by John Hawkins | February 19, 2004 1:27 am
Ironically, most of the triangulation Bush has done in an attempt to steal Democratic issues and pull in independent voters seems to have backfired on him. He spent money like a Democrat and conservatives became furious with him. He proposed an illegal alien friendly immigration plan and not only did he infuriate the base, there still doesn’t seem to be any evidence that it has helped him with Hispanics. His massive education bill that he put together with Ted Kennedy? Despite ridiculously high spending increases, all we’re hearing is that it’s “underfunded”. Even the prescription medicare bill has been big failure. Not only did it inspire lots of conservatives to compare Bush to LBJ, the Washington Times reports that “A Gallup survey found that public disapproval of Mr. Bush’s handling of health care has increased 13 percentage points since last year.”
I have come to believe that the assumption made by a lot of people, myself included, that Bush’s triangulation is good politics, but bad for the country, is half wrong. In actuality, Bush’s triangulation is not only bad for the country, it doesn’t seem to be helping him politically either. I now think that Bush’s popularity in 2002 and early 2003 was largely due to tax cuts and a war bounce, not the issues he triangulated on.
Furthermore, I believe the reason triangulation worked so well for Clinton and has largely failed for Bush, is because the country is more conservative than liberal. So when Clinton triangulated on issues like welfare reform and NAFTA, it worked great for him because the country leans to the right. But, now that Bush is moving to the left to triangulate, it’s not working for him because he’s going against the conservative grain of the country.
On top of that, conservatives tend to be much more critical of their own candidates when they disagree with them than liberals do, as Trent Lott found out to his dismay. So when Bush moves to left, it generates a lot more anger and public dissent on the right than Clinton’s occasional moves to the right ever did among liberals.
So if what I’m saying here is the case — and I think the polls support my position — isn’t it time for Bush to stop trying to move to the left so much in an effort to get elected?
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