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September 08, 2005

What's He Got to Offer?

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Let me see if I've got this straight. What George W. Bush is selling -- apart from the fact that he isn't John Kerry -- is 1) fiscal responsibility, and 2) security. Nuts-and-bolts, important , no-nonsense values. That's the package that makes him an all-American Republican. No matter what your reservations about his manner or his background, at least he's modest, he stands tough, and he's One Of Us.

Yet 1) GW has shown himself to be the most reckless spender since LBJ, and 2) he runs an open border with Mexico; he loves enraging Arabs; and he hasn't shown any talent for managing the New Orleans emergency.

So bring me up to date, would you? What kind of case are his supporters making for him these days? I mean, apart from the fact that he isn't John Kerry.



posted by Michael at September 8, 2005


He still has Kerry beat on "moral values". By which, of course, I mean homophobia, anti-abortion activism, creationism, and keeping your pants zipped.

Posted by: ptm on September 8, 2005 10:08 AM

He still talks tough. That's what matters to people who get their news from Fox and CNN.

Posted by: JewishAtheist on September 8, 2005 10:43 AM

Well, though Kerry has Bush licked in the Herman Munster look-alike contest, Bush still has the resemblance to a chimp thing NAILED.

How's that?

(And that's what's passed for political debate the last two elections, btw.)

Posted by: Yahmdallah on September 8, 2005 10:48 AM

I dunno...I think between the hurricane fiasco (which actually isn't totally GWB's fault, it appears) and the not-being-able-to-get-a-constitution-signed in Iraq, and that pesky old nuclear power Iran (which seems to have been bumped off the front page, right along with Nathalee Holloway)I think Bush has tee'd the Dems up for the next election. The Dems might very well blow it yet, though. Don't underestimate the he-isn't-Al-Gore-or-John-Kerry thing!

Posted by: annette on September 8, 2005 10:52 AM

Yeah, I think the dems should win huge in 2006 and 2008. Except, we're talking about the democrats here. That's the one thing republicans can cling to.

There's about 35% of the country who thinks Bush was selected by Jesus to sit at the right hand of the Lord and smite the wicked. Maybe they think Bush is Jesus. Pictures of Bush with a goat could surface and they would still give him a 35% approval rate.

It's the swing voters in the middle that have me confused. What were they thinking? Was it the "have a beer with" factor vs. the stiff Kerry? Did they think terrorists were going to kill them if they didn't vote Bush?

Posted by: Brian on September 8, 2005 11:05 AM

What were the swing voters thinking?

People mostly believe what they want to believe. Bush offered a positive message ("Freedom is on the march") while Kerry offered a negative one ("America shouldn't have gone into Iraq in the way it did and it's doing a bad job. If you elect me, I'll send more troops and times will be tough.")

Absent evidence (which wasn't prominently displayed during the last election cycle) who would you rather believe?

Look back at previous presidential races. They always go to the candidate with the more optimistic message, regardless of truth. It's why I voted for Edwards over Kerry in the primary despite his lack of experience -- I thought he'd be more electable due to his public optmism.

Posted by: JewishAtheist on September 8, 2005 12:09 PM

>>>People mostly believe what they want to believe. Bush offered a positive message ("Freedom is on the march") while Kerry offered a negative one ("America shouldn't have gone into Iraq in the way it did and it's doing a bad job. If you elect me, I'll send more troops and times will be tough.")

As a veteran of 20 years in advertising, I've got to go with this. It's sad that we've reached such a lack of critical thinking that people will blindly follow positive-sounding bullhooey over slightly starchy facts, but there it is. The medium is the message; charisma counts.

I was hoping Barack Obama could have a few more years in the national arena before taking his presidential at-bat, but I think we may need him sooner rather than later.

Posted by: Colleen on September 8, 2005 1:17 PM

The case: We Lack Common Sense And Are Proud, Dammit! We Stand Unified In Our Ability To Be Shepherded By Optimistic Lingo!

>beats head repeatedly on desk

Posted by: Jill on September 8, 2005 2:06 PM

"Isn't John Kerry" still works for me. Not that I am the happy camper either, but imagine the last wonderful week with a Hamletian procrastinator with no fiber and no, zilch, administrative experience on the local, state or national level whatsoever...

Another fruitful meditation might be on the subject of "Logistics, Military." We have not, as yet, perfected teleportation.

