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Time to get serious

By Jackson Murphy
web posted September 29, 2003

There is just over one year to go until the next presidential election. If you looked at just a few indicators you would probably come to the conclusion that President George W. Bush is in some serious trouble. Some have suggested he is in a total free fall.

The New York Times best seller list is chalk full of books this week that don't exactly see eye to eye with the Bush Administration. Al Franken's Lies (And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them) tops the list, Paul Krugman's The Great Unraveling is third, Joe Conason's Big Lies is down the list at 31, and Michael Moore's Stupid White Men is still at twenty-first on the list. And Moore will be set to join that list a second time in the coming weeks with his new book Dude, Where's My Country.

So couple these books with Bush's dropping poll numbers, the situation in Iraq, and the continuing sluggish economy and there is a perfect storm for those seeking the White House. But the underlying theme of the day is clearly something else entirely.

Jonathan Chait of The New Republic writes simply, "I hate President George W. Bush" adding that friends of his regard Mr. Bush "as a constant oppressive force in their daily psyche." Welcome to ground zero of Bush hatred. This kind of talk is outrageous, much the same way that Clinton Haters acted in the 1990's. Look Clinton was a pig, but it wasn't affecting my psyche. This is the seething nucleus of frontrunner Howard Dean's campaign and an ever increasing sector of the Democrat's base.

"First of all, he's conservative," writes Chait. "Clinton-hating was strange because Clinton was pretty moderate. Liberal hatred of Bush is more in proportion to the radicalism of his ideology. Second, Bush ran for president as a moderate, and liberals (accurately) perceive his public persona as essentially a lie. Third, the country has rallied around Bush on two occasions--after he took office, and after September 11, 2001--in such a way that criticism of his qualifications and legitimacy was essentially driven out of mainstream discourse. Nothing feeds anger and bitterness like the belief that the media is ignoring your views. Conservatives should know this as well as anybody."

Radicalism? What is so radical about Bush? That he is conservative? If you didn't get the memo that Bush was conservative during the campaign in 2000 you weren't paying attention.

Ramesh Ponnuru, responding to Chait suggests that all of this may be due to Bush's "radical plan to expand Medicare? His crafty plot to leave racial preferences alone if possible and tinker with them at the margins if he must? His Clear Skies Initiative, which will, if its responsible critics are to be believed, result in air pollution declining more slowly than it otherwise would?"

If anyone should be angry at President Bush it should be his fiscal conservative allies watching him pork up Washington like Sen. Ted Kennedy at a buffet in Vegas. But even the most ardent anti-pork Republican isn't going to think that electing one of the 10 potential Democrats will be any better. In fact it is the Democrats that are in trouble, not Bush, and not the Republicans.

"The party's future bids further decline," writes Robert Bartley of The Wall Street Journal. "Despite the narrowness of the 2000 presidential election, and despite the Republican president's momentarily fading poll numbers. In the 2004 elections, the Senate races include 19 seats now held by Democrats and 15 held by Republicans. All but maybe two of the Republicans seem safe, while three Democratic incumbents have already announced their resignations. Of the 19 Democratic seats at stake, 10 are in 'red' states carried by President Bush in 2000."

The reality is that the stock market it is rallying, big time, this year, the recession is clearly over and whatever you feel about the Bush Administration it has meant a massive boom to the former cottage industry of liberal crackpottery and anger. If it wasn't for President Bush Michael Moore and Al Franken would probably be selling copies of the Socialist Worker at the next anti-globalization protest.

The Democrats are seriously overplaying their hand and it is time for Republicans to get serious about this. And by serious they should be continuing to fight the war, win the war, and guide the economy out of trouble.

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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