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February 22, 2004

HOW DID HE DO IT?....Why do I dislike George Bush? Because of his policies, obviously, and also because of temperament and personality characteristics that rub me the wrong way. But there's more. Whenever I think about this, one of the things that always settles into my mind is that he just doesn't deserve to be president. He never paid his dues.

It's not just that he got the job based partly on his family name. You could say the same thing about FDR, JFK, Bush Sr, and Al Gore, and it doesn't especially bother me about any of them. It's more that I just can't figure out how he managed to become a consensus party choice for president after a mere single term as governor of Texas.

Compare this to every other president since FDR. Here are the number of years of political experience each one had before he became president: 22, 23, 0, 14, 26, 18, 26, 14, 14, 22, 16.

With the specialized exception of Eisenhower, every single other president has had at least 14 years between first winning political office and becoming president. George Bush had six.

I just don't get it. Sure, he's a Bush, but even so how did he manage to convince the vast majority of the Republican party apparatus that he should be their favored candidate? After all, he had minimal experience, he obviously didn't have any special intellectual or personality characteristics that make you sit up and take notice, and his father wasn't even that popular with most Republicans after his dismal loss in 1992.

So how did he do it? It remains, to me, the most mysterious of questions.

Posted by Kevin Drum at February 22, 2004 09:11 PM | TrackBack


Obviously, he wasn't elected, he was selected by a cabal of neo-con handlers hellbent on Iraq's oil, Afghanistan's oil, Uzbekistan's oil and, in general, world domination. Elizardbeest helped too.

Posted by: Lonewacko at February 22, 2004 09:18 PM | PERMALINK

He fit the suit.

Posted by: Johnny Bravo at February 22, 2004 09:21 PM | PERMALINK

Keep in mind those six years were spent at what is arguably one of the weakest executive office positions of all the governorships.

Posted by: Boggs at February 22, 2004 09:23 PM | PERMALINK

It's a valid point. But a slightly odd one from a Clark guy :)

I suppose he would've been an Eisenhower exception?

Posted by: Thersites at February 22, 2004 09:23 PM | PERMALINK

He didn't have to convince the Republican party "apparatus" -- he won in the primaries. The story here is the brilliance of Rove who, allegedly, picked Push for the race before the possibility had ever occurred to Bush.

Posted by: JS at February 22, 2004 09:24 PM | PERMALINK

This is a specious argument, Kevin.
You supported Clark for President, and he had even less time in government (and don't tell me that just because an Army general gets paid by the US Government that counts; a general has no experience in either the executive or legislative function of government).
Face it: you don't like Bush. Why look for bogus reasons to explain it.
Having a visceral dislike to the fellow is OK, but I warn you that it will hurt all the more when he is reelected in November.

Posted by: fw at February 22, 2004 09:26 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps the Republican Party prefers someone who can be manipulated rather than someone able to make independent decisions. Some have reported that Bush actually does make his own decisions, and Dana Milbank recently said on Fresh Air that contrary to what W. had previously attested, Bush does read some newspapers. But he is known for his lack of curiosity which makes him susceptible to being swayed by selective information input. And he had a record in Texas of being extremely responsive to his corporate donors. Add to that high name recognition and the ability to charm apparently witless campaign reporters, and he was just what Enron/Halliburton/Bechtel/News Corporation ordered.

Posted by: Carol Ann at February 22, 2004 09:27 PM | PERMALINK

A mystery for the ages. However, I disagree with the dues-paying requisite. (I think Bush didn't deserve public office because of 1) his lack of a public service mindset and 2) lack of intellectual curiosity)
I reckon it's because I'm an old ancient history nerd, but I still favor the mythic Roman ideal of the non-politician. Remember the farmer that laid down his plow to take on Roman politics for a few years (some myths have him becoming general for a few years). But instead of going life-long in the Senate, he went back to the farm as soon as possible. (Think Russell Crowe).
The mythic ideal was the non-career politician. Hand in hand with this ideal is the citizen/representative.
Of course, in an age of political expertise, this is an unrealisitic goal- but I think there's value to it nonetheless. If you have the bare capabilities to hold public office (so that your time isn't a waste to the people), I say we should encourage the citizen/rep.
You guessed it, I'm an Edwards supporter.

Posted by: Owens at February 22, 2004 09:28 PM | PERMALINK

His affect is very... retarded, I can't think of any other word. Whenever I look at him, I think, "There is no way this guy is up to the job. Impossible."

Posted by: grytpype at February 22, 2004 09:28 PM | PERMALINK

He didn't have to convince the Republican party "apparatus" -- he won in the primaries.

But why did he win in the primaries? Largely because almost everybody who could be considered a Republican "insider" had already endorsed him.

Posted by: Haggai at February 22, 2004 09:29 PM | PERMALINK

FW: your insight re: Kevin and his feelings about Bush are simply stunning. I've been coming to this site for six months now and there was always something about Kevin that I couldn't quite wrap my mind around, just at the outer reaches of knowability. But you managed to button it all up for me. Kevin, why can't you be more forthcoming about your biases?

Posted by: Boggs at February 22, 2004 09:30 PM | PERMALINK

Bush was well-liked in Texas, without any strong ideology of his own, and viewed by many as easily manipulable.

And his dad's friends gave him a lot of money.

Posted by: rachelrachel at February 22, 2004 09:36 PM | PERMALINK

What strikes me as kind of creepy about Bush are some of the characteristics he shares with Ronald Reagan. Disinterest in policy details, the perception that he is just a regular guy, scorn for intellectuals, preference for appointing ideologues over trained professionals in cabinet positions (remember 'are you a republican or a reagan republican?') Both of them ended up with administrations that ran circles around them. Of course, Bush makes Reagan look good in comparison. What's creepy is, is it just coincidental? Yet, how could, or why would, a party have a preference for this type of detached, figure-head leader?

Posted by: maryc. at February 22, 2004 09:41 PM | PERMALINK

What we the Republicans thinking? Starve the beast. It can't eat without its brain.

Posted by: Matt at February 22, 2004 09:41 PM | PERMALINK

Oh please. As Bush himself has indicated, Jehovah wanted him to be Preznit at this critical time in world history. No other explanation is necessary or possible.

Posted by: Rev. Howard Furst at February 22, 2004 09:42 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with a couple of the others from this thread. Kevin Drum was ready to vote for General Wesley clark, who had no political experience and many, many many question marks floating above his record past. He couldn't get it straight in his head what he thought about what and why.

Just doesn't sit right with me, this post.

Posted by: Temp at February 22, 2004 09:43 PM | PERMALINK

Er, that's "were thinking"
And mary c, don't you mean "detached head leader?"

Posted by: Matt at February 22, 2004 09:44 PM | PERMALINK

In very early polls asking respondents which of several Republican candidates they preferred in a matchup against Gore, George W. Bush led the field. However, I remember reading that a majority people at the time confused him with his father! Nonetheless, Republican donors wanted to get behind a winner early, so these polls, based on initial confusion of father and son, sufficed to give Bush the critical advantage.

Posted by: TJ at February 22, 2004 09:45 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry Kevin,

Have to second FW; your support of Clark and subsequently of Edwards repudiates your thesis. And truly, why develop such elaborate reasoning anyway? There is ample grounds for dislike of President Bush without recourse to sophistry.

Posted by: Dazir at February 22, 2004 09:45 PM | PERMALINK

It's not just that Bush is an inexperienced politician (even more so than most one term governors, as I understand it the Texas governor is practically a figurehead). It's that there is just nothing in the life of GWB to suggest that he is qualified for the job -- nothing! He was an average student, he was an average to poor (or even criminally negligent, who knows) Guardsmen. He has led numerous unsuccessful business ventures. I remember hearing a statement by one of his spokesman about his Alabama Guard troubles, and the man said something to the effect of 'Bush served acceptably'. Bush has even been arrested a couple of times, not to mention alchohol troubles.

Since when did the test for the Presidency become, is he 'acceptable?' No, dammit, the man should be remarkable. The President should be the absolute best of the best. Bush hasn't done a damn thing remarkable in his life. Sorry, but for the White House, no 'C' students need apply.

I think it boils down to image -- he managed to make people like his image. And that is what bugs me the most. Bush is a marketing President. His 'commercials' were better at selling his 'product' to Republicans.

I guess he really is the first CEO President. Yuck.

Posted by: Timothy Klein at February 22, 2004 09:45 PM | PERMALINK

It was a magnificent marketing job, around the alluring theme of "compassionate conservatism." Bush was sold as someone who had brought together Texan politicians of all stripes. No one bothered to point out that in Texas, those stripes tend to be quite similar.

The young Bush had a lot of appeal (at least to around half of the voting public), but he also had plenty of faults. I don't recall the press spending much time covering those faults, though. It took 7 years for them to wake up.

Posted by: Anna Plurabelle at February 22, 2004 09:48 PM | PERMALINK

As a resident of Texas who watched Bush take the governer's seat, I had the exact same reaction during that election:

Who the heck is this guy?

He was elected governer with only a failed business to his credit. That's pretty much it. I couldn't believe that this guy managed to get the job.

And then, we got to watch his war chest grow to over 30 million dollars BEFORE HE HAD EVEN ANNOUNCED HE WAS RUNNING for president. Before he had formed an exploratory committee, even. And they were going to run a presidential candidate whose governing experience was not yet completing his a single term in his first elected office?

What gives? Who were those people who handed this guy millions of dollars before he was a candidate and before he was forced to report the money sources? Who hand picked this dude to be my president?

And why the heck couldn't they have hand picked someone who could pick his own nose without help?


Posted by: Dorothy at February 22, 2004 09:48 PM | PERMALINK

lets see..
get over it.
move on.
this is 2004. not 2000.

What else can I say to push u all into REALITY?

Posted by: Al at February 22, 2004 09:48 PM | PERMALINK

Sits just fine with me. I have never understood exactly how I am supposed to admire this man.

And I don't understand why, having lived thru Nixon,Reagan,Bush I, people like Peggy Noonan gets wet panties over him.

"I reckon it's because I'm an old ancient history nerd, but I still favor the mythic Roman ideal of the non-politician."

Maybe something to this, but Nixon, Reagan, Bush I were lifelong politicians; some had reputations for competency. This guy is really special, really different. The fact that Repubs never admit it, or even see it, has really begun to burn my chops. The rot goes deep.

