BUSH II -- THE SECQUEL: A NEWSMAX.COM ANALYSIS
By John LeBoutillier
The entire Bush family has admitted that, according to Barbara Bush, "1992 was the most painful experience of [our] lives."
Thus, learning from his father's White House mistakes, George W. Bush, with his father running the show behind the scenes, "tweaked" the election formula for 2000: W em- braced a tax cut–as opposed to his father's terminal flip-flop on his "Read My Lips" pledge–and firmly planted himself inside the Rightwing of the GOP, thus forestalling any primary challenges from his Right.
Now, heading into 2004's reelection year, Team Bush wants the sequel to be better than the original.
In movies, the sequel is always a rerun of the original: In "Rocky," an underrated and unheralded boxer defeats a heavily favored champ; in subsequent "Rocky" movies–II- V–the same formula applied: Rocky, for a variety of reasons, was always the underdog and then always overcame doubts to win.
Similarly, in the first "Jaws," a killer shark terrifies a small coastal town. In the two subsequent "Jaws" sequels–both awful, by the way (sequels are never as good as the original)–the same thing happened: A killer shark terrifies a small coastal town until man kills it.
Bush I was simple: lousy economy and a war in the Middle East.
The result? Bush loses to Perot and Clinton, in part because the vote was split.
In the Tale of the Bushes, the big challenge is to have the sequel turn out differently, and for W to get reelected.
So, looking at things strictly through a political spectrum, let's analyze where we are, and how Team Bush makes Bush II, the Sequel, fundamentally different from the original Bush I.
Mistake Number One of Bush I was having the Persian Gulf War end too early. In March of 1991, President George H.W. Bush scored an unprecedented 91 percent approval rating. That is even higher than his son's ratings immediately after the 9/11 attacks.
But 18 months later, that President Bush was only able to garner 37 percent of the vote!
The recession took hold and eroded his once-soaring popularity. The Persian Gulf War victory faded into the recesses of our memories as the bad economy became "the issue, stupid."
Moreover, Pat Buchanan in the GOP primaries, and then Ross Perot in the general election, eroded Bush's support from his Right flank.
Why did Perot run in 1992? Perot had been dissed by Bush over a very emotional issue, and the little Texan vowed revenge.
So, Bush I was, in sum: a Mideast War, a recession, and an angry third-party candidate who split the vote.
Bush II: So far, the Sequel includes a Mideast war (the war on terror), a recession–with perhaps yet another dip back into recession looming–and an imminent new war against Saddam Hussein.
Team Bush risks repeating the mistakes of Bush I if they whack Saddam now. Such a war–and its undoubtedly successful conclusion–will be ancient history by November, 2004. Any political gain–and please remember I am discussing strictly the political analysis of these moves–will have been long dissipated by the next presidential election.
The better course would be to hold off, let the inspection sham go forward, and then, in the late Spring or early Summer of 2004, go to war against Saddam.
That way, the 2004 elections will be dominated by Bush vs. Saddam, not by Bush vs. the Democratic Party's presidential candidate.
Furthermore, such a war could, unlike the father's predicament, mask the recession.
That is what it seems like today. Of course, everything can–and will–change a hundred times by 2004. You may recall that Bush I seemed so certain to be reelected in 1992 that most major Democrats decided not to run that year, thus clearing the way for a young Southern governor that few thought could win.
But the recession, and Perot's siphoning of 19 percent of the vote from Bush, made Bill Clinton the President of the United States.
Bush II, the Sequel, needs to be careful that they don't repeat the mistakes that cost the first President Bush his reelection. Otherwise, 2004 could be another "worst year of their lives."
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