Some folks are wondering "Can Bush be defeated in the next election?" I guess they're thinking of how close the last election was (*cough*) and figuring that any gains he makes will actually win him the 2004 election. This, to me, misses that candidate Bush will not be running in 2004. President Bush is.
Bush's biggest strength in his campaign (aside from the fact that he was up against Gore -- don't get me started) was the complete hogwash that he was feeding the American people. One presidential term or so later, we can look back and see through it all.
Here's a good example. Return with me, if you will, to the 2000 presidential debates. It's October 12, 2000. The election is getting close. The subject: Foreign Relations.
If we're an arrogant nation, they'll resent us; if we're a humble nation, but strong, they'll welcome us. And our nation stands alone right now in the world in terms of power, and that's why we've got to be humble, and yet project strength in a way that promotes freedom.That was Gore, right? Oops - hang on, no that was Bush.
I'm not so sure the role of the United States is to go around the world and say this is the way it's got to be. We can help. And maybe it's just our difference in government, the way we view government. I mean I want to empower people. I want to help people help themselves, not have government tell people what to do. I just don't think it's the role of the United States to walk into a country and say, we do it this way, so should you.Hey -- who is this guy? He sounds fairly reasonable. We've got to be humble? Sounds good to me. Of course we don't want to alienate our allies. We need to work with them. The war on terrorism is going to require the whole world's help, as are any number of pressing problems (emergent diseases, environmental concerns... heck, trade).
Can anyone reasonably say that G.W. Bush has practiced this humility he preached to a receptive public in 2000?
Just yesterday (to choose one example from the many we've had these last years):
George Bush poured fuel on the flames of the Iraq contracts dispute yesterday with a sneering dismissal of a suggestion by the German Chancellor that the decision to bar Germany, France Russia and Canada from bidding might violate international law.Who is this joker? Not the candidate who grabbed almost half of the popular vote in 2000, I think. Where's the humility?
"International law? I'd better call my lawyer," the American President joked in response to a reporter's question at the White House.(Bush laughs off critics of 'spoils of war' bidding - THE INDEPENDENT)
There's no going back. Folks that use the 2000 election as any sort of metric for 2004 fail to realize that candidate Bush is not running. The person who the Democratic candidate will face in 2004 is the person who hid behind the hogwash the last time around. The fact that he weaseled his way into many of the votes he got, spinning a yarn that sounded sweeter than his true intentions, rankles. It rankles not only his long-time opponents, but those who feel betrayed after voting for the other Bush. The promised, but not delivered Bush. The uniter. The compassionate.
(As a gratuitous Friday treat, here's some Jon Stewart coverage of Bush's Thanksgiving surprise)