Posted by: bob mcmanus at February 22, 2004 09:50 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I am as astonished you are about Bush's getting into the highest office in our country. Coming into the office, he must have had the weakest credentials of any presidential candidate in the past 100 years (maybe more). His record of success before winning office was pretty thin - yet, there he is. Of course, his accomplishments while in office have pretty well matched his credentials, at least from my point of view. But, I've been called an "irrational Bush-hater," which I'm not. I don't hate the man - I just think he isn't up to the job at an important juncture in the nation's history.

Posted by: Michael at February 22, 2004 09:54 PM | PERMALINK

"So how did he do it? It remains, to me, the most mysterious of questions."

Two words, Kevin:

Goat pictures.

Posted by: Californian at February 22, 2004 09:54 PM | PERMALINK

$$$uffer'n $$$uckatash, Kev, "money doesn't talk, it swears"-- you know that. That's why the Bin Laden clan was flown home after 9/11, "for their own safety", of course. That's why corporations own the airwaves, and do the hiring and firing. That's why the Iraqi war was being planned from the moment Scalia handed the ball to Jr.

And on, and on.

Posted by: Sovereign Eye at February 22, 2004 09:55 PM | PERMALINK

"Owens" said Bushhad a lack of a public service mindset. How quickly we forget that summer of '72 in Houston!
Seriously, it's Rove and bucks.

Posted by: Steve Snyder at February 22, 2004 09:56 PM | PERMALINK

>>What else can I say to push u all into REALITY?

Not much Al - that's the problem.

Bush is still president and guess what - it is 2004. That's the painful reality.


Posted by: Andrew | BYTE BACK at February 22, 2004 09:58 PM | PERMALINK

Precisely HOW does Kevin's support of General Clark repudiate his thesis? Did you guys even think before setting hands to keyboard?

Drum: "How did Bush ever win the nomination? No modern president with the exception of Eisenhower, a special case for obvious reasons, had a similar lack of experience."

Chorus: "Hey, you supported a guy with no experience!"

Response So Obvious That I'm Appalled That I Have To Write It: "Clark won neither the nomination nor the Presidency."

Far from refuting Mr. Drum's hypothesis, the case of General Clark is further evidence that it's extremely difficult for a political novice to win a presidential nomination.

Could it be that you guys are responding to some imaginary article that lives only inside your head, and not the one Mr. Drum actually wrote? That happens here a lot, I've noticed.

Posted by: Laertes at February 22, 2004 09:59 PM | PERMALINK

sadly, I have to agree that Clark and Edwards are prime examples of the same kind of candidate on the Dem. side, which is why I was never interested in either. Otherwise, I think Kevin's point is valid and is something that I have often wondered about, too - with the caveat that while I don't think that Bush has any special 'personality characteristics', apparently quite a few people geniunely believe that he does. So maybe that is a part of the answer.

Posted by: mara at February 22, 2004 09:59 PM | PERMALINK

I think what makes Bush such a good fit, and this would apply to Reagan (although I tend to think he was truly smarter and more thoughtful about his ideas than many gave him credit for) is that he is, as Mary C suggests, a figurehead. It's easy to dislike the people in his administration, but because Bush is so rarely the mouth that does the speaking, there tends to be a disconnect about where to place the blame. People see Bush in a pick-up, or throwing out first pitches, or in a flight suit, or feeding the troops (I know, we see it as a photo-op, most of America isn't that cynical) and he doesn't look like a bad guy. So, despite the fact that the policies and actions of his administration are arguably some of the most dangerous ever offered, it seems harder to blame Bush for it. I assume that this is how the GOP higher-ups would like it. Put a happy guy face in front of a radical agenda and it won't seem all that radical. Despite the fact that the sum of the staff tends to become the brain of the administration, we only vote for the one guy. If he is an affable, ah shucks kind of guy, it can't be that bad, can it? Imagine Cheney trying to do feel good photo-ops to front this agenda!!

Posted by: Boggs at February 22, 2004 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

Hello? Kevin? Wakey wakey. You hate Bush because he is a Republican, and you are a partisan nitwit.

There's really no more to it than that.

Posted by: me at February 22, 2004 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

Doesn't this hep give the lie to the claim that Bush hatred is different than Clinton hatred? Of course there are policy disagreements -- but there are policy disagreements between any Democratic or Republican president, hopefully. But ultimately, it boils down to visceral dislike for the person, as each one symbolizes what's wrong with the other party culturally.

Posted by: David Nieporent at February 22, 2004 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

lets see..
get over it.
move on.
this is 2004. not 2000.

Al: I'll be using that line back at you when you invoke Clinton's name as the root of all evil in any post from here forward.

Posted by: Boggs at February 22, 2004 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

Hitlery is in play now, liberal!

Posted by: Al at February 22, 2004 10:04 PM | PERMALINK


It's funny to see you folks in such a tizzy (like my stalker up there). He "doesn't deserve it". Jeez, you have this Bush-Hatred thing even worse than the Clinton-Haters of the mid-90s! Number of years of political experience have nothing to do with anything - he who wins the most electoral votes "deserves" the office. Period.

It is just getting more and more pathetic... I guarantee you that around 2011 (you know, about 3 years after GWB has left office), you'll STILL be blaming everything on Bush!

Posted by: Al at February 22, 2004 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

I know this is off topic(again),but something has struck a chord(screw?).Its intresting how this war of ours mirror's viet nam.LBJ did some very intresting things with his budget in the 60's that allowed him to 1)wage war 2)fund his great soceity 3)fund the moon mission.
If your following here thats an enormous amount of money going down the drain.Now fast forward and realise that the Bushies are doing almost the same thing.1)funding the war on terror 2)Massive tax cuts 3)huge increases to the budget in other areas.
If we go back and look at the 1970's and realise just how poor this nation was is it any suprise?I know I had no work and many others were in the same boat.Now if we project what was done on almost the same levels of spending and project it into the near term future.I see massive economic failure worse than in the 70's.
I may be a novice here and preaching to the choir but I havent read anything like this anywhere,and wondered if there is any? Can or do we really want to revisit the 70's again?(bell bottoms and all??)There must be something I'm not aware of that no one has brought this up.

Posted by: smalfish at February 22, 2004 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

Al: In 2011, Bush will still be serving time for some of his admins crimes.

Posted by: Boggs at February 22, 2004 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

Clintoon? ... ha! ... Hitlery is in play now, liberal!

This is my stalker writing.

Posted by: Al at February 22, 2004 10:08 PM | PERMALINK

From a marketing perspective, it's simple: Name recognition. Saves millions in branding marketing.

Some reportedly even though they were voting for 41.

Posted by: Gumnaam at February 22, 2004 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

"Can or do we really want to revisit the 70's again?(bell bottoms and all??)"

You mean it's not the seventies? Wait a minute, I'll lay down the doobie and check the clock. Yup. Midnight. Thursday. Bedtime.

Posted by: bob mcmanus at February 22, 2004 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

Al: In 2011, Bush will still be serving time for some of his admins crimes.

Yes. Bush will be in the cell right next to Bill Clinton for those crimes that Clinton committed at Mena, Arkansas.

Posted by: Al at February 22, 2004 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

Laertes, Kevin makes clear again in the first paragraph that he dislikes Bush. He mentions the old" reasons, and then lists the new: "...doesn't deserve to be president". Right after that, he points out that all but one president since FDR had had many years of political experience before becoming elected, and that's what makes him undeserving. Yet Clark has no politcal experience and Kevin wanted him to be president. I'm not speaking of his hypothesis. I'm speaking of his hypocrisy.

Posted by: Temp at February 22, 2004 10:10 PM | PERMALINK

"This is my stalker writing."

Speak for yourself, liberal tool ( as in trying to damage my message).
ridiculus, stop it.

Posted by: Al at February 22, 2004 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

Holy cow!Who let out all the trolls?

Posted by: smalfish at February 22, 2004 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

Say goodnight, stalker.

Posted by: Al at February 22, 2004 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

Screw u smal (with only one l, only smart conservatives spot this )fish.

I cant help it if liberal tools (trolls) stalk me.

Posted by: Al at February 22, 2004 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

screw u too, lil al!

Posted by: Al at February 22, 2004 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

Rev. Moon has personally taken credit for having the Bushes elected. How do you trolls feel about his endorsement?

Posted by: John G at February 22, 2004 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

Jeez, trolls be masking tonite!?

for the record , I am the PRO- Bush poster.

Posted by: Al at February 22, 2004 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

Remind me Al, is that where he ceded control of the world to the space creatures or where he signed the pact with Satan? Or is it where he raped all the little school girls while smoking crack with Fidel?

Posted by: Boggs at February 22, 2004 10:18 PM | PERMALINK

From a marketing perspective, it's simple: Name recognition. Saves millions in branding marketing.

Some reportedly even though they were voting for 41.

It makes really sad about Americans and the depths of thier decisions when voting for President, but I think it is probably no more complicated than this.

The Republicans wanted the White House back. 'Bush' was already recognized as a 'presidential' name. And it goes no deeper than that.

Damn, that sucks.

Posted by: Timothy Klein at February 22, 2004 10:18 PM | PERMALINK

Stalkers are out tonite.
Please fans, just read me, not Al.

Posted by: Al at February 22, 2004 10:18 PM | PERMALINK

Excellent point.

That dovetails quite nicely with Kevin Phillips' book. It was a dynastic succession -- there is no other way to explain how someone with such little experience could become governor of Texas and then President of the USA in such a short time.

Posted by: David at February 22, 2004 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

Damnit, who am I?

Posted by: Al at February 22, 2004 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

Fans =readers, lurkers.

Don't mean to be so conceited, but I do get a lot of supporting mail.

Bush 2004!

Posted by: Al at February 22, 2004 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

Re: my previous post:
Sorry, I meant read me, real Al, not fake Al.

Posted by: Al at February 22, 2004 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

bob mcmanus: Where did you get the smoke, man? I lost touch years ago with anyone who deals.

(DISCLAIMER: for any and all members of Aschcroft's army of the righteous; and/or any members of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies; Let it be understood: I was going for the laugh at the top of this post. In no way should said post be construed as a solicitation for a controlled substance via the internet via Calpundit).

Psssssst, BM-- we'll talk later.