Posted by: Van der Leun on September 8, 2005 2:17 PM

Amazing the excuses people are willing to make...yes, we have not perfected teleportation, that is perfectly true. I guess that takes care of the whole New Orleans thing, just a couple of hundred more Bush screwups to explain away!

Posted by: MQ on September 8, 2005 2:20 PM

I notice that "Isn't John Kerry," "talks positive," and "might be OK to have a beer with" seem to be in the lead here ... Well, it's a platform, I guess.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on September 8, 2005 2:27 PM

Don't forget the chimp thing.

Posted by: Yahmdallah on September 8, 2005 3:13 PM

I think that only bloggers and other types of political geeks really worry a lot about who's president.

Can I be the first to say publicly that I don't care a whole lot who's president? I don't think it matters anywhere near as much as the political geeks like to think.

And I did vote for Bush, on the narrowest grounds of self-interest. The Democrats publicly state that I, a white hetero male, am at the bottom of their list for jobs, entitlements, education, etc.

So, I take them at their word. And, yes, based on the criteria of my self-interest Bush is still better than anything the Democrats have to offer.

I imagine that most Americans, when they enter the voting booth, engage in a similar calculation based on their self-interest.

The reckless spending and failure to protect the borders are noted. Would Democrats be any different?

One of these days I'll write a lengthy essay on my blog about today's definition of "conservative." As the crazy outcry over Katrina highlights, conservative now means anybody who does not subscribe to politics as a sort of religion that offers that answers to all human problems and suffering.

In other words, those who do not believe that politics is the solution to all human problems are now, by definition, conservatives. This was brought home with some force by a recent conversation with a co-worker who is thinking of moving elsewhere. All the places she listed as possibilites appealed to her because more liberals reside in them. For her, political identification serves as sort of a religious identification.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on September 8, 2005 3:23 PM

Jewish Atheist -- I completely agree with your idea about optimism.

I voted for GWB in 2000, didn't in 2004 and am really starting to wish Kerry had won the election. He'd be in the process of giving away some key Democratic mandate to an enraged GOP leadership in the Congress at this very second.

Posted by: jult52 on September 8, 2005 3:51 PM

How many damn Brians have we got around here?!?!

Anyway, I still support him because:

1. His drain-the-swamp strategy remains a good one (even if his execution of it has lately grown lackadaisical), and

2. By the Law of Political Displacement we can be sure that if he's in the White House, the Democrats ipso facto are not.

That's about it.

I so can't wait for President Giuliani...

P.S. Take a look at this picture. Heh.

Posted by: Brian on September 8, 2005 4:18 PM

I voted for him, I've liked most of his appointments, but I'm very disappointed that his appointment for FEMA Director was apparently so chrony-istic. For this post in which management skills are SO VERY critical, why not pick ONLY from the cream of the crop, ONLY from those with proven track records of managerial success at the highest level. Brown seems merely adequate, but this position calls for extraordinary leadership skill. Brown's Chief of Staff is also a chrony.

I'm with Kate O'Berne: I hope the taxpayers are not paying for Brown's fancy embroidered "FEMA" shirt.

Supposely one of GWB's strong points is the ability to size people up, and get the right people in the right places. The American people should be able to count on the President to get us ONLY THE BEST management talent available. Lives depend on it.

Posted by: Bill on September 8, 2005 6:03 PM

I'm a Bush supporter, and no conservative, either. I can tell you exactly why I voted for him, and why I'd vote for him again, if I could.

9/11 made me a single-issue voter. I strongly believe that our response to 9/11 cannot be defensive, and we cannot treat it like a criminal investigation. It was the opening shot of a war against Islamic fascism.

You win a war by going on the offensive and staying of the offensive until it is done. Not just diplomatically on the offensive, but militarily, too. Let the other guy play defense.

I see Iraq as the central front of this war, and I see the eventual emergence of a reasonably democratic, reasonably prosperous Iraq as an important strategic victory.

I am confident that you disagree with me; that's fine. But you can understand why it was impossible for me to vote for a democrat.

This secular, tree-hugging, gay-affirmative supporter of legalized pot has a more important fish to fry. I'll stop voting like this when I can here that 'breaking news' sound on the TV and not immediately wonder what major terror attack just hit us...

Posted by: Mike on September 8, 2005 7:01 PM

Dear MQ,
A person with reasonable reading skills would focus not on "teleportation" in the statement above, but on "Logistics, Military" -- something which, although not perfect, seems to be working reasonably in Louisiana just about now.

