Monday, August 2, 2004

Deja Vu

Kerry Spot at National Review Online has a good analysis of why President Bush seems to be unable to close ground with Senator Kerry in the polls. For some reason, one hopes it's not ineptitude, the Bush team has been very lackadaisical about getting his record out before the public. A reader of Kerry Spot looks at the Bush ads and makes a strong case that unless things change this month, Bush could be in real trouble. It's worth quoting almost the entire piece:

The ABC News poll lists six major issues that the voters cite as influencing their votes (as well as a few other issues). It's constructive to compare the leading issues with the TV ads run by the Bush campaign this year. (By my count, Bush has run about 22 ads total, according to his website).

1. The economy. Cited as the most important issue by 25 percent of voters. These voters break 60-33 Kerry. Number of ads run by the Bush campaign touting the Bush record: 1 out of 22. Although a few Bush ads mention the tax cuts and speak vaguely of economic growth, only one ad pushes the job creation record and the Bush boom ("Pessimism", which didn't run unit 4 June 2004!).

2. Iraq. Cited as most important issue by 23 percent of voters. These voters break 72-26 Kerry. They think we made a mistake in going into Iraq, and that the casualties mean the war isn't worth it. Number of Bush ads defending the decision to go to war in Iraq: 0 (as in zero). Bush's best ad of the whole campaign slams Kerry for voting against funding our troops - but that doesn't address the concerns of the Iraq issue voters.

3. Terrorism. Cited as most important issue by 20 percent of the voters. These voters break Bush 83-15. Number of ads run by Bush: 3-6 (depending upon how you count them).

4. Taxes. (ABC doesn't note the percent listing this as most important). These voters gave Bush a 6+ lead in trust before the convention, Kerry a 6+ lead after the convention. Number of ads run by Bush: 6. The Bush team pounded Kerry on his gas tax and other tax hikes.

5. Education. (Percentage not listed). Kerry has a 13 point lead in trust on this issue. Bush ads: 0. Incredible - what is the point of hiking education spending by 50+ percent and then not citing that as a major reason for re-election?

6. Health care. (Percentage not listed). Kerry has a 19 point lead in trust on this issue. Bush ads: 0. Okay, the Medicare drug plan has problems - but isn't it evidence that Bush cares about health care?

Conclusion: Pluralities of Americans don't believe Bush's record deserves re-election. Part of the problem is that the Bush air war is not investing TV ads in defending his record. Of the six major issues, Bush ads have only addressed taxes and terrorism with any force. People don't think his record on the economy deserves re-election - but only one Bush ad pushes the Bush boom. People think Iraq isn't worth it - but only one Bush ad defends our war. People don't trust Bush on education - but Bush's 50 percent increase in education funding has never been set before the voters. Elections with an incumbent are largely referendums on the incumbent's record. If Bush's record hasn't convinced people to re-elect him, it might be because his campaign hasn't told them about his record.

This is interesting. Scary, but interesting. The scary thing is that the Republicans have run three consecutive lackluster campaigns. The elder Bush, an incumbent president with eight years as vice-president to one of the most popular presidents of the 20th century, and a successful and fairly popular war to his credit, lost in 1992 to a relatively unknown southern governor with some serious personal baggage.

In 1996, the Republicans were unable to nominate a candidate that could exploit the weaknesses of the incumbent and they got trounced. It seemed as if the only reason Bob Dole was running was because it was his turn. Both campaigns, 1992 and 1996, seemed listless and full of squandered opportunities.

In 2000 the Republicans should have won handily against a man tarnished by his association with Bill Clinton and unable to assure the voters of his own mental stability. Florida should not have been close, given that it had a natural Republican constituency and that its Republican governor was also the brother of the Republican candidate. Yet, George W. Bush came within a millimeter of losing the state.

Viewpoint doesn't wish to appear to be a Nervous Nellie, but this is not a record that inspires a great deal of confidence. So one reads a piece like the one above and hopes that someone at the helm of this campaign knows what they're doing and why they're doing it.