Posted by: Sovereign Eye at February 22, 2004 10:22 PM | PERMALINK

Post: SORRY, I don't want to give the impression that you should not read dissenting lies, sujh as fake Al, I just get a little patriotic sometimes (pointing out anti american posts).

Posted by: Al at February 22, 2004 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

You forgot to count his time in the Guard.

Surely that is as good as an "Eisenhower exception".

Posted by: skillet-thief at February 22, 2004 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

"bob mcmanus: Where did you get the smoke, man? I lost touch years ago with anyone who deals."


And there isnt even a bob mcmanus here on this thread!!!
libdrools love their rugs!

Posted by: Al at February 22, 2004 10:26 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's part of that dumbing down of America thing, and the GOP was quick on that schtick. The less of a record their candidate has the less it can be waved by the opposition during the campaign -- thus their candidate is boiled down to telegenics and sound bites. The initially rally the base through typical GOP base issues, and then can rather more easily morph their image later in the campaign to appeal to independents with centrism. At least that's how I saw it work in 2000.

Posted by: Hyde Park at February 22, 2004 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

Maryc wrote:
"Yet, how could, or why would, a party have a preference for this type of detached, figure-head leader?"

Almost seems like they're trying for some twisted version of a British-like government -- separate Head of State (Bush) from Head of Government (Cheney/Rove/?). Let Bush do the ceremonial stuff and present the "face" of the government, while others do the heavy lifting (and, in this version, in the shadows...). In this incarnation, it's the "watch one hand while the other picks your pocket" kind of government.

Ehhh, that's not what Kevin was asking, but there are so many questions surrounding the surreal experience we are all having that you can't answer them all! ;-)

Personally, I think the answer is, per Occam's Razor, the simplest -- money and connections. His father might not have been popular with the rank-and-file after 1992, but the web of connections runs deep, and the moneymen were still very well connected to the family (witness Carlyle and all the corporate ties). Ugh. I hate even thinking about this -- I'm tired of having a government that can be, and is, bought and sold.

Posted by: Jill at February 22, 2004 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

The reason Bush won the nomination is simple -- from the very start (by which I mean 1995), he hd a huge lead in the preference polls of GOP primary voters. Why? Because -- as the pollsters later discovered -- fully 50% of the Republicans polled had him confused with his father, whom they assumed was considering running for a second non-consecutive term in the Grover Cleveland tradition.

But these polls, although based on a mistake by the voters, nevertheless made it clear to the GOP party stalwarts that he would be the easiest guy to get nominated with a minimum of expensive primary fighting -- and, since he was also ideologically acceptable, they quickly rallied around him and stuck with him. In short, a pure dumb historical accident, of the sort that has governed so much of human history.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at February 22, 2004 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

"So how did he do it? It remains, to me, the most mysterious of questions."

Ever heard of Skulls and Bones?!

Posted by: me at February 22, 2004 10:29 PM | PERMALINK

Actually Kevin's support for Clark is entirely consistent. Being a General with a distinguished career were the only credentials that gave Washington, Taylor, and Grant the right to pick flowers in the Rose Garden at will.

Teddy Roosevelt, also a war hero was only Governor for one term and Ike invented Clark's old job as NATO chief after being appointed president of Columbia U. No other president in history had less education and/or experience than the Shrub.

Even Grover Cleveland's law degree gave him more credibility than GW's MBA. If we're lucky this November, Junior will be enrolling in law school next year, boning up for his own trial.

Posted by: Mark Adams at February 22, 2004 10:31 PM | PERMALINK






whhoops caps lock.

Posted by: Al at February 22, 2004 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

stalker is screwing my rep up.

Posted by: Al at February 22, 2004 10:33 PM | PERMALINK

If the issue was name recognition and family connections wouldn't Jeb have been a more likely candidate than George? I mean, can anybody be more surprised that George made it to the White House than his family members must be?

Posted by: MaryC. at February 22, 2004 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

W is in because right wingers, as much as they want to lay claim to the 'rugged individualist' tag, deeply long for a monarch and the kind of rigid hierarchy you find in a monarchist/dynastic system.

These people seem to want to swallow anything, I mean any wildly contradictory or implausible claims the Bush Administration shoves down their throats, and if anyone else questions it they go apoplectic.

These are the folks, of course, who swallow a Texas Macho Man who only bought his ranch in 1999 and is apparently afraid of horses. A "reg'lar guy" whose dad was head of the CIA. These are the folks who rush to call their critics irrational nuts when their own guy boasts of having God give him direct advice on matters of state.

They want a divine monarch -- no doubts allowed or the fantasy withers and collapses.

Posted by: Peter at February 22, 2004 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

I know this should go to another,older, thread, but I wanted this to get back up again.

Posted by: me at February 22, 2004 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

I guess I look at it a little differently -- not so much that his previous life wasn't impressive enough to 'earn' the presidency, but that he gained the office by highly dubious means and then pursued viciously divisive (and destructive) policies and politics when first the exceptional election result and then 9/11 called for a unifying figure.

It's not that he doesn't deseve the office -- it's more that he never got the voters' permission for the policy U-turn he took us on.

Posted by: ColoZ at February 22, 2004 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

His affect is very... retarded, I can't think of any other word. Whenever I look at him, I think, "There is no way this guy is up to the job. Impossible."

Welcome to the "I underestimate(d) George Bush Club". Just about his entire domestic agenda has passed. He got approval for action in Iraq from both the UN and the Congress. Most of his judge nominees have been sworn in. He has successfully led two invasions of countries that had significant roles in the war on terror. In the first 4 years of the Clinton administration Clinton had a hard time finding the bathroom let along getting anything done. Perot said running Arkansas was like being the manager of a big Wal-Mart and he was right. Clinton, fortunately for him, was smart enough to learn on the job and to hire Dick Morris. With the exception of his personal failures his last 3 years were pretty good because he essentially became a moderate Republican.

I play poker. GWB is a poker player. Successful poker players are good at fooling people into misjudging them and their cards. W is a good poker player. Just ask Saddam Hussein and the Taliban. He raised and they re-raised because they thought he didn't have the guts and would fold. He didn't.

GWB became president because he got lucky. He ran against Al Gore who ran one of the worst campaigns in modern history. GWB became the Republican nominee by surrounding himself with a very good campaign manager and staff and let them do their job. All good managers and executives do that. Kerry is not a good manager or executive. He has never run anything.

President Bush doesn't nearly have the intelligence of Bill Clinton or Al Gore, but he is not dumb. If his opponents keep thinking that he is and keep judging him by his somewhat goofy appearence and West Texan language skills then he will win big in 2004.

Posted by: Dennis Slater at February 22, 2004 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

You know, "I support Clark, who has no political experience" isn't incompatible with "I have no idea why the GOP picked a political neophyte last time, for the first time in postwar history."

As to why he won, it's easy: he satisfied every wing of the party better than anyone else, he's fairly personable, and he wasn't ugly. On economic policy, he's a supply-sider's wet dream; on social policy, he's perfected the art of pretending not to be a crazy fundamentalist while doing the wink-and-nod act to the evangelicals.

The GOP also was a bit gunshy about the orderly succession thing after the "next guy in line" - Dole - got slaughtered in '96.

Posted by: Jason McCullough at February 22, 2004 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

W is in because right wingers, as much as they want to lay claim to the 'rugged individualist' tag, deeply long for a monarch and the kind of rigid hierarchy you find in a monarchist/dynastic system.

Pure bull sh*t.

Posted by: Dennis Slater at February 22, 2004 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

Why did they pick him?

Part of it was an early feeling that Gore was going to be a tough beat. The Clinton record was strong, and Gore didnt have any scandals to deal with.

Look at who ran. Dole was not a serious candidate. McCain was, at least when I was in Washington, considered the biggest a--hole on the Hill. Bush had good name recognition and ran in a year when I believe a lot of GOPers didnt want to put their personal reputation on the line for a difficult election.

Plus, I think the Congressional leaders thought they could push him around.

Posted by: Doug at February 22, 2004 11:01 PM | PERMALINK

If it's pure bullshit, what then do you see in the man, Mr. Slater? He's a phony through and through and yet his supporters simply refuse to step back and look at the man's record.

(I mean, really, all that Texas crap alone -- have you ever seen the motherfucker on a horse on that 'ranch' of his? And that's the least of it. Talk about bullshit.)

Posted by: peter at February 22, 2004 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

He got approval for action in Iraq from both the UN...

You MUST be kidding.

Posted by: Irrational Bush Hatred at February 22, 2004 11:09 PM | PERMALINK

I think it is a legitimate thing to discuss, and I don't think raising the issue should be thrown back in one's face as a sign that he is strictly out to trash Bush.

First, we should ask, how did he get nominated? Yeah, I know, he won the primaries. Yeah, I know the money was showered on him. But those are parts of a larger process of "power politics". McCain was the chief opponent, right? But McCain is not exactly a "predictable" hard line conservative, is he? So the power base of the Republican party saw to it that he would not get the nod. Simple as that. One could ask, "why did the power base settle on Bush rather than someone else?" My guess is that there were enough connections with the last elected Republican administration that they steered it to Bush the younger, because they saw a future in it for themselves. The portrait they were able to present of Bush as a "unifier" in Texas, as a compassionate person, as a kind of regular guy who knew how to delegate and would surround himself with capable specialists --- that was all part of the package that was being sold (as in selling a product via advertisiing and endorsements). And, I think they had the imagination to project Bush as being the antithesis of Clinton, and had the balls to bet that he would come across as a clear break with the "President who brought the office into disrespect while disgracing himself." For many of us, that was about all we expected from the next President; just be a straight shooter with some principles. How many voters, after all, took the time to become students of Bush's past in business and with the Rangers, etc.? "Few" or "not enough" would be acceptable answers to this rhetorical question.

So that puts him in the nominee position... and clearly he would not have been as likely to get it had he not been "a Bush".

So then, how did he get the electoral votes to win? In fact, how did he even get close enough to make what happened in Florida relevant?

In my opinion he won by forfeit. As a voter, I thought, "anyone but a guy who could stomach working for Clinton." I'd have voted for Bradley, big time... would have worked for him, although he wasn't a "perfect candidate". In my opinion the real question is not "how did Bush get to be president?", but rather "how could the Democrats have chosen Gore to run against him? And, I think they will be making the same mistake if Kerry runs against him.

