The war in Iraq is going badly, and also the economic climate isn’t lot better, yet the president’s win proves the wisdom of one old political adage: You can’t beat somebody v nobody.

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I voted because that George W. Shrub for president. This will certainly hardly come together a surprised to constant readers of this magazine; earlier this year, when I wrote about how disappointed ns was that President bush had no governed favor Governor Bush, i concluded that ns would most likely vote because that him anyway, since I believed he was much better suited than the leading democratic candidates to resolve the dangerous time in which us live (“The man Who Isn’t There,” February 2004). Ns made the same suggest in our previous issue, when I take it the president’s side in an e-mail controversy with wilhelm Broyles (“Stop Beating about the Bush,” November 2004). One election pressures voters to solve their ambivalence and make a choice. I made mine, yet my ambivalence, i m sorry I placed in abeyance because that one day, has actually returned.

George W. Shrub deserved to shed this election, according to the normal requirements of judging presidential performance—but john Kerry didn’t worthy to victory it. Shrub deserved come lose due to the fact that the 2 most vital policies the his administration, the battle in Iraq and the taxes cuts, to be disasters, and also his credibility remained in question. His management had fallen into the predictable catch of winning the war however losing the peace. He and his advisers ignored the generals’ advice that an ext troops were needed in Iraq, and they ignored the State Department’s advice on exactly how to rebuild the country. The taxation cuts have produced mind-boggling deficits there is no doing lot to wake up the economy. That is no wonder the the most essential indicator of a president’s standing with voters—polls mirroring whether american think the nation is on the best track or the not correct track—showed that, even on the night of the election, a solid majority believed that the country was headed in the wrong direction.

So why did bush win—and not simply win but win comfortably, piling up 3.5 million more votes 보다 Kerry and 5 million an ext votes than any type of previous presidential candidate? There space two answers. One is little-picture: The democracy lost due to the fact that they had a bad candidate and also employed bad tactics. The other is big-picture: The republic won due to the fact that they were much more in action with the spirit of the times.

Let’s start with the tiny picture. There is an old political adage around the difficulty of beating an incumbent, also a controversial one: “You can’t to win somebody with nobody.” man Kerry proved to it is in a nobody. The nation kept waiting for the to administer a rationale because that his candidacy various other than being the UnBush, yet he never did. Compare Kerry with the autonomous presidents of current vintage: He short the charisma of john Kennedy, the political mastery of lindon Johnson, the homespun virtue that Jimmy Carter, and the an individual touch—pardon the double entendre—of invoice Clinton (and for the matter, the enthusiasm of the onetime 2004 democratic front-runner, Howard Dean). The main success of his life to be his battle record, which the trumpeted in ~ the democratic convention come the exclusion of nearly everything else and, by for this reason doing, nearly invited the attack that quickly followed. He had a scant record of success in the Senate, though to it is in fair, a senator in the decimal party has small chance to form public policy.

A senator does have the capacity to form his vote record, however, and also that was another problem because that Kerry. The bush team had actually no difficulty portraying him together anti-war and also a tax-and-spender, and also the Kerry team never could figure out exactly how to place their candidate—whether to wake up for rule or attack Bush or take refuge in vague, feel-good responses, choose “Reach the end to our allies” and “Wage a smarter battle on terror.” bush was much more comfortable in his own beliefs. You can see trouble ahead because that Kerry once he didn’t gain a bounce in the polls the end of his very own convention; he wasn’t an energetic the autonomous base. After ~ the Republican convention, bush was on the verge of running away through the race until he zonked out in the an initial debate and gave Kerry brand-new life.

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So go the news cycle. In the last two months that the campaign, the reports from Iraq were relentlessly grim: suspect of civil war, ever-enlarging no-go zones, revelations the ignored advice indigenous generals and also administrators, topped turn off by the looted munitions dump. Mediocre though Kerry was, he too got an ext votes than any type of presidential candidate in history—except the one he was to run against. But bush is a happy guy, and constantly has been, at least due to the fact that he stopped searching for oil and also started looking for votes. The past twenty years of Texas politics have been characterized by budget plan shortfalls and also school finance crises, the exemption being the 6 years when shrub was governor. When he ran because that president in 2000, the butterfly-ballot snafu allowed him come fight Florida come a stalemate, and the U.S. Supreme Court made the president. Also the tragic occasions of 9/11, though damaging for us all, benefits him politics by offering him the chance to lead, which that capitalized on. And his luck hosted in 2004: The democracy didn’t have a great candidate to placed forth.

The various other component that the little-picture discussion is tactics. Political savants in both parties and in the media space in widespread covenant that republic (read: karl Rove) room just much better at the game of national politics than the Democrats ideal now. One Rove trademark is identify swing constituencies that could aid win a critical state. In Florida, because that example, Bush’s assistance of Israel and also snubbing that Yasser Arafat endeared him to normally democratic Jewish voters and turned what was supposed to it is in a no hope close fight right into a comfortable win. The war problem apparently helped shrub close the gender space by attracting the so-called defense moms, who often tended to be liberal on society issues but cared an ext about the safety of your families. The legislation offering drug benefits for seniors (another large constituency in Florida) robbed Democrats of the health treatment issue the has constantly worked to their advantage. The economic conservatives didn’t favor the $500 exchange rate price tag, however what to be they going to do—vote for Kerry?