Tuesday :: Sep 9, 2003

The World According to Dick Morris: Hillary and Al Reconsider 2004

by Steve

For your entertainment this afternoon, I wanted to post for you what Dick Morris said in his column in the New York Post today. First, Morris claims that due to Bush’s sudden vulnerability, both Hillary and Al Gore are currently reassessing their plans not to run in 2004.

Second, Morris claims that national Democrats are pressuring both Hillary and Gore to get in the race because “Bush is tanking”, and because without Hillary or Gore in the race, Dean will get the nomination. Morris compares Dean to McGovern, and sees a 1972 parallel to 2004 if Dean gets the nomination.

And how does Morris suggest Bush stop his slide? Refocus the war against terror by picking a new target: Iran.

Bush's poll numbers continue to tank. The Zogby poll has his job approval at 45 percent, a drop of seven points since August and 19 since last year. (Zogby's methodology generally understates job approval, but the downward trend is unmistakable). The Fox News/Opinion Dynamic poll shows that Bush would get only 50 percent of the vote in a trial heat against Gore. It would be a rerun of 2000 - and we'd still be waiting up all night to learn the count in Florida.

But the Democrats know that the president has an ace up his sleeve: Howard Dean. This ultra-liberal, who Bush could defeat with his eyes closed, is racing into the lead in the Democratic field.

So Bush can hope Dean's surge continues and presents a McGovernesque target for him in November. But Democrats are slowly waking up to the possibility that they may have the '04 election in their grasp, only to throw it away on the Dean candidacy. This is generating tremendous intra-party pressure on Gore and Hillary to run.

My guess is that Hillary would be just as happy to see Dean win the nomination and get slaughtered in November by Bush.

But Gore may suddenly see a real possibility of a straight run for the nomination and a general-election win. A review of the donor lists of the Democratic contenders shows that most of the former vice president's money people are still sitting out the race. Were he to run, Gore would force out most of the other Democrats and likely make quick work of Dean. In November, Gore would enter the election as the favorite against Bush.

But Hillary would be most unhappy to see Gore get the nod. Since Al would be a good bet to win, her nightmare scenario of a Bush defeat and no open field in 2008 would be coming to pass. So should Gore begin to make a move, Hillary will likely get into the race to pre-empt him.

The White House must realize the temptation the president's low ratings pose for Gore and Hillary, and understands that if Bush's numbers keep sinking the pressure for one or both of these heavyweights to run may prove irresistible.
So Karl Rove et al are scrambling to raise Bush's numbers in the crucial next 40 to 50 days, during which Hillary and Gore must make their move or watch the filing deadlines for the primaries pass them by.

Hence the speech to the nation on Sunday, the TV movie about Bush on the same night and the focus on the 9/11 anniversary, all designed to raise the president's polling and keep the big guns out of the Democratic presidential sweepstakes.

Why is Bush falling so badly? The superficial reasons are the Iraq casualties, the failure to find WMDs and the continuing inability to round up Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. But the real reason is that terror is receding as an issue, largely due to Bush's success.

The solution for Bush is to put terrorism back on the front burner by high profile and aggressive action against Iran and/or North Korea. It's not necessary to wag the dog, but Bush should wag his tongue and raise the profile of these two remaining threats to our security.

The world according to Dick Morris. I chuckled when I read that the Sunday Iraq speech was aimed by Rove at getting Bush’s numbers back into the 50’s to keep Gore and Clinton from getting in the race. I also laughed when Morris tells us that terrorism is a receding issue due, when the truth is that more and more people don’t feel any safer, and Bush’s numbers there are going down as well.

So, of course Morris’s prescription is for Bush and Rove to repeat their misdirection play from 2002 and gin up another war, this time with Iran. Yet, knowing Rove the way we do, this is not so far-fetched.

Having said all of this, I do think it is plausible that Gore is having second thoughts. And after what he went through in 2000, some of it due to his own mistakes no doubt, he would obviously want to wait to see if more favorable circumstances materialized before getting back in. A reentry by Gore would not collapse the Dean campaign, but it would collapse some of the others almost immediately, namely Gephardt and Graham, and possibly Edwards. Kerry would be wounded, as would Lieberman. But at this point it is all speculation based on God knows what Morris is thinking and hearing from (imaginary) friends.

As for Hillary, she and the former president seem to be engaging in just enough pot-stirring to keep things interesting until good buddy Wesley Clark gets in.

Steve :: 2:54 PM :: Comments (12) :: Digg It!