Clearly, the voting public wanted to sever the Clinton years from the years that followed. By voting for Gore, I felt I would be sort of be accepting (and even endorsing) the crappola that was associated with Clinton. I didn't vote for either Bush or Gore --- but I certainly would have been fine with voting for any one of as
number of Democrats had they become serious candidate.

The Democrats were not smart enough to nominate someone who could beat Bush (which should have been very possible)

To understand why Bush could win the general election while essentially "credentialless", one has only to look at Clinton/Gore".

Posted by: Terry Ott at February 22, 2004 11:10 PM | PERMALINK

My cousin from Texas had the simplest expalination, and it didn't involve confusion that the voters had between aWol and his father.

To put it simply, Bush looked and acted like a reasonable person to the uninformed observer. The Republicans couldn't afford someone who reminds you of a cleaned-up geek who chews off the heads of small creatures like the current VP and they knew that aWol would be putty in their hands when it came to implementing pro-corporate, anti-environmental, anti-labor policies. Add to that the usual Republican tendancy to use lies, money, etc. to get their way, and behold: President Chimpy, the Millard Fillmore of the 21st Century.

Now that the facade has fallen off, and Dean has reminded every other Democrat around that they have a pair of gonads(except Wes Clark, he knew what he had already).

The Republicans stepped into the ring this year, expecting the usual 'above-the-fray' Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm Democratic approach, and instead find themselves face-to-face with a real war hero who can take a punch and throw an uppercut twice as hard in response.

Hey, Al(the real one): What's the difference between George W. Bush and Jane Fonda?

Jane went to Vietnam.

Posted by: The Dark Avenger at February 22, 2004 11:12 PM | PERMALINK

This is why I vote for Bush.

Posted by: bush04 at February 22, 2004 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

Doug is right.

The only people more astonished than the Democrats to see Gore lose were the Republicans!

Posted by: QueNoSabe at February 22, 2004 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

It's not that he doesn't deseve the office -- it's more that he never got the voters' permission for the policy U-turn he took us on.

BS. Look at the polls leading up to the war and after the war started. They were extremely favorable. You memory is very faulty. He has had voter's support in almost all polls up until recently when there has been non-stop Bush Bashing on the news every night. The response of the administration to this unprecedented number attacks every night has not been impressive. I am surprised that 50% of the people polled still support him even after all the negativism coming from the media every day and night.

Keep in mind.

1. The economy is recovering. The unemployment leve is at 5.6% which is decent. It is trending downward. More jobs will be created this year. The trend will be up.
2. Iraq is being rebuilt. The attacks on our troops and Iraqis in Iraq are not coming from Iraqis but from outsiders. There are a lot problems there but the Iraqis are gradually assuming responsibility for their country. There were a lot of problems there before we threw Saddam out too. Starvation and lack of basic freedoms to name a couple.
3. 100 million in the war chest. More is coming in every day. Not from just 'special interests' either. The Republicans have a huge database of supporters and the money to mobilize them.
4. There are reports that OBL is surrounded. Whether that is true or not remains to be seen.

Posted by: Dennis Slater at February 22, 2004 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

Should be "explaination".

Unlike Al and aWol, I can admit my mistakes.

Posted by: The Dark Avenger at February 22, 2004 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

I grew up in Texas and I know this guy and his ilk in my bones. Not a bad sort to sit next to on a barstool swigging Lone Star and swapping stories, but you probably wouldn't let him manage a lemonade stand for you. And you would never, ever lend him any money!

So how did he wind up Preznit? The GOP Star Chamber, alerted by Karl Rove, quickly tagged him as a maluable empty vessel blessed with the family name and fortune. To the Wal-Martians he was marketed as the Christian Marlboro Man, the Compassionate Dirty Harry draped in red white and blue rodeo bunting. An accessable, plodding Everyman who was the antithesis of the bright, quick and profoundly hated Slick Willy.

Functionally he serves exactly the same role as Reagan, the disinterested but loveable figurehead who will read whatever scrolls up on the teleprompter. And with conviction too! Someone who is perfectly willing to let the ideologues and corporate shills run things as long as he has plenty of vacation time on the ranch. Of course his administration is an abysmal failure, possibly the worst of the past century. The poor guy is practically the poster child for Victims of Social Promotion. Let me pass on this illustrative little story:

While suturing a laceration on the hand of a 70-year-old Texas rancher (whose hand had been caught in a gate while working cattle), a doctor and the old man were talking about George W. Bush being in the White House. The old Texan said, "Well, ya know, Bush is a 'post turtle'."

Not knowing what the old man meant, the doctor asked him what a post turtle was. The old man said, "When you're driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that's a post turtle."

The old man saw a puzzled look on the doctor's face, so he continued to explain, "You know he didn't get there by himself, he doesn't belong there, he can't get anything done while he's up there, and you just want to help the poor stupid bastard get down."

Posted by: Jim in Austin at February 22, 2004 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

Christopher Caldwell, a conservative and Senior Editor of The Weekly Standard, put it best about Bush's "experience":

"What kills the President is that every time Harken comes up, Democrats get to retell the story of how he made his money. And this, basically, is the story of the spectacular unfairness with which moneymaking opportunities are lavished on the politically connected. It is the story of a man who has been rewarded for repeated failures by having money shot at him through a fire hose. It is the story of a man who talks with a straight face about having "earned" a fortune of tens of millions of dollars. "


Posted by: keef at February 22, 2004 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

"I am surprised that 50% of the people polled still support him even after all the negativism coming from the media every day and night."

Whaat negativism???I watch tv regularly to see the negativity and I see very little of it.In fact I see more rah rah for Bush then we ever saw for Clinton.There is clearly more conservative reporters on tv than liberals.And we can trade names if you think its not true.We face an unbearable loss of truth on tv when it comes to bush and his face time.Dont come off as hurt that he gets negativity because its just not true and YOU KNOW IT!

Posted by: bush04 at February 22, 2004 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

You offer what it is worst about bush,his lies and yet you complain when he gets critisied for being a liar.How hypocritical is that?

Posted by: smalfish at February 22, 2004 11:33 PM | PERMALINK

haha, Jim, that's great.

Posted by: scarshapedstar at February 22, 2004 11:33 PM | PERMALINK

THe Gop has become THE party of lies and its about time they got off that horse because its been rode hard and put up wet too many times.

Posted by: smalfish at February 22, 2004 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans depend on CEO style candidates (I would include Ike, Reagan and Bush II in this list) when they find it neigh impossible to reconcile factions in their party. In 52, Ike sat between the Internationalist Republicans Flanders, Vandenberg, and the Right Populists (McCarthy) and Isolationists such as Taft who had voted against the UN, NATO and much else. And Ike was not even a Republican till about a year before the election in 1952.

Reagan too had been a Democrat -- even a Leftie apparently, if the number of times his picture and quotes from him appearing between 42 and 45 in the Daily Worker and other Communist pubs is any measure. In fact, his role was "Chairman of the Board" -- not really activist President. The people who built him up in California in the 50's and then made him Governor did so because he was willing to act the role, and let the real action take place behind the scenes.

Bush II was selected for the same general reasons, but in large measure because he is of the baby boomer generation, The Republicans realized that was an element in the charm of Bill Clinton, and for the 2000 contest had to look for someone born after 1945. But they also needed someone who could satisfy both their business wing and their restive Christian Right clan. Those "images" of a future CEO trumped any call to look at merit or accomplishment.

As to Clark -- Well, I've read his first book so I know about his White House Fellowship in the Office of Management and Budget -- I know about his job during the Carter years -- officed with Colin Powell working out the details for rebuilding the Army as an all volunteer outfit post Vietnam -- revision of military training and operations doctrine in light of that change, selling it to Congress, running it through the Staff Colleges and all. And then I know about his JCS job during the Clinton years -- double teaming with Richard Holbrooke on Bosnia, and then of course his NATO command. All that involved massive interfsce with Congress as well as Executive and Military bureaucracy.

I actually think one of the key qualities of any good President of either party is the mastery of very large complex organizations, and the demonstration of effective leadership ability in such a setting. I am not certain that years in elective office necessarily measure that quality.

Posted by: Sara at February 22, 2004 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

Is there such a thing anymore as "good Presidents" If recent history is our guide I say its getting worse and worse and worse......

Posted by: smalfish at February 22, 2004 11:38 PM | PERMALINK

When trolls get trolled, it's not pretty. One of the Al's has had a long and productive online life trolling, and being fed well. Now a smarter, meaner troll, a troll with nothing to lose has entered the territory, to challenge Al, the evil/good anti-Al is the name of this troll, he looks like Al, he trolls like Al, he eats like Al, he looks like Al, but brother, he ain't Al!

The sad thing is that Al can't help feeding Al, causing Al+ to grow ever more ravenous and aggressive.

Could Al+ be an agent of Al Quaeda?

Only George Bush knows, but sadly is incapable of clearly communicating his knowledge.

Anyway, on to the real subject, it's always struck me that the career of George Bush is the only thing that really makes me believe in the myth of an Anti-Christ.

Posted by: bryan at February 22, 2004 11:56 PM | PERMALINK

"He has successfully led two invasions of countries that had significant roles in the war on terror."

I wish I could "lead" things "successfully" the way Bush did. I wouldn't have to do any work at all except to read a few speeches pushed under my nose and I could declare success simply by pretending that everything is going to plan. (I'm reminded of Bart Simpson trying to pretend that he successfully trained his dog in obedience school: "Um, take a walk. Sniff that other dog's butt. See? He does exactly what I tell him.")

Posted by: Ernest Tomlinson at February 22, 2004 11:59 PM | PERMALINK

It pains me to admit this, but . . .

As a Texan, I'll have to say that Bush's governorship here was impressive. He demonstrated bipartisan leadership (winning over powerful Democrats who were hell-bent on slapping him down). He was able to use what little "bully pulpit" he had as a Texas governor to get some sorely-needed reforms passed in Texas.

I don't think it's unreasonable to say his success as governor here was a factor in him being annointed by the Republican kingmakers.

Of course, raising an obscene amount of money helped him overcome a real-deal adversary like McCain.

Then there's name recognition. We all know stories of how name-recognition alone has won the day in politics.

Bush also had story. Mythic, even. Bush is the prodigal son made real. He was the hero of the "I'm lookin' for the man that shot my pa" melodrama. He's a Texan to those who can't tell "all-hat-no-cattle" from the real thang.

