustee is a poor commentary upon the work of the Heinz Center, besides being an embarrassment to the memory of Mr. Heinz.
Nah--won't happen. Crazy Ross will be back & give the ''conservative'' nutters somewheres to put their little old ''X''.
The fact is that Congress is out of control and it's our job to complain to them. If we added up the last ten years of unnecessary pork spending that these congress critters have attached to every important piece of legislation. There would be no deficit
Because it is a silly cliché' that has no practical meaning in the real world and especially politics. Every United States President from George Washington to George W. Bush has had some element of evil in their make-up.
Perot is not a conservative.
That's not the point. I said the ''conservative nutter'' crowd would vote for him & now you're trying to interject logic into the equation????
huh?? this admin has proposed social security for mexicans, going to Mars and all kinds of spendng... and you think they'll get tough on Congress?
In my opinion, this is very good analysis by Fred Barnes.
That it is.
Congress is just giving away lunch money compared to that
wow. with a compliant Congress that will pass almost anything I want them to?? They do such a good job of giving Bush anything he wants that he hasn't had to veto a thing.
They are in simpatico with each other.
Bush allocated something on the order of 1 billion for the next 5 years. I am not sure where you are geting your numbers.
What president Bush has proposed is if a Temporary Worker who has no plans of applying for residency, and have paid SS for the 3 years of their work permit, he proposed that they could reclaim the money they paid into SS and that money would be an incentive for them to go back to Mexico.
I understand that you are an enraged single issue so called true conservative who if could be granted a single wish, would ask for a 40 foot wall around our country, But for God's sake, get your facts straight so you don't look like a simpleton. You guys float around to every thread and do your best to turn every thread into a spitting match over illegals, There is plenty of threads on that topic, please stay on this threads topic
Can you list the actual figures? Do you even know what the fiscal budget figures are? Or are you just going after the usual flame baiting rhetoric?
Privatize the TSA, stop renting aerial fueling jets when its cheaper to buy them. No airline bailouts for Mrs. Daschle
Hold down all spending to 2 or 3% except for homeland defense, military and border patrol... and stop giving money for limo's and liquor for USO celebs.
and what happens to American citizens who owned those SS numbers?? what of them?? are they to lose out on their benefits in favor of illegals??
This is happening to some people
I hope you all watch "Oprah". As usual.
That's the Third Pary bullcrap in a nutshell.
I don't know about you, but I would love for an illegal alien to pay into SS using my SS number.
You are either very young or you have an IQ below room temperature, Which is it?
private screeners didn't mess up.. it was NOT illegal to bring boxcutters on the plane at the time.