Friday, November 08, 2002

Be careful about calling people stupid....

For the last two or three years or so, I've heard my liberal friends talk contemptuously, dare I say venemously, about how stupid and unintelligent President Bush is. Its something they seem to have taken on from various opinion leaders. Maureen Dowd, using references to the president like "The Boy Emperor", seems to be one of the most vociforous. In light of the recent electoral gains, I thought it might be a little bit useful to make a few observations.

President Bush is a graduate of Yale undergrad and Harvard Business School. He proceeded to make a fortune in the oil business, and then proceded to make a second fortune running a baseball team. He served as a two-term Republican Governor in Texas, something that hadn't happened since Reconstruction, and decided to run for President.

It was then that he came to the attention of various left-leaning opinion leaders. And it was then that the comments about his intelligence started. Now, lets examine the record since then. He was able to win a presidential election against a two-term liberal Vice-President serving under a popular President during a period of peace and prosperity. Congressional authorization for use of force against Iraq? No problem! The UN? Piece of cake! And now he's been able to push the left out of control of Congress. So, I guess I need to ask, if the President is so stupid and such a moron, and he's been so able to consistently outwit the liberals opposing him, what does that say about their intelligence?

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

As a card-carrying member of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy (tm) (I'm still waiting on the nifty new decoder ring), of course I'm happy with the results of last night's election. Make no mistake about it. This election was a referrendum on the POTUS (i.e. President of the United States). The Democrats specifically saw to this. Unfortunately for them, it was a strategy that blew up in their face, as one might expect in a referrendum on a popular sitting president. Had they made it about specific candidates, its entirely possible that they'd have done much, much, better. While I think that the rule of law took a hit in New Jersey's election of Frank Lautenberg, I'm particularly happy that Walter Mondale got beaten in Minnesota. The skeevie Wellstone "memorial" (sorry for the scare quotes, but one tacky turn deserves another) service, probably hurt him and the entire Democratic party. Not only do people just not like to see politics taking on that kind of centrality to personal life, the entire thing probably served to energize the Republican base by giving them the impression that "those Democrats will stop at nothing". Also, as James Lileks points out, Mondale is so out of touch with the digital age, he thinks that getting the western part of his state high-speed internet access is about lower interest rates and plowing more money into the state college system.

I've heard some commentators on the left starting with the "Okay, who do we can?" spiel. I suppose that it makes sense to clean house following a major defeat. Some of the more liberal Democratic commentors are saying it should be Daschle and/or Gephardt. The reasoning goes that their authorizing force in Iraq didn't save control of the Senate as expected, so.... I think that would be a mistake. If Republicans had been left the Iraq issue, Democratic losses would have been much, much more significant. Terry McAulife, on the other hand, seems a pretty good candidate for the axe. While a terrific fundraiser, Mr. McAulife, as chairman of the Democratic Party, is also supposed to set the course for the party's strategy. In this, he clearly failed.

That said, I'd also advise the Republicans to keep in mind that the election was a referrendum on the POTUS's performance in office so far. They feel he is doing an okay job on the economy and they favor the Republican position on national security and foreign policy. I think that most people who voted for the Republicans weren't doing so because they want to ban abortion, outlaw internet pornography, or restore traditional values. Undoubtedly, the temptation to do things on these sorts of issues will be strong for most Republicans. It will satisfy a large portion of the party base and will be fairly easy with control of both the White House and Congress. Therein lies the danger. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. If they want to actually keep control of both branches of government through the 2004 election, they'll have to resist the temptation to go in this direction and stay focused on the issues that won last night's election.