Regardless, I'll suggest that the moment that put him in office and made him the messiah of the conservatives was when he was asked which philosopher influenced him the most. His answer? " Jesus Christ, because he changed my life."

That was his moment. A sickening moment for thinking people, but undoubtedly a formidable display of perfect political Aikido.

Why pussyfoot around about the matter? The *average* American is a C student. The *average* American can't spell "Beethoven" but knows the first verse of _Amazing Grace_ by heart.

Ignorance and Superstition are alive and well in America. President Bush *is* America: we're reckless and corrupt simpletons dancing to the tune of the ones who can afford to pay the fiddler.

May God/Allah/Zeus/Harvey-The-Six-Feet-Tall-Rabbit bless America.

Posted by: soodoh at February 23, 2004 12:07 AM | PERMALINK

Bush has in common with Reagan a short working day and an early bedtime. IIRC, Reagan was in his pajamas watching movies by 5:30. IIRC, Bush, after an exhausting day of travel on September 11, got back to the White House around 8:30 and went straight to bed, only to be roused and hustled into the basement shelter by a fresh rumor.

Posted by: bad Jim at February 23, 2004 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

Sigh, good post soodoh. I think you hit the nail on the head there.

Although I will gently quibble with you about what bipartisanship actually means in Texas. There are Democrats down there that are way to the right of many northern Republicans (e.g. Olympia Snowe).

Here's a freaky question to ask yourself in the lonely watches of the night: why is Zell Miller a Democrat and Olympia Snowe a Republican?

Posted by: Ted at February 23, 2004 12:39 AM | PERMALINK

It's not about hating W. Its about hating to see such an unaccomplished person become President of the United States. I'm from Texas, and have known a lot of guys like W (born on 3rd base and thinking they hit a triple.) Normally, these guys can be charming and funny when you're knocking back a few or playing some golf, but there's no way I'd want one of these guys running the country.

And as for being Governor in Texas, I would equate that job to being the greeter at the door of your local Wal Mart. He's the guy you see, but he ain't running the place.

So beyond his fairly ceremonial postion of Governor during a time of great economic prosperity, the only real "accomplishment" I can see that W has ever had was the millions he made on a sweetheart deal at the expense of Arlington taxpayers and some poor dumb landowners who didn't have the political connections to keep W from getting the city of Arlington to annex their land for pennies on the dollar.

And by the way, the press won't touch this with a ten foot poll, but it looks to be pretty obvious that W committed some pretty obvious tax evasion to keep that windfall's tax hit low.

Posted by: John McKinzey at February 23, 2004 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

So how did he wind up Preznit? The GOP Star Chamber, alerted by Karl Rove, quickly tagged him as a maluable empty vessel blessed with the family name and fortune. To the Wal-Martians he was marketed as the Christian Marlboro Man, the Compassionate Dirty Harry draped in red white and blue rodeo bunting. An accessable, plodding Everyman who was the antithesis of the bright, quick and profoundly hated Slick Willy.

Functionally he serves exactly the same role as Reagan, the disinterested but loveable figurehead who will read whatever scrolls up on the teleprompter. And with conviction too! Someone who is perfectly willing to let the ideologues and corporate shills run things as long as he has plenty of vacation time on the ranch. Of course his administration is an abysmal failure, possibly the worst of the past century. The poor guy is practically the poster child for Victims of Social Promotion.

Don't forget he was always ready to be bought and paid for. His backers knew what they were buying.

However, some of the more observant and thinking Republicans must be asking what the hell did they buy? This guy's luck is awful and this time instead of taking down a small time oil company, he's bringing down the entire country. And they probably didn't count on his standing by his "gut" even if everyone else in the world tells him his gut is wrong. There must be more than a few that have buyer's remorse.

Posted by: Mary at February 23, 2004 01:07 AM | PERMALINK

Soodah and John McKinzey: You two have reinforced a lifetime's experience of my never having made the acquaintence of any Texan (however fleeting, as in your posts), and afterwards feeling indifferent about them. For some reason, I've always really liked Texans a lot, or I don't like them at all-- there's never a middle ground. It's strange, because that hasn't been true with any other folks, from any other state.

Posted by: Sovereign Eye at February 23, 2004 01:10 AM | PERMALINK

Bush is a familiar phony, like Reagan, like Schwarzenegger. An American Idol. The average voter can identify with him. If we liked real things, would we swallow McDonald's hamburgers?

Posted by: bad Jim at February 23, 2004 01:29 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, he's a chearleader. A guy chearleader? Who's not a gymnast???

Posted by: greymattermom at February 23, 2004 01:30 AM | PERMALINK

Several posters have hit on aspects of this, but let me try to nail it more precisely.

1. Republicans know that their platform -- particularly its economic aspects -- is inherently less appealing to ordinary people than the Democratic platform. (This doesn't have to be a partisan point. From a GOP angle, you could phrase is that the Demo platform is more easily demagogued along class-warfare lines.)

2. As a result, they place a high value on candidates whose personal appeal -- via some combination of name recognition and gut-level impressions of their personality -- can trump policy stands in a national campaign. An aw-shucks persona, together with some level of celebrity, makes it easier for voters to think of a candidate as "sharing their values" and thus being on the side of the common man. If Republican didn't already know this before 1980, Reagan clinched it once and for all.

3. Bush was the only feasible candidate in 2000 who could pull off this trick. (Dole in 1996 shows what happens when the GOP has no one capable of it.) Moreover, the impact of his name's value would diminish over time, so he had to be brought forward quickly.

That's really all there is to it. And in case anyone hasn't figured it out yet, the only Republican on the scene who's demonstrated an ability to pull off the "Reagan trick" is the current governor of California. So I wasn't surprised at all to see the Constitutional-amendment lobbying begin on Meet the Press last Sunday.

Posted by: Swopa at February 23, 2004 01:41 AM | PERMALINK

LOL. As I was typing up the long version, "bad Jim" said the same thing more succinctly.

Anyway, Kevin, that's your answer -- the GOP consciously recruits these guys nowadays.

Posted by: Swopa at February 23, 2004 01:45 AM | PERMALINK

People have lots of different reasons for picking who to vote for. Bush is a blank screen candidate: you can project whatever qualities you like on him, and there isn't a lot of documentary evidence to contradict you. He appeals to several categories of Republican voters, where an Arnold Schwartzeneggar or a Ralph Reed or a Dick Cheney would have drawn one group and left the others cold.

Another factor is that "record" reporting seems to be even more rare than "issue" reporting. When the news manages to look past the horse race for a second, all they seem to do is throw up charts of candidates' nearly indistinguishable summarized positions. Wouldn't it be interesting to see the Presidential race treated like a job interview at times? I would love to see a show where the candidates all submit their greatest accomplishment and the reporters dig in and give us detailed, pro and con looks into each one.

Posted by: sonya at February 23, 2004 02:14 AM | PERMALINK

Carry on, swopa. Thanks for the buttering up, but you express everything more expansively and explicitly, and that is what we need.

At some point we're going to have to clean up after this debauched debacle. Nature bats last. At some point physics is not just a good idea, it's the law.

Posted by: bad Jim at February 23, 2004 02:15 AM | PERMALINK

Anyone else notice how Dennis Slater just happened to claim that GWB got approval from the UN for Iraq, and when challenged on that further down the thread has conspicuosly failed to back his claim with fact. While we're at it, in a later post he claims "The attacks on our troops and Iraqis in Iraq are not coming from Iraqis but from outsiders." Well, it seems that not everyone agrees with that either. Just an example from today's Washington Post: "Some military officials, however, have pointed to Iraqis loyal to the ousted regime of Saddam Hussein as possibly behind the attacks. Guerrillas have been waging a campaign of shootings and roadside bombings against U.S, troops, particularly in the so-called "Sunni Triangle" in central Iraq where Saddam had strong support."

Posted by: danjo at February 23, 2004 02:16 AM | PERMALINK

Back on topic (sorry):

Replace 'political experience' with 'public service' in Kevin's original post, and Eisenhower and Clark fit the bill just as well as any of the others.

W, however, does not.

Posted by: durakje at February 23, 2004 02:22 AM | PERMALINK

He got the nomination because, among other things, the Republican party didn't have TIME to hash things out properly, in the face of McCain's hostile takeover attempt. Bush was the guy who could be settled on QUICKLY.

And then he won the election because he had the extreme fortune of running against Al Gore. It's as simple as that.

Never underestimate the significance of luck in the real world.

Posted by: Brett Bellmore at February 23, 2004 03:02 AM | PERMALINK

All the Republican Party needs in a Presidential candidate is a charismatic puppet. The Reagan Administration wasn't run by Reagan (who was showing signs of Alzheimer's long before he left office), but by his handlers, notably the Heritage Foundation which picked his staff and "think-tanked" his policies. All he had to do was look good and read his lines (or be prompted by Nancy).

If Reagan's senile dementia was no bar to being a Puppet President, why expect Bush's vacuity to be a stumbling point?

Posted by: Raven at February 23, 2004 03:30 AM | PERMALINK

Brett Bellmore wrote at February 23, 2004 03:02 AM:

"And then he won the election because he had the extreme fortune of running against Al Gore. It's as simple as that."

Well, no, it wasn't as simple as that. Otherwise, the RNC and its lapdog media wouldn't have needed to flood the news with false accusations against Gore for a solid year beforehand, the Republican-run state governments (not just in Florida) wouldn't have needed to purge the voting rolls of likely Gore voters and then also manipulate the vote-counting systems, and the Supreme Court wouldn't have needed to step in and stop the Florida recount. With all that, Gore still managed to get half a million more votes.

Which makes "[Bush] won the election" only a half-truth. It would be truer to say "he got the office".

Posted by: Raven at February 23, 2004 03:38 AM | PERMALINK

Bush was handed the position because he had name recognition and because, speaking of family, his brother and the people his father had already put on the Supreme Court had enough control of things to tip the balance. And he was able to qualify for taking part in the putsch because he was regarded by the Republicans as being suitable for imposing on the country their regressive, retarded agenda, and, as long as a candidate can be depended on to push that agenda, they aren't particular about the quality of the person they back. Unlike Democrats, Republicans have a noticeable shortage of people of good character, high principles, and intellectual capacity. That ties in with one other important factor -- Repubs knew that that Bush's mediocrity would allow him to be seen as less threatening and toxic than the other scalawags that they could've put forward at that time.

