Bush Looks Vulnerable? I Don’t Think So

by John Hawkins | September 5, 2003 4:16 pm

There seem to be some people out there who think Bush is in trouble. Richard Reeves just wrote a column called “Why George Bush Can’t Win”[1].

Glenn Reynolds[2] writes…

“QUITE SOME TIME AGO, I noted that Bush was in danger of losing his base. Now it looks to be happening. Libertarians are already iffy; now conservatives are, too.

Bush’s hole card is that the Democratic field looks weak. But, of course, it looked weak in 1991, too.”

Justin Webb at the BBC[3] says “(Bush) is a potentially vulnerable president.”

I’m sorry, but I just don’t see it. In fact, were I a Democrat, I’d be sitting around with a trash can on my head like James Carville on election night 2002 wondering how it all went so wrong. I’ll tell you why I say that…

— The news out of Iraq has been worse than predicted. Our forces are stretched thinner than we’d like and we’ve lost more men than expected after the war. The media has been relentlessly negative and gloomy.

— The economy has been soft pretty much since Bush took office.

— Conservatives like me have trashing Bush a lot lately over his domestic policies.

— All the Democratic contenders for the Presidency have been attacking Bush daily.

— The Bushies were on vacation last month and did comparatively little to defend themselves.

Yet, in the latest Gallup Poll[4], Bush is sitting pretty with a 59% approval rating. Folks, 59% is outstanding, brilliant, superb for a politician. If the election were held today, Bush would send ANY Democratic candidate team donkey could put up screaming off into Dukakisville without breaking a sweat.

And here’s the scary part — we have every reason to think that things are going to improve for Bush from here on out.

— Things are going better than the press would have you believe in Iraq and we’re really not having to do a lot of fighting outside of the Sunni Triangle. It wouldn’t surprise me if we only had 40k-50k troops with very minimal casualties over there by this time next year as Iraqi police officers take up the slack.

— The economy grew at a healthy 3% last quarter and it looks to be picking up more steam. Because of the tax cuts, Bush will be able to take credit for bringing the economy back.

— Moreover, as the election gets closer Bush is smart enough to make some moves to hype up the base and he will have a far bigger war chest than the Democrats as well.

Also, there’s another factor that I think most people haven’t considered. That’s the “I-hate-politics” crowd. All of us know that there is a large percentage of Americans who care nothing for politics and rarely pay attention to anything that’s going on. If you catch the attention of that group of voters in a positive or negative way, it’s very difficult to change their minds, simply because they so seldom pay attention to what’s going on. Well after 9/11, those people (along with everyone else) were paying attention for a few weeks and do you know what I think they see when they look at Bush? They see the guy who was standing with his arm around a fireman on a heap of rubble at the WTC saying, “I can you hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!” They remember that image and the “Hell Yeah!” they gave to the TV when they heard Bush had begun bombing Afghanistan and they’ll still be remembering it when they go to the polls in 2004. Those people are going to be tough converts for the Dems and they may in and of themselves provide the margin of victory.

Last but not least, the Democratic field is mediocre. Their best candidates are Al Gore and Hillary Clinton and neither of them are running. Even if they did run, I believe they’d be hard pressed to win. Even now at one of Bush’s “low points”, Hillary Clinton who is well known to Americans and would be far stronger than anyone else in the field loses to Bush by 7 points. Howard Dean, who wants to raise taxes, favors gay marriage, and really comes across as a weakling on national defense, is mainly gaining momentum by being the most passionate anti-war / anti-Bush candidate. That’s a message that won’t resonate with anyone but the Democratic base and it won’t bring the Dems the White House.

If Bush drops below 50% approval or he starts polling behind specific Democratic candidates like Hillary or Dean, then it’s time to declare him to be “vulnerable”, but right now he’s not looking the least bit weak to me.

  1. “Why George Bush Can’t Win”: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&u=/030905/79/55wkd.html
  2. Glenn Reynolds: http://www.instapundit.com/archives/011364.php
  3. BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/3083998.stm
  4. Gallup Poll: http://www.gallup.com/poll/releases/pr030905.asp

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