Mike, just above, pretty much types for me. I'd still support Bush as the better choice against just about anything I can see being emitted by what used to be my party for 35 years, but has recently become a swamp of ideological fanatics. But then again, they've got nothing and, as we learn in the Book of Dylan, "When You Got Nothing, You Got Nothing to Lose."

Posted by: Van der Leun on September 8, 2005 8:32 PM

I'm with Mike. Plus I worked in the King Administration in Massachusetts when Kerry was getting his start, and I heard from a lot of my buddies what a narcissistic prick he was. "Would step on his grandmother's head to get up a stair well" is the line I remember best.
Gore - what a stiff! So it's a mix of how bad the Dems have been and thinking Bush is good on national defense, which is central for me.

Posted by: dave s on September 8, 2005 8:53 PM

If any of you think Iraq will wind up anything other than a theocratic Iranian client state, I've got some hot Louisiana beachfront property to sell you.

Seriously, you still swallow this standin' tall tough guy BS? Still? What is it, 2003? The war in Iraq is the greatest strategic disaster in the history of the United States.

Posted by: Brian on September 8, 2005 9:07 PM

I think we've found the answer to Michael's question. The war is what seperates us.

If you see the war in Iraq as unrelated to the larger war on terror, and if you see it as a failure in the making, then you did not vote for Bush. If you see the war in Iraq as a central part of the larger war on terror, and if you see it as an emerging success, then you almost certainly did vote for him.

All the other things that people are talking about - "moral values", the economy, federal spending, tax cuts - are strictly secondary. It's all about the war.

Posted by: Mike on September 9, 2005 9:19 AM

I still think it's the chimp thing. It's so cute!

Posted by: Yahmdallah on September 9, 2005 9:47 AM

"You win a war by going on the offensive and staying of the offensive until it is done. Not just diplomatically on the offensive, but militarily, too. Let the other guy play defense."

Yipes---it appears to me we do nothing BUT "play defense" in Iraq! Plus, exactly how do we define "until it is done"? Until we've so bankrupted ourselves and depleted our military that all they have to do nudge oil prices up just a scootch more and... bingo...we're cooked! How has "until it is done" ever been defined? How do we know when we're there? People keep saying "when the insurgencey is quelled". But as one smart Dem said recently---if they weren't getting something out of keeping us in Iraq, why don't they stop blowing us up now, make us think the "insurgency is quelled", let us leave, and THEN take over the country? They WANT us there!

Posted by: annette on September 9, 2005 10:31 AM

I'm disappointed in GWB. I voted for him in 2000, and protested to my liberal friends (and wife) "give the guy a chance: how bad can he be?", figuring he had such a narrow victory he'd be a weak president (which I prefer). I was disappointed in his inappropriate tax cuts, since I've studied some actual Econ as opposed to just being an ideologue. But he started good after 9/11, invading Afghanistan and chasing OBL, but I was disappointed when he abandoned the chase and diverted to Iraq, which was just Ideologically Correct and not really good strategy. But I supported the invasion, even tho I figured they were cooking the data on WMD but they had secondary info that would be justified after the fact, and again I was disappointed. That's twice.

He's been lackadaisical for the last year or more. I don't think he's even interested in the job anymore. I think he's bored. He seems to have gotten a kick out of the power and honor in the first term, but now he's a lame duck politically. But he's still got a job even more important than re-election: being president, and he's not doing it. I'm disappointed again. He's taken 350 days of vacation in 5 years, only spends 2 days a week at the office, refuses to break vacation for anything, even a major catastrophe, his decisions are poor and exhibit no reflection, he is out of touch (everyone knew Katrina could overwhelm the levees). If he worked for me I'd fire him - you would too.


Posted by: bliffle on September 9, 2005 12:41 PM

That IS all that Bush offers -- he isn't Kerry. We can talk about performance and approval ratings and all that until our faces turn blue, but when it comes down to actually running someone, all we got was Gore and Kerry, utter tools and a blank spots. That's why all the polls had an unnamed Democrat trouncing Bush, but any actual Democrat losing. And it would be the same if they had an election today. Run SOMEONE! Anyone who isn't a total black hole. Someone will have to offer something other than blind, frothing criticism of Bush; he's not even running and that's still all the Dems offer.

Posted by: Kent on September 9, 2005 1:11 PM

I'm disappointed at the notion that people voted for George Bush in good faith last time and are just now seeing 'evidence' of his inability to lead. I think it's been apparent from day one.

