Thursday, November 04, 2004

 

Lie #2: "A broad, nationwide victory"

From Talking Points Memo (by Josh Marshall, speaking of Bush):

There's this from his comments today: "We've worked hard and gained many new friends, and the result is now clear -- a record voter turnout and a broad, nationwide victory."

This is the touchstone and the sign. A 'broad, nationwide victory'? He must be kidding. Our system is majority rule. And 51% is a win. But he's claiming a mandate.

"A broad, nationwide victory"?

It would almost be comical if it weren't for the seriousness of what it portends. This election cut the nation in two. A single percentage point over 50% is not broad. A victory that carried no states in the Northeast, close to none in the Industrial midwest is not nationwide, and none on the west coast is not nationwide.
And yet he plans to use this narrow victory as though it were a broad mandate, starting right back with the same strategy that has already come near to tearing this country apart.

Actually, it makes political sense to be as bold as possible, to call a mandate what isn't a mandate. (This is actually what I advised for Clinton in '92, reasoning that many will criticize you no matter what you do, so you might as well be bold.)

Besides, this is what Bush did in 2001, when he clearly didn't have a mandate (when he actually lost, as a matter of fact), and he got away with it, so why wouldn't he do it now? The press never barked when he pushed a hard-right agenda despite his campaign rhetoric, never challenged him to actually be the "uniter not divider" he had promised - if I were George W. Bush (shudder), I'd learn the appropriate lesson, too: that success lies in doing what you really want and calling it mainstream, confident that no one will call you a liar. Nobody has so far, so why would Bush have any reason to think they'll start doing it now?

Marshall is of course right on the substance of it: the flipside of 51% pro is 49% con, the flipside of Red America is an almost equally strong and opposite Blue America. But the politics, unfortunately, favor Bush. The press doesn't care, so he might as well go for the max. With the House and Senate on his side, and soon the Supreme Court, what does he have to lose? Since he seems to believe that thinking something is so makes it so, he probably sincerely believes that governing as if he has a mandate will make it a mandate. This will be very bad for America, but George Bush has already shown that he doesn't care about that at all.

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