2004 Presidential Election: Bush v. Dean

Although John Edwards and John Kerry lead in fundraising totals, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean is looking more and more like the Democratic Presidential frontrunner. Conservatives, like William F. Buckley Jr. and Dennis Miller, and the corporate media are certainly treating Dean like the man to beat. Rush Limbaugh said last week that some Republicans are furtively raising money for Dean - they'd love to see a Bush vs. Dean contest. George Will and Bill O'Reilly have gone so far as to say that nominating Dean would be political suicide, like choosing McGovern in '72, and that the Democrats would be better off with Gephardt or Lieberman as their (losing) candidate.

Too bad many Democrats aren't helping their cause, either by seriously and uncritically accepting such conservative "wisdom," or worse, by writing off the 2004 presidential election, and the candidates, as a lost cause.

A good friend in the beltway typifies the current defeatism in the Democratic Party. While he is impressed with Dean's recent "spurt," he believes that the "important states are Midwest and Florida. Dean's a nobody there." He "read that during a 4th parade up North, Rove was cheering Dean and was overheard saying, 'He's the guy we want.' (They know they can beat him)." He adds that he'll "vote for any Democrat at this point," but nonetheless predicts: "Dubya in a landslide."

If things [in Iraq] go "badly" in the traditional sense, I don't think the public will be convinced things have gone badly until we're into his second term. By then they'll be naming government buildings and aircraft carriers after Dubya. If things "go well", Iraq will fade to the back of the front page with Afghanistan. It's not even the economy, stupid, anymore. Four reductions in the interest rate have done nothing to help.

The unemployment rate just went to 6.4%, the deficit is $400B, Clinton said last week that the tax cut killed the Education Bill of '02 and the "100,000 Police" program of his administration. Still, Dubya's at 70+ approval. Maybe I don't learn from lessons - his father won a war and had an even higher rating before losing - but I think the GOP has. They won't let what happened to his father happen again. They'll continue to push initiatives that won't work, but will get passed - like the new Medicare plan - and tout themselves as the only ones who can get anything done in DC. They'll prey on our fears over terrorism - and continue to defy history that says a bad economy and foreign entanglements bring down administrations. . .

Personally, I think that George Bush's popularity can't hold - there is just too much wrong with his presidency, and two unfinished wars in the Middle East are only symptomatic of a term characterized by botched foreign policy, unprecedented secrecy, attacks on civil rights, oil-friendly environmental policy, rising unemployment, handouts to the wealthy, concessions to corporate lobbyists, etc. By November 2004, if not sooner, Americans will be more than ready for an alternative to four more years of Bush the Younger.