There are millions in this country who could do a better job of being President, and a man whose main thing is to say "Boo!" all the time cannot be said to be any sort of leader. Instead the U.S. has been having all the appearance to me of operating on autopilot, dropping off soldiers here and there by parachute to scour unlucky places but otherwise just lumbering along, though slowly losing moral altitude.

Posted by: Sofarsogoo at February 23, 2004 04:09 AM | PERMALINK

How do you think he does it? I Don't know ... that Deaf, Dumb and Blind kid sure plays a mean pinball.

Posted by: Charlie P at February 23, 2004 04:09 AM | PERMALINK

But Reagan delivered us from the Communists! Didn't he?

Posted by: bad Jim at February 23, 2004 04:16 AM | PERMALINK

Still stranger than the original Calpundit post: I distinctly recall reading a wire story (AP, most likely) stating that GWB was the front-runner for the 2000 nomination, two days after Clinton's re-election. Imagine picking up a newspaper in December 2000 and reading that Edwards was leading the pack for 2004!

How to explain? The Kevin Philips "dynasty" argument makes a lot of sense, particularly as interpreted above by Terry Ott and Jill. GHWB spent nearly three decades building a political machine which GWB more or less inherited -- once he'd made it clear that he would operate to his father's right. MaryC. notes that Jeb seemed a more likely candidate than GWB, but he blew his place at the head of the succession by losing his gubernatorial bid in '94. Also, during his first few years in office, GWB seems to have boosted his own cause with some very effective networking among his GOP-governor peers. I don't know whether to believe it, but I've several times read that he's noticeably more articulate and persuasive in small-group or one-on-one situations than the GWB we see on TV.

Posted by: penalcolony at February 23, 2004 04:22 AM | PERMALINK

I believe that if you go back and look at the polls, you'll find that you're the one with the faulty memory. It was only when the public realized shortly before the invasion that Bush was going to war no matter what that polling for the war, without the U.N.'s support, increased, and even that was simple "rally around the flag".

Kevin's referring to a lot more than the Iraq War, I'll bet. And he's right: the polling for most of Bush's initiatives has never been strong. Bush has enjoyed a significant bump thanks to 9/11. It didn't last.

Bush bashing? Is that what you call it when reporters actually report on issues in a way that's not worshipful of Bush? Please. Bush has received the biggest free pass of any president in modern memory.

Let's address your points:

1) The economy has been recovering for three years, with the most sub-par job creation in living memory. "Unemployment" isn't fooling anyone, when everyone is aware of the lack of jobs and the fact that unemployment is where it is because a lot of people have stopped looking for work.

More damning is the fact that Bush has set expectations very, very high with his ludicrous jobs forecast. It isn't going to happen, and when it doesn't, it will be easy to point that out.

2) Iraq is in deep trouble, we can't get a basic plan for self-government hashed out (why wasn't one created before we went in???), and attacks, especially on Iraqi civilians, are continuing largely unabated. Most poeple are now aware that we went to war for WMD's that weren't there, and many people are blaming Bush for that (rightfully, IMHO).

3) Although he's not the only one, Bush's money has come, for a large part, from $2000+ donations. He's clearly getting a goodly chunk of his money from very wealthy donors.

And if Dean's experience taught us anything, it showed that it's possible to blow a huge chunk of cash very quickly with very little to show for it. The Bush campaign's efforts up until now have been pretty disappointing, and it doesn't help that they're now setting expectations high by boasting about the upcoming "Ad Blitz of Doom". If Kerry (presumably the nominee) is still standing after that, all we'll hear about is how unstoppable Kerry is, and how out-of-options Bush is.

4) Possible, but I wouldn't put much faith in them. And even if true, Bush's polling has been in constant free fall throughout his presidency (the price of governing by political gimmick). Even if bin Laden were caught right now, Bush would still be eminently beatable in November.

Posted by: Jonathan at February 23, 2004 04:47 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry, that should be "ColoZ" who was referring to the "policy U-turn".

Posted by: Jonathan Williams at February 23, 2004 04:50 AM | PERMALINK

The answer is George Bush is the first Amway President.

Think about it; the various Pioneers are all on the ground floor, making money hand over fist. Meanwhile, those who voted for Bush are sitting there with truckloads of detergent sitting idly in their garages.

Posted by: JadeGold at February 23, 2004 04:58 AM | PERMALINK

As a Texas resident, I can say it was electoral math. The RNC wanted the Texas electoral votes in the bag, so it had to be Bush....Texans are big on image and short on solutions. We'll soon see the Bush legacy in action here as our public schools tank due to lack of funding.....

Posted by: Richard at February 23, 2004 05:07 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I guess this rules out Edwards as president.

Posted by: Timmy the Wonder Dog at February 23, 2004 05:41 AM | PERMALINK

I also would like to know where Dennis Slater gets his notion that "Bush-bashing" is any sort of feature of "the Media"; by which, I assume, that he means "Big Media"; i.e., the TV networks/major newspapers/magazine publishers, etc.: Until very very recently (say, since 1/1/04) "negativism" about Bush and his Administration has been quite a rare commodity in the "mainstream" media: some more ideological outlets (e.g., News Corp.) have been outright cheerleaders for Dubya, most have given Bush 43 a pass on serious criticism - until now, when a combination of factors (Iraq, economy, govt. deficits, etc.) have suddenly, glaringly, pointed out that the Administration's rosy scenarios about how well W. is doing are Potemkin-village facades: propped up by a well-financed GOP spin-machine, and enabled by a Republican establishment fanatic to hold onto power.
The blogosphere, though, is a different situation: where the public (in all its colllective glory) can vent its opinions unfiltered, "Bush-bashing", and its collolary mindless defensiveness, can flourish as never before. But most folks (so far) still get their news from "Big Media" - and, as is human nature, I guess, mostly just see and hear what they want to.

Posted by: Jay C. at February 23, 2004 05:42 AM | PERMALINK

Hillary -- will we conclude she is fit?
0 gubernatorial
0 military
0 management of a complex organization
1 term in Senate

I happen to think not, but will think this is fine.
Or do we give partial credit for serving by osmosis?

Posted by: Terry Ott at February 23, 2004 05:54 AM | PERMALINK

"Perhaps the Republican Party prefers someone who can be manipulated rather than someone able to make independent decisions."

Dead-on. Republicans are about power and they prefer a stooge (e.g., Reagan, Bush I and II)in the presidency so they use the wealth and power of the US (funded by the schlump tax payers) to serve their interests.

Bush was perfect for the role, McCain was not.

Posted by: gak at February 23, 2004 05:56 AM | PERMALINK

Correction; sorry
.... "but MANY will think this is fine"

Posted by: Terry Ott at February 23, 2004 05:56 AM | PERMALINK

By order of our order, I dub thee knight of Euloga.


Posted by: Chad Peterson at February 23, 2004 06:04 AM | PERMALINK

The fleas are hoppin!

Posted by: Al at February 23, 2004 06:06 AM | PERMALINK

Bush may be a knuckle-head but he's not stoopid.

Quite some time ago Krugman had a quotation from Bush, I believe, from the 2000 campaign:

"You can fool some of the people (conservative Christians?) all of the time. And those are the ones you've got to concentrate on."

How about an ideas-for-bumperstickers contest?

Posted by: obscure at February 23, 2004 06:06 AM | PERMALINK

Bush won the nomination due to big early money, name recognition--both born of no merit other than being a Bush--and an absence of better contenders. He appealed to three core pillars of the GOP: a veneer of religious piety, Southern racism, and corrupt crony capitalism. The GOP trifecta.

Why did almost half of American voters vote Republican in 2000? A more complex question, but IMO it was a combination of an energized base on the right (the bible-thumpers and racists) and a very real split on the left in this country. Clinton energized the virtue-crats and disappointed the progressives for 8 years. Gore excited very few on the left that I knew, it's that simple. The bias of the media also was a very large part of it, but that is another complex subject.

Bush still only "won" based on the immoral, racist dienfranchisement in Florida. Republicans can stand proud knowing they can only win by screwing Black people. Another shining example of true GOP morality, utterly ignored in the American media.

Americans in general aren't nearly as right-wing as Bush and the GOP--it's just that the right is disciplined, vicious and aftre losing for a long time, figured out how to win elections. In politics, organization beats disorganization, always. The left won't start winning again en masse until it organizes and unifies, its leaders start fighting back hard, and give leftists a reason to come to the polls. They need to start by tearing the Pugs a new assh*le for the last few budgets, and the utter financial Depression that a large portion of this country is now in.

Posted by: Tim B. at February 23, 2004 06:13 AM | PERMALINK

His job was simplyr to turn the spigots on and empty the public treasury into the pockets of his cronies.

Mission accomplished!

Posted by: jri at February 23, 2004 06:18 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, now we've joined the issue.

Kevin Drum asks us, HOW DID HE [GWB] DO IT?


Hey Kevin -- Wake UP. Political "Experience" is the worst kind of skill set to bring to the Presidency. Clinton's main problem is that he was a child of politics -- the only jobs he EVER held were in politics. Why was Gray Davis a disaster? Same answer.

What GWB brought to the table was real-world experience and character. Are you dumb enough to believe he pressed for war with Iraq to enhance his electability? He could have kicked the can down the road like his predecessor if all he was worried about was his second term.

I suggest you turn your search inwards -- your real question is your own mid-life crisis.

Posted by: Norman Rogers at February 23, 2004 06:19 AM | PERMALINK

GWB was pure gold to GOP ideologues because he could be hammered into any shape or position they wanted. Look up "malleable". With a mind so weak and a name so strong, he was a perfect tool. Recall O'Neil's observation of Rove putting Bush down with "Stick to principle..stick to principle", when Bush questioned additional tax cuts for the rich?
The fact is that Bush did not emerge from the pack and ascend to the presidency in any sort of a normal way. He was dressed up, promoted, indoctrinated, and sold to the public in what is probably the world's greatest bait and switch.

Posted by: Joe B at February 23, 2004 06:20 AM | PERMALINK

First of all, experience, intellect, and any sense of regard for the nation's interest are irrelevant categories for the Republicans who make these decisions. I think it came down to a sense, validated to some extent by events, that he had the sort of likeable, common man persona that would appeal to the Republican base. In a sense, a man who would be beloved like Reagan.

