Wednesday :: Apr 16, 2003

Bush at His Zenith-Part One


by Steve

It can be safely argued that George W. Bush is the top of the political heap at this moment. Overseas, Iraq turned out better than even he probably had hoped, notwithstanding the losses to the Iraqis, their culture, or our standing in the Arab world. His steadfastness to not negotiate directly with North Korea worked, although he is now sucked into a negotiation with China acting as Pyongyang’s protector. He has bluffed his way possibly into another problem with Syria, but now faced with the opposition of Russia and Britain to a military strike against Damascus, and with the emergence of a troubling Syria/Turkey/Iran alliance, he has wisely put the kibosh on active planning for a strike. And polls show that voters have jacked up his approval rating for his handling of foreign policy, and have switched off their attention overseas, with this positive feeling of his accomplishments locked in.

Regrettably, continuing to dwell on ongoing difficulties on the ground in Iraq is fruitless since your average TV viewer has tuned out with our “victory.” With the White House selling a victory, their stenographers at CNN/Fox/MSNBC can now rein in their expensive coverage overseas and return viewers to their regular diet of profit-generating crime and sex fluff.

Domestically, Bush returns his focus to passage of his tax cut, which he sells on the basis of its growth qualities, when it is clear that a dividend tax elimination for rich seniors does virtually nothing to create jobs and pump spending. Yet voters say on one hand that they oppose further tax cuts during a time of war, and then on the other hand say that they feel overtaxed. Nevermind that it is clear that tax burdens for many are at their lowest levels in years. The truth is that he has sold voters on the notion that they are overtaxed, and they have told him they are against tax cuts in wartime. So what does he do? He continues to sell a tax cut while taking steps to eliminate the feeling that we are still at war, by telling us that we have finished our regime change and have lowered our threat level today to “yellow”. Clever isn’t it?

Polls show that Bush would even be the choice of Californians for reelection now. California!

Consumer confidence is up, with the war “over.” The market is steadily going up. Poll numbers are up, with the critical block of Independent voters swinging Bush’s way right now. And while this is going on, the gaggle of nine Democratic challengers struggle to get airtime, and fail to offer alternate agendas.

It is a good time to be George W. Bush.

What can Democrats do? Rove and Bush’s history shows that Rove keeps Bush on a strict message discipline, and Bush has never focused on more than four issues in any campaign. Those same issues are pounded over and over again, and Bush is not allowed to free-lance. The Democrats need to identify those four issues that Bush will run on as soon as possible. We know already that fear/national security, tax relief/jobs, and a Medicare drug benefit will be three of them. The fourth will either be patriotism or something else.

The Democrats need to identify alternatives to Bush’s solutions on those issues and be able to sell those alternatives, which will be all the more difficult given the gaggle of nine. They should also sell the voters on a positive vision for our future, something lacking from Bush even at this late date. And the environment, and the true impact of another four years of Bush on the Supreme Court and our freedoms is another issue that needs to be placed front and center.

But who among the gaggle of nine is the best candidate to do the above?

Steve :: 11:07 AM :: Comments (29) :: Digg It!