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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

What could have been

posted by Ron Beasley at 11/02/2004 09:27:00 AM


I did my daily scan of the op-ed pages and found one commentary that said it all, E.J.Dionne's piece in the Washington Post. He talks about what could have been. George W. Bush could have had a landslide victory in a united country today.
Instead, the president is perilously close to defeat. The best he can hope for is a narrow victory that will leave the nation bitter, divided and angry. One of Bush's achievements will be exceptional voter turnout and a renewal of the idea that elections and political parties matter. The downside, for him at least, is that a large share of the country has been activated for the primary purpose of ending his presidency.
In the days after Sept. 11, Democrats put aside their suspicions of Bush and rallied to his side. "We will speak with one voice," Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle declared on that awful day. "All of us stand with the president," said Sen. Joe Biden. And stand with the president we all did.

For several months, Bush, too, stood above party. In assembling both a domestic and international coalition to wage war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, the president put aside his critiques of unilateralism and "nation-building." As I wrote at the time -- yes, even I admired Bush that fall -- the president "grafted the language of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman to the martial rhythms of Ronald Reagan." He sought broad support, not narrow majorities, for the Afghan war and his emergency spending proposals.
Instead of building on that unity the neo-cons, theo-cons and neo-feudalists tried to take advantage of it.
But Bush interpreted his prodigious approval ratings not as an opportunity for something new but as a chance to push the same ideological agenda he was pursuing before Sept. 11. It was a chance to create a Republican majority in Congress in the 2002 elections. It was a chance to push through even more tax cuts, and never mind the deficits created by all that new spending. If the Senate, facing the 2002 elections, could be badgered into giving the president broad authority to wage war against Saddam Hussein, why not short-circuit a more searching debate and just grab the power? And if forcing an early Iraq vote put his potential 2004 opponents -- John Kerry, John Edwards, Dick Gephardt -- in a bind, why not seize that advantage, too?

It worked for a while. And should Bush squeeze out a narrow win, his supporters will no doubt claim a victory for the president's audacious style.

But the cost of such a victory will be paid off for many years -- perhaps for as long as we're paying off the debt.
So, even if Bush loses, and I think he will, we will all be losers. "A Country Divided Cannot Stand", and divided we will be after this election.