Posted by: Bob H at February 23, 2004 06:23 AM | PERMALINK

Hillary -- will we conclude she is fit?

I realize that 'wingers often have trouble processing facts, evidence or information that supports opinions they've been told not to have, but pssst . . . Hillary isn't running for president!

Don't try to process it, wouldn't want your brain to implode

Posted by: Molly, NYC at February 23, 2004 06:30 AM | PERMALINK

This article speaks volumes...

Bush Wins Triple Trifecta as Worst President Ever
By Harvey Wasserman
Monday 16 February 2004

"The worst president in our lifetime" is how many Americans view George W. Bush. But Bush is not merely the worst president in recent memory. He's the worst in all US history. And he's won the distinction not on a weakness or two, but in at least nine separate categories, giving him a triple trifecta.

It's a record unmatched by any previous president.

Let's count the ways...

Posted by: standa at February 23, 2004 06:31 AM | PERMALINK

Bush did it by raising so much more money than his opponents. It so intimidated the other Republican candidates that they dropped out. Then he coasted into office on partisan loyalty and weak scrutiny by the press.

Posted by: DanM at February 23, 2004 06:33 AM | PERMALINK

"What GWB brought to the table was real-world experience and character."

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!

Posted by: jri at February 23, 2004 06:35 AM | PERMALINK

What GWB brought to the table was real-world experience and character.

If there was ever some question that Bush voters have a tenuous grasp on reality, you've completely answered it.

Posted by: Molly, NYC at February 23, 2004 06:36 AM | PERMALINK

He had exactly the same qualifications as Chauncey the Gardener.

Posted by: harvey schindler at February 23, 2004 06:39 AM | PERMALINK

I have two questions:
Why did the power brokers of the Republican Party need someone with money, name recognition and family connections to win the Republican nomination in 2000? I think the key factor was McCain's support for campaign finance reform. Take the money out of politics and the ruling elites can no longer buy and own the US government, and especially our Congressional delegations. Bush's supporters waged a dirty smear campaign against McCain during the Republican primaries. McCain is too independent for their taste (or was).
How did Bush win the election? He didn't. Nader caused Gore to lose a few states and that's all that was needed in a close election.

I have one partial answer: take the corporate money out of political campaigns and maybe we can get back a government that is not for sale.

Posted by: Diana O. at February 23, 2004 06:41 AM | PERMALINK

Sure, he's a Bush, but even so how did he manage to convince the vast majority of the Republican party apparatus that he should be their favored candidate?

The phrase "useful idiot" springs instantly to mind.

Posted by: SteveLG at February 23, 2004 06:43 AM | PERMALINK

Harvey just beat me to the point I was going to make -- Chauncey Gardiner.

I think that, like Chance the Gardner in the brillian Being There, Bush the Lesser has a perfect combination of a mediagenic personality (as long as the SCLM could be bamboozled into not looking too hard into his credentials) and a near-absence of any accomplishments.

Look at the news -- the Bush campaign has siad it intends to run ads about Kerry's record. Of course -- but as a one-term governor in a fairly ceremonial position, Bush had just about no record to criticize. But he sure wears a suit well, however empty it may be.

What's scary, of course, is that Being There was intended as satire, not a how-to manual.

Posted by: Gregory at February 23, 2004 06:51 AM | PERMALINK

Check out Norman Rogers taking a crack at the Charlie Krauthammer school of criticism-- Kevin Drum's own psychological problems are the root of his anti-Bush stance. He should look in the mirror (after which, presumably, he will support the preznit and post whatever is required to earn turkee).

Surely there is no rational basis for opposing the Iraqi Frolic and Detour and the bang up job this administration has done on the economy.

Posted by: hueyplong at February 23, 2004 06:54 AM | PERMALINK

George Bush, pasquinade.

Posted by: Harry Lime at February 23, 2004 06:57 AM | PERMALINK

I recall a profile of this Bush in Business Week long befoe he ran for president. Someone was pushing him forward as the bright shining possibility. I reckon Backseat and the other guys from the old days figured he was someone they could gussie up and put forward to advance their agenda. It worked.

Posted by: Davei at February 23, 2004 06:57 AM | PERMALINK

As my good freind once said, if he weren't the son of whom he's the son of, he would be mowing my lawn right now.

Posted by: Kermit at February 23, 2004 07:01 AM | PERMALINK

"What GWB brought to the table was real-world experience and character."

So... after Bush bankrupts the USA, he's going to sell it off and use the profits to buy some other country??

It's true that Bush's four years in the White House now give him all the experience anyone needs. But it's fun to remember just how inexperienced he was in 2000. I compared him at the time to my governor, Tony Knowles (now running for U.S. Senate in Alaska), who had been in office just as long. Except that he had a constitutionally stronger office, dealt with two international borders, and had served in elected office for years beforehand.

What I'm wondering now is why the Bush & Walker "dynasty" wasn't an issue with the elder George. Is it because GWB has little more to draw on than his family connections, which puts his family legacy out into the sunlight?

Posted by: Grumpy at February 23, 2004 07:03 AM | PERMALINK

Bush didn't "convince" anyone. The Republican establishment came to HIM.

And let's not throw Clark at Kevin. Clark has vast experience in military and nation-building affairs (as Eisenhower did). Clark "paid his dues". Bush has little experience in ANYthing except being put forward as a useful amiable front for the rich oil men whose exclusive bidding he does.

Posted by: dan at February 23, 2004 07:04 AM | PERMALINK

Good Lord, Norm. How deep in your ass did you have to reach to conclude that Bush has "real world experience and character"?

He has the real world experience of the Hilton sisters, and the character of a Nigerian Scam spammer.

Posted by: Jonathan Williams at February 23, 2004 07:05 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, and Norm, you might want to drop the amateur psychoanalysis crap. You're really not very good at it, and your own posts provide plenty of material, should someone wish to do the same to you.

You don't have to like what Kevin has to say, but at least try to be a little decent about it...

Posted by: Jonathan Williams at February 23, 2004 07:08 AM | PERMALINK

Would you feel better if W has spend a couple of additional terms screwing over the people of Texas? W now has 9 years of experience. I have not seen any improvement.

Posted by: tstreet at February 23, 2004 07:12 AM | PERMALINK

An empty vessel, or Trojans looking for a horse.

Posted by: Esquire at February 23, 2004 07:12 AM | PERMALINK

How did he do it? Easy. He's stupid and easily malleable. He's a perfect tool.

Posted by: Ivor the Engine Driver at February 23, 2004 07:14 AM | PERMALINK

I know it's a little late in the thread to bring this up, up Kevin's premise is all wet. Not because of George W. Bush, but because American's really don't vote for experience the way he suggests.

I'm not going to go and do the research myself, but I'd bet that in most Presidential elections, the man with the longest history in electoral politics lost. Gore was far more experienced than George W. Bush; Dole had been in the Senate forever; Dukakis was a lifelong pol, while daddy Bush had only a term in Congress and eight years as VP; Mondale was far more experienced than Reagan; and on and on.

We are a nation steeped in the myth of Cincinnatus. Indeed, if the comfort with George W. Bush among a large section of the electorate is any indication, we might well save a load of money and decide the Presidency by lottery.

Couldn't be worse than what we got now.

Posted by: jlw at February 23, 2004 07:16 AM | PERMALINK

Personal attacks on Kevin = hit a serious nerve.

Posted by: Librul at February 23, 2004 07:23 AM | PERMALINK

LOL, I was going to mention Paris Hilton too. She's the scion of a rich family, unremarkable except for her stupid hijinks. If she gets religion and learns the fine art of schmoozing reporters, who says she can't be the Republican candidate for president in 20 years?

Posted by: Librul at February 23, 2004 07:25 AM | PERMALINK

The obvious point with Clark was that he demonstrated a lack of political skills and experience. Eisenhower was a five star who ran the European front. He was an extremely skilled political person.

Posted by: alan aronson at February 23, 2004 07:34 AM | PERMALINK

Republican governors and special interest money

Posted by: annie at February 23, 2004 07:37 AM | PERMALINK

1) Because of Texas experience, GOP elite felt he could run as moderate (compassionate conservative) and attract minority votes. His experience in building the party in Texas contrasted well with what Wilson was doing in California.
2) An early head to head to poll saw him defeating Gore. The glories of name recognition.
3) Incredible fund raising. Guess do to old Bush family connections. The glories of honoring nepotism.

Posted by: vlmungo9 at February 23, 2004 07:39 AM | PERMALINK

I think we can say that Bush initially hired a few (emphasis on few) good people like Paul O'Neill - and then proceeded to run them off. Cheney tells everyone that O'Neill is the smartest man he knows and then totally ignores him.

So much for his ability with the "real-world".

Posted by: Jon at February 23, 2004 07:42 AM | PERMALINK

According to Kevin Phillips' excellent book the Bush clan and their cronies...the family motto is "Trust us we're bred for this!"

I recommend you read this book if anyone is looking for answers to these and other profound questions regarding the Bushes!

Posted by: Alagator at February 23, 2004 07:44 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, once again, the mirror image of how I and my friends sounded for most of the '90s. Self-discovery can be pretty uncomfortable, especially when it comes via seeing yourself reflected in your opponents. I'm over that now and just enjoying the ride.

How can anyone vote for this bible-thumping simpleton, who is just like those damned rich/popular/jock kids who I always hated, and who never listens to NPR, and who would not understand its subtle appeal if he did? = How can anyone vote for this smug, philandering, draft dodging, pot-smoking, MTV-underwear-discussing, two-faced slickster?

You could save all the words and just quote Bobdole in '96: "Where's the outrage?"

You'll say, "Yeah, but we're right, they're wrong." That's what *both* sides say.

Posted by: Recovering Clinton Hater at February 23, 2004 07:55 AM | PERMALINK

Hello? Kevin? Wakey wakey. You hate Bush because he is a Republican, and you are a partisan nitwit.

How about me? I'm a centrist nitwit and I didn't hate Bush until sometime in 2002. Why's that?

Posted by: Hamilton Lovecraft at February 23, 2004 07:56 AM | PERMALINK

You answer your own question, Kevin. Republicans are predisposed to believing in primogeniture. That's why they hated the estate tax, as well... no petty concept of merit or fairness should interfere with birthright.

