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Advantage Bush
The Weekly Standard ^ | February 2, 2004 | Fred Barnes

Posted on 01/23/2004 9:25:39 PM PST by RWR8189

They would have preferred Dean, but the Bushies are still confident.

Manchester, New Hampshire EVEN BEFORE Howard Dean's campaign began to fall apart, President Bush's underlings were paying attention to Dean's rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination. As the Iowa caucuses drew near, I chatted with a Bush operative at a rally for John Edwards. He was checking out the Democratic senator's campaign apparatus and stump spiel. He held a large Edwards sign in his hands. No doubt other Bush supporters were keeping tabs on Senator John Kerry and retired General Wesley Clark. That's smart politics.

The emergence of Kerry and Edwards in Iowa and Dean's collapse have been widely treated as bad news for Bush. And it's partly true. Dean would probably be the easiest Democrat for Bush to beat. Kerry and Edwards are far more electable. But Dean at least has the money to combat Bush from the time the nomination is locked up, probably in February or early March, until the conventions in late summer when public financing begins. Kerry and Edwards don't, though Kerry could tap his wife's largesse. Also, Iowa drove Dick Gephardt from the race. He was more feared as a potential opponent by the Bush team than either Kerry or Edwards.

If Bush strategists ranked the Democratic candidates as threats to Bush, the list would look like this: (1) Senator Joe Lieberman, (2) Gephardt, (3) Edwards, (4) Kerry, (5) Dean, (6) Clark. And since they regard the Lieberman campaign as dead, too, Bush advisers count the two toughest opponents for Bush as eliminated. Lieberman was feared because he's a centrist with a strong appeal on values issues, a point Lieberman himself made at the last New Hampshire debate here. Gephardt was viewed as a serious foe because of his Midwest roots, personal decency, and what one Bush aide calls his "authentic populism." Gephardt would have challenged Bush in states like Ohio and Missouri that the president won in 2000 and possibly thwarted Bush in states he lost but hopes to pick up this year (Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania).

For more than a year, Republicans have been vetting Kerry. Is he vulnerable? Oh, yes, because of his 19-year record in Congress. Bush aides can rattle off Senate votes on national security issues they would use to knock Kerry: votes against the B1 bomber, against the Abrams tank, against the Patriot missile, against the $87 billion to fund the military in postwar Iraq, against full funding for the CIA as the terrorist threat grew. And the Bush camp disputes Kerry's populist credentials since Kerry and his wife are worth roughly $500 million.

Edwards is more competitive than Kerry, if only because his record in Congress is shorter (five years). That means he has little experience in national policymaking, which is a handicap but hardly a disabling one. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were elected with little experience on the national stage. Edwards is in the odd position of running for president explicitly on his supposed electability after deciding not to seek reelection in North Carolina, where his prospects for a second term were no better than 50-50. Edwards may be a greater threat to Senator Hillary Clinton for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination than he would be to Bush in 2004.

What the Iowa caucuses didn't do was prompt the Bush campaign to accelerate its campaign plans. Bush's State of the Union address did not mark the kickoff. Instead, the campaign will go full-throttle when the Democratic nominee is clear. The longer that takes, the better from Bush's viewpoint. The campaign will spend in excess of $100 million, mostly on TV ads. The shorter the period in which Bush goes head to head, the more likely these ads will produce shock and awe.

Let's assume Dean is the political equivalent of Bruce Willis in the movie "The Sixth Sense"--that is, dead but he doesn't know it. And assume Clark, who isn't taken seriously by the Bush operation, won't be the nominee. Where does that leave Bush in the five major issue clusters against Kerry and Edwards? Let's see.

* National security. The issue here is the two wars, terror and Iraq. Kerry and Edwards scarcely mention Iraq anymore, except when asked. The Bush team interprets this as their having concluded the war issue helps Bush, not them. This is true. Dick Morris's idea that Bush must bring the troops home to win reelection is nonsense. What Bush needs is real progress in Iraq on military and political fronts. And Bush can make the case, as he did last week, that the war on terror is going well. Advantage Bush.

* Economy and taxes. Kerry and Edwards benefit from wanting to keep the Bush tax cuts for the middle class. That helps against Dean but less against Bush. The economy is roaring and the stock market is climbing, but the jobs picture could give Kerry or Edwards an opening. Bush is still 2 million jobs short of where he started in 2001. Advantage Bush (for now).

