Tactics and Substance in the 2004 Elections GoogleNews: Howard Dean

September 15, 2003

by V

A Close Election? Really?

Here's a talking point I see all the time: "Republican strategists have always said this next election will be very close." This is their way of saying that Bush's decline in the polls was predicted and expected and therefore nothing to worry about; All Is According To Plan.

Though the Conventional Wisdom is currently settling into agreement with the Republican "very close" line right now, it's starting to sound pretty hollow to me.

Let's look at this election another way.
  1. George H.W. Bush (41) was less beholden to the ideologues in the Republican Party than George W. Bush (43) is.
  2. Bush 41 was therefore free to adjust his policies in response to reality now and then, making his Presidency merely mediocre, not especially damaging to the country.
  3. Bush 43 very rarely changes course, even when his policies are not having the positive effects that were touted as the reason for implementing them.
  4. Since he more rarely adjusts policy to reality, Bush 43's presidency is failing on more fronts than Bush 41's, and will continue to do so.
  5. Observation: Bush 41 lost.
So, why exactly is the Conventional Wisdom saying that with a worse record than his father, it's going to be close?

Yes, yes, campaigns and candidates matter, and there's many a slip twixt cup and lip, but all the same, knowing what I know today: I don't think it will be close.

The "Republican strategists have always said it'll be close" line is sounding more like a plea to me than a prediction; they're trying to talk up their chances (which, admittedly, has been a frequently successful tactic of this crew since 1999).

I'm sure they'll be wishing it was close come November.
Posted by V at September 15, 2003 12:43 PM

Recommended Reading:

The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity: A Diplomat's Memoir
The Politics of Truth... A Diplomat's Memoir

Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush
Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush

Against All Enemies by Richard Clarke
Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror

LIES by Al Franken
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right

The Great Unraveling
The Great Unraveling

The Great Big Book of Tomorrow
The Great Big Book of Tomorrow

Clinton Wars
The Clinton Wars

Blinded by the Right
Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative

Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Future of Combat

Subject to Debate: Sense and Dissents on Women, Politics, and Culture

Living History

The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton

John Adams

Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace

In Association with Amazon.com