The war on terror IS important but can only be won with the support of other countries. Even if Iraq WAS the hotbed GWB claimed it was, it's still only one country -- one we've depleted our military resources on while Pakistan happily shelters terrorists.

I do concede, however, that I did realize at one point in the debates that John Kerry was useless and that GWB would win. An audience member asked why the US could not ease drug pricing by importing generic Canadian drugs. Now you and I and the rest of us all know why that would never happen but Bush put on his best kindergarten-teacher voice and said, "Because I want to make sure that they're SAFE!" That's right -- Canadian doctors are poisoning their patients. Or maybe they have different organs than Americans.

I couldn't believe he tried a spin that pathetic and waited for Kerry to tear into him. Instead, he lamely switched gears and began droning on with the usual policy-wonk blather that bored everyone stupid. That was just one of many huge missed opportunities that, if I hadn't been paying attention to Bush's missteps for the previous four years, would've lead me to vote against Kerry as well.

Posted by: Scott D on September 9, 2005 3:18 PM

Voting for Bush pisses off the Brians and the Scott D's of the world. Isn't that enough?

Posted by: . on September 9, 2005 5:39 PM

Van: a person with reasonable reading skills would understand the irony in my post -- that your comparison between the difficulty of teleportation and the difficulty of driving buses to the Superdome is ridiculous (there were open highways in that part of NOLA).

Anyone who still thinks Iraq was a victory of any sort for the U.S. pretty much disqualifies themselves from being taken seriously on defense policy.

The last comment from Mr. "." is about right for a lot of conservatives I know. They have a lot of spite and bile stored up against liberals, perhaps because of some traumatic encounter with politically correct idiocy way back when, and because of that they get a gleeful pleasure in supporting a political party that is pretty much trashing their country's future. Republicanism is identity politics for white males, just as stupid as identity politics for any other group but a lot more destructive because white males have more power to put their stupidity into action.

Posted by: MQ on September 10, 2005 3:42 PM

If only Republicanism were identity politics for white males -- instead of sucko incompetence by and for the benefit of a small team of jerks -- it might serve a useful purpose ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on September 10, 2005 3:48 PM

So, here's the thing. Anti-Bush people are up in arms about a hurricane hitting New Orleans and Bush being utterly responsible, yet Pro-Bush people are simpletons who don't have the time or ability to assess facts in context. Okay. That all makes sense.

In either case, the current Bush can't be reelected, so what does he care?

Posted by: j.c. on September 11, 2005 12:29 PM

MQ: "Anyone who still thinks Iraq was a victory of any sort for the U.S. pretty much disqualifies themselves from being taken seriously on defense policy."

The last time I checked, the Iraq war was still on and by any measure, we are winning. Lunch is short, wars are long. Our bases on this vast land aircraft carrier in the heart of the middle east will be there ten years from today. To think of the war in Iraq and the war against terrorism, and the war against Islamic fundamentalism in the past tense is not to think at all.

Posted by: Van der Leun on September 11, 2005 5:17 PM

Ah, but Michael B...identity politics is almost always a con game run for the small group of power hungry jerks at the top of the ladder. Supported by the big base of suckers at the bottom, who are so taken with hearing the leader proclaim loudly that he is on their side that they don't pay close attention to what said leader is actually doing.

Van: "our bases on this vast land aircraft carrier"...I see you are fully on board with the neo con fantasy. So you think of proud, ancient Muslim nations as "land aircraft carriers" whose purpose is to house U.S. bases. I truly can't imagine any kind of thinking more well designed to strengthen the power of radical Islam.

Posted by: MQ on September 11, 2005 6:22 PM

Van der Leun: Please enumerate the many ways you measure our success in Iraq. Is it our quick securing of dangerous areas and restoration of order? The hearts and minds we've won over to "democracy" and "freedom"? The way we quickly repaired Iraqi infrastructure? The capture and destruction of vast stores of chemical and biological weapons? The stamping out of al-Quaida? It looks to me like removing Saddam Hussein from power is the one thing we succeeded in doing.

Posted by: MDS Chill on September 12, 2005 3:52 PM

For the record, ".", voting for Bush doesn't piss me off because he's Republican, it's because he's an arrogant and oblivious fool. I had great respect for John McCain in the 2000 primaries.

Posted by: Scott D on September 14, 2005 10:10 AM

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