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The great tragedy of 1992
By Bruce Walker
President George H.W. Bush deserved re-election in 1992. Although he
was not a perfect president or a passionate conservative, President Bush
was a decent and ethical man, a competent leader, a moderate conservative,
and a genuine patriot. The 1992 election was a close election - much closer
than years of Clintonian propaganda would have the American people believe.
If three percent of the voters had shifted from Clinton to Bush, President Bush would have been reelected with more votes than his Democrat opponent. If Ross Perot's disgruntled voters - who were disillusioned conservatives - had voted Republican, then George H.W. Bush would have had one of the most decisive victories in American political history.
Whether President Bush was reelected by a landslide or by a close margin, his election would almost certainly have resulted in a general Republican victory as well. House Republicans picked up nine seats in the 1992 election, even with Clinton winning the presidential election.
Although Democrats picked up one senate seat in the 1992 election, eight Democrats won very close senate races. Democrats like Hollings in South Carolina, Reid in Nevada, and Glenn in Ohio eked out tiny margins of victory in states that were traditionally conservative and Republican. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (who would later switch parties) and Herb Kohl also each won Democrat senate seats with about 52 per cent of the vote, and Pat Leathy won a close reelection race in Vermont.
The American people did not cast fully informed votes in November 1992. Senate Democrats, who had engaged in years of scandalmongering investigation of President Bush, announced the results of their investigations and exonerated President Bush of any wrongdoing...the day after President Bush had lost reelection.
What if a Senate staffer had leaked to Rush Limbaugh or the Washington Times the conclusions of the Senate investigators, and also produced private correspondence that this was to be "kept under raps" until after President Bush had been defeated? Although almost never mentioned, this "November Surprise" (i.e. the despicable act of deliberately withholding exculpatory information about the President until after the election) is perhaps the sleaziest sneaky trip in modern political history.
What if Paula Jones or Juanita Broaddrick had come forward in September 1992 through conservative outlets that liberals could not ignore, like Reader's Digest or Paul Harvey, and said just what how badly Clinton treated women? Republicans were reeling from the allegations that Justice Thomas had made improper suggestions to Anita Hill, and feminists were insisting that "women never lie about these things." How quickly could this mantra be spun by Clinton operatives?
If the American people had either evidence that Senate Democrats were sitting on proof of President Bush's innocence or if the American people had understood the very serious charges against Bill Clinton - not just a consensual affair, but perhaps gross sexual harassment of a state employee and even rape - then it is possible, even probable, that President Bush would have been reelected.
Moreover, the three Democrats who won close senate elections because they were women and Clarence Thomas was this awful man who made lewd remarks to Anita Hill would probably have lost their races (Barbara Boxer only received forty-seven percent of the vote in 1992 anyway).
President Bush would have entered his second term with more political muscle than he had in the previous term. Republicans could easily have regained control of the Senate, especially in light of the election of Paul Coverdale in late November 1992, adding another Republican seat in that chamber.
What would that have meant for America? President Bush showed with his appointment of Clarence Thomas that he grasped the importance of appointing real conservatives to the Supreme Court. With more Republican senators, and probably control of the Senate, President Bush could have appointed two conservatives, creating a solid seven to two conservative balance of power in the Court.
That shift alone would have meant that federalism (returning power to state governments) and individual rights might have received some powerful support against entrenched liberal establishments.
The economy, as we now know, was actually recovering while the President was still in office. Clinton's tax increase slowed down the rate of growth, and with no new taxes and a modest decrease in defense spending (made possible by the Reagan-Bush victory in the Cold War) the federal budgetary surplus would have appeared earlier and bigger, which in turn would have created a rallying point for tax cuts.
Moreover, Clinton's loss would have thrown the Democrats into disarray. The 1996 Democrat primary season would have been a bruising affair, that would have left the Democrat nominee (whoever that might be) in a difficult position to recapture the White House from a political party that had won the Cold War, preserved peace, and presided over prosperity.
Republicans would have probably nominated Vice President Quayle, and despite the vicious jokes of liberals, most conservatives and Republicans perceive Vice President Quayle as an honest and good man. Pat Buchanan could not run to the right of Quayle on social issues (as he did with Senator Dole in 1996) and so Quayle would probably have coasted to nomination in 1996. This would probably have meant Republican control of the White House from 1980 to 2000, with President Quayle appointing Supreme Court justices to replacing aging conservative members.
The greatest tragedy of 1992, however, was what happened to our national security. President Bush was an exceptionally well-qualified president in national security, perhaps the most qualified in our nation's history. Desert Storm and our Cold War victory placed America at a unique junction in world history.
What our nation and the world needed was a competent, serious and honest man - someone that Democrats like Sam Nunn of Georgia and David Boren of Oklahoma would trust - who could craft a real peace for the planet. George H.W. Bush was an outstanding fit for this crucial period.
Nearly everyone, including me, faulted President Bush for not overthrowing Saddam Hussein - but there are two vital influences on that decision that are all too easily glossed over in our Monday morning quarter-backing.
First, George H.W. Bush has seen what war does, and he understands that it is not glamorous or glorious, but rather horrible and wasteful. Conservatives are not warmongers, but rather we believe in keeping our gunpowder dry. Ronald Reagan built up our military as much so he would not have to use it as so that he might use it.
Second - and this is tough, but necessary, to appreciate - President Bush's decision to not kick out Hussein was based upon his respect for the limits of the authority given to him. The Security Council, the Democrat-controlled Congress, and our allies had signed up for a limited mission: George H.W. Bush honored his promise to them.
Those two influences would have strengthened his hand over the next four years. When terrorists first attacked the World Trade Center or attacked American embassies abroad, President Bush could have acted decisively and aggressively, with the world - Americans, Europeans, and Arabs - all understanding that he was defending his country, and not trying to create an American empire.
His utterly wrongheaded, but honorable, decision to leave Hussein in power stands in stark contrast to Clinton's transparent use of American military power to cover up his immature sexual antics and subsequent mendacity.
It is not fashionable to consider our 41st President as a conservative icon or great president, and history will probably not judge him to have been either, but he was a genuine patriot, an honest and a brave man, who placed service to his country before personal gratification. If the American people had known then what they know now, he would have been reelected in 1992, and the whole world would have been a different, and better, place today.
Walker is a senior writer with Enter Stage Right. He is also
a contributor to Citizens View, The Common Conservative, Conservative
Truth and Port of Call.
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