The Good News From Iraq

Senator Kerry assures us that President Bush has either no plan or a lousy plan for post-war Iraq and that he, if he were president, would handle things differently. He never tells us what he would do, exactly, but if he were as smart as he wants us to believe he is, he would do in Iraq precisely what the United States is doing right now. The media focusses on the car bombs and the killings, but these are a relatively small, though certainly tragic, part of the picture of what is happening in Iraq. In fact, when one reads an account like Chrenkoff's 7th installment of Good News from Iraq one feels a deep sense of pride in our soldiers, our leaders, and our people for what they're accomplishing in this troubled land.

I don't understand how anyone can read Chrenkoff's reports and not feel that we have undertaken something profoundly good. I don't know how anyone can think that the Iraqi people are not better off today than they were two years ago. Bush's critics have to deliberately ignore the evidence in order to deprecate the progress that has been made in Iraq. What we've done and are doing in that land is an historic achievement and one that makes all of the carping we hear from Kerry and the Democrats seem so small and whiny.

Perhaps among the most telling anecdotes in Chrenkoff's report is this:

"Two months ago, independent Iraqi pollster Sadoun Dulame asked 3,075 Iraqis from all over the country which US candidate they preferred. Most Iraqis scorned the question, but about 15 percent responded passionately - almost all Bush backers.

"When we asked this 15 percent why they cared, they said, 'Because the American election will affect conditions in Iraq,' ' says Mr. Dulame, director of the Iraqi Center for Research and Strategic Studies. 'They prefer that Bush stay. Because if Bush leaves, maybe the Democrats will adopt a new policy, and not pay so much attention to Iraq.'

"In a perfect reversal of US demographics, the Bush lovers tended to be more educated and clustered in cosmopolitan areas. Call them Red Iraqis. 'Most of them were intellectuals,' says Dulame. 'US intellectuals, maybe most of them adopt Democratic values. But in Iraq, that's the reality'."

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

John Kerry said today that if George Bush was serious about reforming our Intelligence operations and responding to the 9/11 Commission recomendations he'd summon Congress back from their vacations and force them to adopt the needed reforms. Perhaps, but if Bush did follow Kerry's recommendation it's highly unlikely that the good senator himself, or his running mate, would show up. Their level of concern for the safety and well-being of our country can be descried from the fact that on approximately 442 recorded votes taken in the senate since May of 2003 Senator Kerry has bestirred himself to vote on only 65 of them. Senator Edwards' voting record is similarly dismal. I wonder if this duo had a clear conscience as they deposited their paychecks.

Then there's this bit of liberal hypocrisy from Ben Affleck courtesy of Joe Carter at The Evangelical Outpost:

At a breakfast with Democratic delegates in Florida, the actor Ben Affleck told the crowd that Bush tax cuts had provided him with $1 million last year that he didn't need. When a reporter from the New York Times asked him if he ever considered sending the $1 million back to Washington, the actor said "No,"

"I'm not Jesus Christ of the tax code. I can't completely martyr myself." For the moment, let's set aside the idiotically blasphemous way in which he frames the issue and focus on the idiotic hypocrisy of his statement.

In essence, Affleck is saying that he wants the government to forcibly take from him what he isn't willing to give. While I don't expect intellectual consistency from anyone who collects a paycheck by pretending to be someone else, I'm curious how far he would take this idea. Would he, for example, support the idea of a military draft?

I like Ben. I really do. In fact, I think he's an intelligent guy and (semi)talented actor. But he shares a failing common to the wealthy members of his adopted political party. If you're a Democrat and you disagree with the tax cuts why not give the money back to the government? If you don't believe that you should keep the money why not send it to the IRS? All it would require is a stamp, an envelope, and the courage to live up to your convictions. Which of these items are the Democrats lacking?

It really is amazing how many Democrats complain about not paying enough in taxes but who won't voluntarily return their tax refunds to the government. These people are making themselves harder and harder to take seriously.