Thursday, October 14, 2004

October for Bush has been a slippery slide

I have to admit, I am quite surprised at where the U.S. finds itself today--not so much in regards to the high unemployment rate or the escalating violence and terrorism that the Iraq war has precipitated; here, unfortunately I think myself and many other Americans have become accustomed to the constant bad news--rather, I am surprised to find that the presidential candidate who is saying the smarter things about how to resolve these problems is gaining headway.

Indeed, in all three debates, it appears that Americans have overwhelmingly favored John Kerry. As a candidate, I find that Kerry has come into his own through these discourses. As for Bush, no longer can he ride high on the coattails of his predecessor's legacy of economic growth as he did in 2000. Back then, he enjoyed the luxury of an American public that was in the midst of a strong economy and relatively tranquil foreign policy situation and unending media barrages about the Clinton "scandal," using it to suggest that America was facing a crisis in moral leadership that would be resolved if he were in office. Many of us not realizing how great we had it in the 90s, especially the Ken Starrs and Newt Gingriches who earned a nice wage by conducting a witchhunt against our President, gave Bush a reasoned hearing and found what he said appealing.

Now Bush is without these luxuries, and he must to face a referendum on his leadership. He had a much easier time attacking Clinton and Gore's leadership than he has defending his own, thus he resorts to Republican epithets that only a young, neo-con could love. I wonder if others find it as off-putting as I do when Bush calls Kerry a "tax and spend liberal." Kerry's simple yet pointed response to this tired line in the second debate was to say that such labels don't mean anything. It would be much more useful if Bush would respond with why he disagrees with his opponent, but maybe he doesn't have a good reason, or maybe he thinks the U.S. public should just be targeted with stylized talking points.

In 2000, George W. Bush promised he would be a new kind of Republican, a "compassionate convservative," " a uniter, not a divider." These campaign themes implicitly acknowledged that the Republian party's image needed changing: the rabidly anti-Clinton, anti-social justice mentality that characterized the Gingrichian Republicans of the 1990s needed to be shed if a Republican were to win the White House. George Bush and Karl Rove knew this in 2000, but they seem to have forgotten it in 2004, probably because Bush was never a compassionate conservative and never intended on being one, nor was he a uniter. Now that we have concrete proof of this, well, Bush's defenses are meager, and Kerry's criticisms are resounding widely with Americans.

For more information on instances in the debates when the arguments that Bush has asserted have been wrong, visit For example, check out the truth behind the false claim that Kerry has voted to raise taxes 98 times.

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