* Education. With passage of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, Bush neutralized the education issue, long a Democratic talking point. But Democrats have pounded him for not spending more, and his hold on the issue has eroded. He's beginning to fight back, but not as aggressively as Kerry and Edwards are attacking. Advantage Democrats.

* Health care. This is the best Democratic issue. Sure, Bush got a prescription drug benefit for the elderly, but polls show the public isn't appreciative. Meanwhile there's strong support for more government aid on health care. Bush will never be able to out-promise Kerry and Edwards. Advantage Democrats.

* Culture. One of the most politically potent passages in the State of the Union was Bush's take on gay marriage. It was a threefer, attacking judicial activism, gay marriage itself, and (by implication) Kerry's home state, Massachusetts, whose supreme court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. Advantage Bush.

The president has another advantage, the ability to alter the political landscape, at least briefly. He can command the nation's attention at any time, change policies, announce new initiatives, meet with foreign leaders at summits, and so on. In their first big political test in Iowa, neither Kerry nor Edwards showed the ability to create openings on his own. They were reactive, and they got lucky. Kerry got the endorsement of an ex-Green Beret whose life he saved in Vietnam. The fellow, whom Kerry hadn't seen in 35 years, phoned out of the blue. Edwards played off the bitter squabbling in speeches and ads between Dean and Gephardt. To beat Bush, Kerry or Edwards will have to do a lot better.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.

TOPICS: Extended News; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: bush43; electionpresident; fredbarnes; weeklystandard
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1 posted on 01/23/2004 9:25:39 PM PST by RWR8189
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To: RWR8189
What is this the F-ing Kremlin? Underling's - opprative. That is why I have spent 5 minutes with this whole BS.
These media people have gone as nuts as Howy Dean by far.
These people are over the top, I have been a political junkie for years, But I can not watch this crap. The media and Dem's act like kids.
2 posted on 01/23/2004 9:32:32 PM PST by Brimack34
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To: RWR8189
The Bushies should not feel confident. Many conservatives will stay home, count on it
3 posted on 01/23/2004 10:01:27 PM PST by GeronL (miss me?? I've been gone... you mean you didn't even notice?? wwaaaaaaaaaaa!!!)
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To: GeronL
You hope.
4 posted on 01/23/2004 10:05:42 PM PST by Texasforever
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To: RWR8189
President Bush has a re-election team that makes Dean's campaign look like a lemonaide stand. I get mailings at least 3 times a month from Bush/Cheney 2004, and right now GWB has 120 million ready to be spent exposing the democrats for what they are.

Last night someone posted these quote from the democrats and I saved them.

All the Bush team has to do is run an AD on the T.V. that starts off with President Bush saying "Hello, As you know, Me and my Administration have been accused of decieving all of you out there who are watching this commercial that I approved and paid for with the generous support many of you have shown the "Bush/Cheney 04" Campaign, Please read the following quotes and ask yourself who is decieving you? Is it The Bush Administration or is it those who want my Job?"

"[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the
U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if
appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond
effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of
mass destruction programs."
Letter to President Clinton, signed by Sens. Carl Levin,
Tom Daschle, John Kerry, and others Oct. 9, 1998

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show
that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological
weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program.
He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al
Qaeda members. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam
Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and
chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons."
- Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY),Oct 10, 2002

"One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to
develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them.
That is our bottom line."
- President Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998

"If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear.
We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass
destruction program."
- President Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998

"Iraqis a long way from [here], but what happens there matters a great
deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use
nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the
greatest security threat we face."
- Madeline Albright, Feb 18, 1998

"He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten
times since 1983."
- Sandy Berger,Clinton National Security Adviser, Feb, 18, 1998

"Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass
destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and
he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process."
- Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D, CA),Dec. 16, 1998

"Hussein has ... chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass
destruction and palaces for his cronies."
- Madeline Albright, Clinton's Secretary of State, Nov. 10, 1999

"There is no doubt that ... Saddam Hussein has invigorated his weapons
programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical and nuclear
programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf War status. In addition,
Saddam continues to redefine delivery systems and is doubtless using the cover
of an elicit missile program to develop longer-range missiles that will
threaten the United States and our allies."
- Letter to President Bush, Signed by Sen. Bob Graham (D, FL,) and
others, December 5, 2001

