FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Suddenly Bush is Unfit to Lead

Are we really witnessing one of the greatest comebacks in U.S. political history? Or are John Kerry and the Democrats simply playing the role of the Red Sox–getting their followers’ hopes up just enough to make the ending that much more heartbreaking?

It does seem strange that in a matter of hours–the wee hours of Thursday night–the rhetoric of the entire presidential race did a flip-flop. Before the debate, Kerry was toast; his campaign was in disarray; he couldn’t do or say anything right; and he was in need of some miracles to get off the slippery road to repeating a Dukakis-like defeat. But after the debate, in which President Bush did his best ever imitation of Alfred E. Newman, it was the Bush campaign that was being given its last rites.

The debate was, of course, a colossal failure on Bush’s part. But it certainly wasn’t Bush’s first colossal failure in his long, strange road to the White House.

Bush was equally as terrible in his Texas gubernatorial debates with Ann Richards. She mopped him up and he did what he did on Thursday night with Kerry: fumbled and bumbled his way through it. But the Bush team’s spin that he was just a “regular guy” (albeit a multimillionaire, Yale-educated version of the regular guy) worked with both the media and the voters, catapulting him to his first political victory.

The same could be said of Bush’s debates with Al Gore. We all remember the embarrassment of Bush mispronouncing foreign nations and their leaders’ names, looking like a deer in the headlights when his mental vapor lock took hold, and not so much debating as simply repeating his all-too-rehearsed phrases. Again, however, the media and the public (or at least the Supreme Court) bought it and, as a result, the nation sent the grammatically challenged man from Texas to the White House.

So what made Thursday night’s debates different in the eyes and minds of the nation? Well, for starters, Kerry was a bit better than Richards and Gore–but only a bit. The biggest difference is that the stakes are so much higher in this election than in Bush’s previous runs for public office.

It’s one thing to send a simpleton like Bush into public office when the nation was in a state of ignorant bliss over the Internet bubble in the stock market and our pre-9/11 sense of security. Like attracts like, and with the nation in the la-la land of faux-prosperity and security, having a la-la man in the White House didn’t seem like such a big gamble.

But those days are over–long over. Sure, Bush inherited many of the economic problems that plagued his first years in office and Osama bin Laden was going to attack America no matter who was in office, but Bush’s handling of his national inheritance has sobered a nation. Like the cup of coffee handed to the drunk, Bush’s performance on Thursday night was a startling wake-up call to a nation weary of having a goofball in office at such a monumental time in our history.

While Bush certainly didn’t cause all our nation’s economic woes or security problems, he and his wayward administration made them a whole lot worse. The response to a serious economic downturn, for example, shouldn’t have been to hand more money to those who already have more than they need while at the same time greasing the skids for more jobs to slide out of our nation. Similarly, the response to America’s wake-up call to the deep international resentment to our imperial desires should not have been to create even more enemies through our military arrogance.

As we learned repeatedly during his debate with Kerry, Bush has been “working hard” for the past four years trying to get the nation to focus on our economic and security threats. The problem for Bush is that he’s done such a good job scaring the wits out of the nation that the nation has apparently awoken from its slumber enough to realize that these problems are too big for the little man from Texas. Who, for example, wants a twitchy guy holding the gun in an effort to keep the peace? According to the results of Thursday night’s debate, not many.

The Bush team didn’t need to wait for the polling data to know that his performance at the first debate with Kerry was nothing short of a disaster. The Karl Rove-led campaign had worked methodically to make the entire race about the perilous state of the world and the need for a “real man” with “real convictions” to lead the nation. But then the lights came on for the debate and Bush looked like a frightened mouse and, strangely enough, Kerry looked like the stoic lion.

It only got worse when Bush used his mouth–either to smirk, smack or in his painful attempts to formulate words and articulate thoughts. Suddenly, the nation was seeing the little mouse that roared at his absolute worse. And the juxtaposition of Bush’s little roaring and the enormity of the problems he was trying to tackle became too much for the electorate to bear.

While there’s obviously still time for an “October surprise” and yet another electorate flip-flop, the tide has clearly turned against the Bush campaign. And the Kerry camp seems poised to turn yet another eleventh-hour gift from their opponent (remember the Dean scream?) into a victory–a scenario that seemed remote at best before Kerry and Bush came out and stood before those podiums.

But, as any Red Sox fan knows, it’s not over until it’s over. And Kerry’s still got plenty of time to blow it.

MICHAEL COLBY is a Vermont-based writer and the editor of Broadsides. He can be reached at mcolby@broadsides.org.

 

More articles by:

Michael Colby is a Vermont writer and maple syrup producer. He’s the former editor of the Food & Water Journal, and the co-founder of Regeneration Vermont. He can be contacted at mcolbyvt@gmail.com.

Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador   Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail