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Spinning their wheels

By Jackson Murphy
web posted August 11, 2003

Do a simple Google News search on the Democratic candidates for the White House and you will find enough stories about them attacking President George W. Bush to fill a book. They are attacking Bush on everything and anything. From his policy in Iraq, to unemployment to his credibility in general -- if there is a position from Bush, you're likely to find one of the Democratic presidential candidates has a distinctly different position.

If you get the sense that Democrats are spinning their wheels when it comes to their dislike of Mr. Bush, then you are right. And if this reminds you of how Republicans acted during the Clinton Years, then you are doubly right.

Tony Snow asked Sen. Joe Lieberman this past weekend on Fox News Sunday that very question. "You know, Senator, a lot of Republicans think that they spun their wheels a lot by being Clinton-haters during the Clinton years. Do you think that's a similar problem among Democrats right now, being Bush haters?" For his part, Lieberman suggested simply that there was plenty to hate.

Increasingly, comparisons of Bush to Richard Nixon and Herbert Hoover and general arguments that Bush is a failed leader are all on display as candidates struggle to make their case.

"There's not been a president since Richard Nixon who has practiced secrecy, withholding from the American people important information," said Sen. Bob Graham.

Lieberman has suggested that, "George W. Bush's failed leadership has left our country dangerously unprepared to defend against and defeat the threat of terror. And it has clearly driven our economy right into a ditch."

"Eighty-three thousand jobs have been lost a month," Rep. Richard Gephardt said. "He's got the worst record since Herbert Hoover. He has got to go so we can get jobs back."

In the words of House Republican Leader Tom DeLay, "They've spewed more rhetoric at President Bush than they ever did at Saddam Hussein."

Howard Dean

As Robert Novak tells it, this hatred is emanating from the campaign of Howard Dean. "Dean's campaign is a remorseless assault on George W. Bush, far exceeding his opponents'. Humorless and unsmiling, the country doctor with upper-class roots pummels the president. He has tapped into pure hatred by rank-and-file Democrats of the reigning Republican that I have never seen in 44 years of campaign watching. Not Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan or even Bill Clinton generated such animosity."

The Democrats are guilty of doing what many a Republican partisan did during the Clinton years and maybe they are even worse. This overstep of criticizing the president relentlessly and making you become a caricature of yourself has a way of backfiring.

While President Bush's approval ratings have fallen from the stratospheric levels post 9/11 and during the lead up to war in Iraq, they are still good. And it is certainly true that the vast numbers of people do not hate Bush.

Democrats will suggest that their attacks on the president are on solid ground because they are criticisms of policy rather than an expose of a president's personal life. Yet the tactics and outcome may remain the same. Unfettered attacks on Bush may galvanize both his base of support and the public at large.

"They think if they just get a little bit angrier, and a little bit meaner and a little bit louder, the American people will start hating the president as much as they do," said DeLay. And DeLay should know all about this. He was at the center of the Clinton-hating nineties.

As evidence of this hatred, recently a loose coalition of labor, women's, and environmental groups led by super-rich George Soros have formed a new group to spend up to $75 million to help defeat Bush in the 2004 election.

No one in the President's camp has yet suggested, as Hillary Clinton did, that there is a vast ‘left' wing conspiracy. At any rate, this rabid Bush hating must simply be music to Karl Rove's ears as Democrats look increasingly consumed with hatred of Bush rather than expressing any new ideas.

Jackson Murphy is a commentator from Vancouver, Canada. He a senior writer at Enter Stage Right and the editor of "Dispatches" a website that serves up political commentary 24-7. You can contact him at jacksonmurphy@telus.net.

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