"We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a
threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the
mandate of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction
and the means of delivering them."
- Sen. Carl Levin (D, MI),Sept. 19, 2002

"We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical
weapons throughout his country."
- Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002

"Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to
deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is
in power."
- Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002

"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and
developing weapons of mass destruction."
- Sen. Ted Kennedy (D, MA),Sept. 27, 2002

"The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are
confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and
biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to
build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Intelligence
reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons..."
- Sen. Robert Byrd (D, WV),Oct. 3, 2002

"I will be voting to give the President of the United States the
authority to use force-- if necessary-- to disarm Saddam Hussein because
I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his
hands is a real and grave threat to our security."
- Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA),Oct. 9, 2002

"There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working
aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear
weapons within the next five years ... We also should remember we have
always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of
weapons of mass destruction."
- Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D, WV),Oct 10, 2002

"He has systematically violated, over the course of the past 11 years,
every significant UN resolution that has demanded that he disarm and
destroy his chemical and biological weapons, and any nuclear capacity.
This he has refused to do"
Rep. Henry Waxman (D, CA),Oct. 10, 2002

"We are in possession of what I think to be compelling evidence that
Saddam Hussein has, and has had for a number of years, a developing
capacity for the production and storage of weapons of mass destruction."
- Sen. Bob Graham (D, FL),Dec. 8, 2002

"Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal,
murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime ... He presents a
particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to
miscalculation ... And now he is miscalculating America's response to his
continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction
... So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is
- Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Jan. 23. 2003

"Thank You for watching, I'm George W. Bush and I approved this message"

5 posted on 01/23/2004 10:05:50 PM PST by MJY1288 (WITHOUT DOUBLE STANDARDS, LIBERALS WOULDN'T HAVE ANY !)
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To: GeronL
"Many conservatives will stay home, count on it"

I think that is a legitimate concern. There have been a lot of divisive issues amongst the ranks of Republicans and tradionally conservative voters, which are not necessarily the same.

6 posted on 01/23/2004 10:16:27 PM PST by sweetliberty (Even the smallest person can change the course of the future. - (LOTR))
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To: GeronL
There are MANY things that Bush has supported and done that I dislike. I used to refuse to vote for anyone who wasn't pro-life, and still won't if there's a more conservative person who has a chance. HOWEVER, I refuse to withhold my vote from the best choice available. The other alternative is 'cutting off my nose to spite my face', so to speak.

For instance, even a pro-choice Republican would support Bush's judicial nominees for the good of the party. A dem who might win because I refused to vote for a candidate whose stand on one issue I didn't like would never vote the way I wanted anyway.

In short, not voting is foolish, and bad for you, your children AND your grandchildren.
7 posted on 01/23/2004 10:18:05 PM PST by Tuscaloosa Goldfinch
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To: RWR8189
Here is an interesting look at John Kerry and his connections to Enron from


Extended Discussion of John Kerry's Enron Hypocrisy: 

Senator John Kerry often bashes President Bush as to how Enron and other power companies have influenced the administration's energy policy. Kerry has used Enron as a pejorative adjective to describe dubious policies. Moreover, he gave $1000 to an Enron worker's relief fund because it had originated as a campaign donation from a wind company which was an Enron subsidiary. On the campaign stump, he charges corporations with having adversely impacted American democracy. agrees with the Senator regarding his critiques of Enron and corporations, but suggests that this criticism should also be directed at his wife Teresa Heinz.

For eight years Teresa maintained a close relationship with Ken Lay. Since 1995 Mr. Lay served as a trustee of the Heinz Center for Economics, Environment and Science which Teresa founded to memorialize her late husband. Teresa, as well Fred Krupp the executive director of Teresa's main environmental philanthropy Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), also served as trustees.

Oddly, Mr. Lay served as a trustee even after Enron's demise -- a pamphlet obtained from the Heinz Center in the spring of 2003 listed him as a trustee affiliated with Lay Interests LLC. This seems odd in light of Kerry's highly critical comments of Enron.

It is probable that as a wealthy trustee of the group, Mr. Lay was a major donor to the project; about this has no information, but this should be something for Teresa and the Heinz Center to reveal to the public.

In light of Enron's demise and Ken Lay's leadership role in the scandal-ridden company, his service as a trustee is a poor commentary upon the work of the Heinz Center, besides being an embarrassment to the memory of Mr. Heinz.

8 posted on 01/23/2004 10:28:34 PM PST by MJY1288 (WITHOUT DOUBLE STANDARDS, LIBERALS WOULDN'T HAVE ANY !)
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To: Tuscaloosa Goldfinch
You don't get it.... I starting to WISH for divided government again.
9 posted on 01/23/2004 10:29:28 PM PST by GeronL (miss me?? I've been gone... you mean you didn't even notice?? wwaaaaaaaaaaa!!!)
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To: sweetliberty
Hey Mike Savage called for Bush to be impeached.. humorous in a way... Joe Kelly (overnights on the Midnight Trucking Network) is also saying that he doesn't see any reasons to vote FOR Bush other than keeping a Democrat out... and that divided government has its advantages
10 posted on 01/23/2004 10:31:39 PM PST by GeronL (miss me?? I've been gone... you mean you didn't even notice?? wwaaaaaaaaaaa!!!)
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To: GeronL
I think the stay-at-home crowd will have a say in the November election. They aren't fully behind Bush...but they won't vote for anyone else. We likely have a scenario where a Kerry-Edwards ticket could take all of the northeast states, two southern states, and California (unless Arnold plays into this whole thing). That might just be enough to win in this particuliar election. The electoral college may be fully challenged again. And this time, the public may be finally fed up enough to say its time to toss the electoral college out. I won't say its a good thing or bad has worked for 95 percent of our elections quiet well.
11 posted on 01/23/2004 10:33:44 PM PST by pepsionice
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To: GeronL
I DO get it. I know that today's Republicans are almost, if not as liberal as FDR. But I also know that today's Democrats are as leftist as Karl Marx.

To me, it's a choice of the lesser of two evils. I'm staying on the car that's moving down the slippery slope at the slowest rate.
12 posted on 01/23/2004 10:36:18 PM PST by Tuscaloosa Goldfinch
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To: GeronL
Many conservatives will stay home, count on it.

Nah--won't happen. Crazy Ross will be back & give the ''conservative'' nutters somewheres to put their little old ''X''.

13 posted on 01/23/2004 10:41:28 PM PST by elli1
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To: Tuscaloosa Goldfinch
yes, but a lot of people will see two evils and recoil, why choose any 'evil' at all
14 posted on 01/23/2004 10:41:49 PM PST by GeronL (miss me?? I've been gone... you mean you didn't even notice?? wwaaaaaaaaaaa!!!)
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To: elli1
Perot is not a conservative
15 posted on 01/23/2004 10:42:17 PM PST by GeronL (miss me?? I've been gone... you mean you didn't even notice?? wwaaaaaaaaaaa!!!)
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To: pepsionice
well, if we end up having divided government and very little gets done, I'd say we got an improvement
16 posted on 01/23/2004 10:42:59 PM PST by GeronL (miss me?? I've been gone... you mean you didn't even notice?? wwaaaaaaaaaaa!!!)
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To: Tuscaloosa Goldfinch
President Bush needs to get tough with the spenders in Congress, the Pork in that Omnibus Bill is a disgrace and most of it was put in there by Republicans. I know 11 Billion of pork in a 373 Billion Dollar Omnibus Bill is just 2.75% of the whole Bill, but 11 Billion is 11 Billion, Or how I like to say 11 Billion...... 11 Thousand Million or 110 million $100.00 Bills.

The fact is that Congress is out of control and it's our job to complain to them. If we added up the last ten years of unnecessary pork spending that these congress critters have attached to every important piece of legislation. There would be no deficit

17 posted on 01/23/2004 10:44:50 PM PST by MJY1288 (WITHOUT DOUBLE STANDARDS, LIBERALS WOULDN'T HAVE ANY !)
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To: MJY1288
Nice going, case closed!
18 posted on 01/23/2004 10:45:17 PM PST by fish hawk
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To: Tuscaloosa Goldfinch
In short, me, my husband, and three grown children (one of which is in Iraq) will be voting for President Bush. The democrat alternative is nothing but "scary". We vote for a free and safe America. Enough said.
19 posted on 01/23/2004 10:48:48 PM PST by jonsie
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To: GeronL
Because by choosing the lesser I avoid the greater. Otherwise, I'd be stuck with the greater.
20 posted on 01/23/2004 10:48:54 PM PST by Tuscaloosa Goldfinch
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