Bush and 2004: Put a Fork In Him
I’m going to step out on a limb here sixteen months before the election. I know that polls this far out can be argued as meaningless. And with nine candidates running in opposition, a true gauge of opposition strength is diluted. That, plus the fact that regrettably Saint Ralph Nader appears to be running again and assessments this early can be problematic. But I have looked at polls over the last six months, including a batch just posted to PollingReport.com. And after looking at those polls, some of them taken through yesterday, I conclude that George W. Bush is done. Put a fork in him.
Why? Shouldn’t we be afraid of the Mighty Wurlitzer and Karl Rove? Won’t they just steal the election again? Perhaps these are problems that should keep us up at night, and with TruthCorps-type ideas, we can counteract these advantages. But if you look at the issues ahead of us, and consider that Bush has lost the integrity issue over the Iraq WMD lies, and then factor in the voters’ views on the direction of the country, you see that Bush has incumbency and money going for him in the coming months, but not much else. Realists would say that this is enough, but the issues and declining numbers on his alleged areas of strength indicate that he will need all of that money and the perks of office.
There will continue to be at best a jobless recovery between now and next year’s election as the Bush economic plan does nothing to spur demand and truly create jobs. He has lost the ability to force the nation to follow him into Iran or North Korea because a majority will no longer trust him on his claims of security threats. The Democrats are finally running TV commercials attacking the GOP on their Medicare drug claims. And this is before Bush tries to run issue ads on Social Security this fall, when Democrats will get a chance to counter his privatization plans with reminders of Enron and a lack of corporate accountability.
In the last four weeks, two major polls show that majorities have returned to doubting the direction of the country under Bush.
Voters now have rethought the wisdom of going into Iraq.
Two polls completed last this week show that Bush’s job disapproval ratings are approaching or passing pre-Iraq or pre-9/11 numbers. And this was while Rove was trying to prop up his numbers in Africa and before the fallout from the Tenet maneuver yesterday is fully realized next week.
Most notably, the Newsweek poll concluded yesterday shows that a two-way race with John Kerry is a tie within the margin of error, with Dick Gephardt not far behind. The same Newsweek poll shows that Bush’s elect numbers are only one point ahead of those who don’t want his election in 2004 (47/46). So much for getting a bounce out of the tax cut and Iraq.
Yes, I know it is early. Bush will still be able to claim a solid 40-42 percent base for 2004 that will stick with him even if he nuked Mexico. And he will outspend the Democrats by 4-1. But if you had told me that the integrity issue for Bush would have collapsed so quickly due to the Iraqi WMD lies two months ago, I would not have believed it.
The Democrats are back in the game, and can make an effective issue now about Bush’s fundraising and his beholdenness to corporate interests at the expense of the public interest. Given the soft economy, the 9/11 bullet coming his way when the upcoming report tags him for ignoring warnings in the Summer of 2001, and his inability to redirect attention to another war, I think Bush still has room to go down.
As W would say himself, “bring it on.”