Posted by: wagster at February 23, 2004 07:58 AM | PERMALINK

Everyone here has missed the point. I read an article in 2001 that explains this perfectly. During the election of 1992 the Republicans faced a daunting challenge. Iran Contra was looming large in the press. There were indictments facing numerous of the conspiritors and high level cabinet members were being set up to take the fall. Several were unwilling to do that and were threatening to spill the beans. What to do? If Bush Sr. pardons the conspirators, his 2nd administration is doomed to Lewinsky like inspection. The only solution is that he has to run a campaign that insures that he will LOSE the election. Then (right before Christmas) he pardons the conspirators. What can anyone do? The payoff? Well, George, if you do this the son of your choice will get the nomination in 2000!!

Posted by: Rick Silberman at February 23, 2004 08:02 AM | PERMALINK

who says [Paris Hilton] can't be the Republican candidate for president in 20 years?

She's definitely seen more of the world than Dubya. Did Dubya frequently appear in the Texas society pages back in his day? Maybe right before his National Guard "career"?

I still say that he became President because of a "Trading Places"-style stunt: Bar and Poppy Bush bet each other a buck that even their slacker playboy son could be President. Poppy bet against it. (Neil ended up with the life Dubya was headed towards, a life of crony backscratching and Asian hookers.)

Posted by: FlipYrWhig at February 23, 2004 08:02 AM | PERMALINK

Speaking of which, what was Howard Dean's impression of Dubya (and vice versa) back when they were going to the same governors' conferences? Have they commented about that?

Posted by: FlipYrWhig at February 23, 2004 08:06 AM | PERMALINK

So, Kevin, if John Edwards winss the Dem nomination, I trust you will ahve the same concerns about him.

Posted by: Wayne at February 23, 2004 08:07 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with Alagator. (Although I haven't read that book.) The two groups that now control the Rethug party, corporate interests and Christian fascists, know that there is no such thing as an intelligent regressive (what is commonly, but incorrectly, called a conservative). Therefore, they were just looking at someone they thought they could sell to a gullible public. Combined with that, Rethugs never got over the democratic process working, leading to Bush I getting booted out. So as Phillips writes, they were obsessed with restoring the Bush dynasty. Originally of course, it was Jeb that was supposed to be anointed as the successor. But when Jeb lost his try at Florida but Shrub won his try at Texas, the Rethugs had to settle for whom Shrub's mother called "the runt of the litter".

I am puzzled by Calpundit's puzzlement. Obviously, he doesn't understand that today's Republican Party is not a normal political party.

Posted by: Alexander at February 23, 2004 08:14 AM | PERMALINK

The irony is that if the Bush administration had been even remotely competent or "compassionate" they would be absolute shoe-ins for re-election. A sitting president in a pseudo-wartime setting should be practically unassailable. But we knew something was in the air when potential opponents began lining up around the block to get a shot at him. It must have taken a herculean effort to screw it up so badly and so completely and so quickly, but that does seem to be a Republican administrative talent. Want to elect a Democrat? Let them experience a fumbling Republican ideologue for a while. Expensive but effective...

Posted by: Jim in Austin at February 23, 2004 08:17 AM | PERMALINK

I've often wondered why they picked him, but I think it must have been for both dark and stupid reasons. Dark because he is a pliable puppet with an infamous last name, and stupid because a room full of somebodies thought the American people would vote for the dweeb, and that he would do the bidding of the somebodies while we watched our TiVos, XBoxes, and went shopping.

The smartest thing Bush could do to ensure his election is apologize for the Iraq invasion, the death of 550 troops, and for making permanent our status as the #1 debtor nation. Forgiveness, after all, is a major tenet of Christianity. But they really are stupid, and now they face the choice of energizing their base vs. pissing off our base while soldiers die, people lose their jobs, and states continue to barely stave off bankruptcy.

Fuck Bush--every one of them.

Posted by: a_retrogrouch at February 23, 2004 08:19 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, Grumpy, go over to Atrios'. Tony Knowles is guest blogging. Show some love.

Posted by: Coriolanus at February 23, 2004 08:23 AM | PERMALINK

It is pretty simple -- name recognition, selection by the reactionary cabal, Texas and its electoral college votes, and the Reagan effect of being very easy to manipulate.

Posted by: John M at February 23, 2004 08:24 AM | PERMALINK

I tried to scan the comments for the name I was looking for - Dan Quayle. W was pushed on the stage because Quayle had everything the Republians were looking for, but couldn't get airborne. W was in the right place at the right time.

Posted by: John Mac at February 23, 2004 08:25 AM | PERMALINK

I think the answer is that he was running against Al Gore. Any other candidate could have won by an overwhelming margin. lets face it, Al Gore lost that election. Please, this isn't geared to bring out the "George Bush stole the election!" crowd, you guys need to get over it. I didn't vote for Bush and am on the fence regarding November.

Unfortunately Kerry is very Al Gorish. Bush may have been fighting an uphill battle during the last election but had enough charisma to beat the very uncharismatic Al Gore. Now he is the incumbant residing over the country during a rebounding economy recovering from a recession that obviously started during the last Clinton/Gore term. Kerry will have a hard time convincing Americans that his Foriegn policy will be stronger. Sure, policy issues can be mentioned that are negative factors but overall the outlook for his existing presidency is positive. Team that with Kerry's charisma problem which is unfortunately a big factor for a lot of voters and you can understand why he will win again.

I don't agree with much of Bush's policy however I have to know that Kerry would have better policies and his voting record is unfortunately dismall. Believe it or not most Americans don't believe in the conspiracies that get passed about Bush. They didn't believe them about Clinton either. I can tell you that offering up conpiracies about Pres Bush with no proof will amount to nothing. You may wish him to be evil but that doesn't make him evil.

Kevin drove the point home. Bush rubs him the wrong way. I hear that from alot of people. Personality should not play a factor in deciding the president (and I don't believe it does in Kevins case) but the things that rub many the wrong way about Bush are appealing factors to many. In fact I would say they appeal to many more than "rub them the wrong way."

I'm sorry if the Bush Bashers don't like it but it is the truth. I'm not decided about November yet but if Kerry does more of his whining about being attacked by Karl Rove or campaigns with the slogan "Because I can beat Bush" I just may have to vote Republican.

Posted by: Lyvouch at February 23, 2004 08:27 AM | PERMALINK

Its all about the alignment of constituencies.

Bush became a bornagain Christian - a group of people clammering for legitimacy more than the Catholics did in 1960. This is a group with inelastic demand for Bush. He descends from the wealthy northeasterner line - and was a practicing member of the Korporate Kleptocratic Klass (neoKKK).

This is a perfect alignment for Republicans. Throw in the fact that he speaks spanish and his brother is Gov of Florida. Remember - Bush refused to accept that he lost Florida and "got snipity" with Al Gore we he proposed the opposite.

Finally he can't be as dumb as people say he is - he beat Ann Richards a gifted debater and campaigner - albeit in utlraconservative Texas.

I propose that if Puerto Rico decides to become an independent nation we only let them go on the condition that they take Texas with them. This would solve a lot of problems here in the United States. (Joke)

Posted by: tim kane at February 23, 2004 08:32 AM | PERMALINK

How Bush won:

Bush was an ideal candidate for running against the Clinton/Gore years. The thing is, he's seen as being non-threatening. Here's the choice that was presented to the public:

You have the career politican, coming from the most corrupt (ha) administration of all time, vs the honest born-again cowboy who couln't do any harm. And oh by the way, they both support the same ideals.

What exactly would you expect?

That's the way the story was framed from square one.

That's really where Bush is weakest. It's the matters of credibility and honesty. He promised to "restore honor to the White House", all he's done is bring shame and destruction.

Bush really can't win, barring some sort of Democratic meltdown. (And no, Kerry won't be that meltdown, as long as he keeps on the offensive)

Bush's only chance, in reality would be to try and explain that some of the problems he can't really do anything about. (Which is true). He can't do very much about jobs leaving, about wages going down. His hands are tied. That would try to make it about personality again, and put him in a positive light again. I doubt they'll do this however.

Kevin, they had this planned for YEARS. Bush is a perfect telegenic, completly harmless guy, at least in image. When Clinton was re-elected, they started on the offensive, with the endless investigations and the impeachment..they wanted to make an image. The perfect image to go up against their chosen one, Bush.

Posted by: karmakin at February 23, 2004 08:36 AM | PERMALINK
Replace 'political experience' with 'public service' in Kevin's original post, and Eisenhower and Clark fit the bill just as well as any of the others.

W, however, does not.

But what about community service? Court-imposed or not, it should count for something.

Posted by: peejay at February 23, 2004 08:42 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, Bush can win.

If Bin Laden is bagged in mid october everything else will be forgotten by everyone else and Bush cruises in to the November election.

If employment improves some it would also help. The big hangover comes after he wins and all the bills come due from all the deficit financing and low interest rates.

The election comes down to a choice - do you want America to be more like Mexico or more like Canada economically & socially. Ironic that a Texan will deliver America to a Mexican way of life. Next stop - Pottersville. For us all - which is okay if you happend to be Mr. Potter.

I think Dems make a big mistake taking Kerry over Edwards - Dems can't win a General election unless a southerner is heading the ticket, period. The only caveate is that in times of war you want someone who has tasted war. Otherwise Edwards might be the only chance.

Posted by: tim kane at February 23, 2004 08:45 AM | PERMALINK

Lyvouch, go over to and search the archives for Gore.

Gore made some mistakes, sure, but the press basically decided they didn't like him and smeared him up and down (the same thing they did to Dan Quayle and Howard Dean). Naomi Wolf, earth tone clothes, self-reinvention, blah blah blah. They still don't like him, and act as if the American public has always pooh-poohed him even though he won more numerical votes than Bush.

And of course Florida had its voter rolls scrubbed of many legitimate black voters prior to the election . . . which the media ignored for hanging chads. Oh those stupid Florida voters! See for more on that.

Fortunately I think that some in the media have realized they can't always get away with lies and half-truths, due to easier fact-checking and research via the Internet. And some of them have realized that however likeable Bush was to them on the campaign trail, it was a different story when he got into the White House.

Posted by: Librul at February 23, 2004 08:45 AM | PERMALINK

MONEY. He was raising it in truly stunning numbers.

That was it. He had that compassionate conservative shtick, which played better than McCain the Reformer with the GOP (let's face it, the last thing any party apparatus wants is someone jonesin' to change the way things work), he was raising bucketfuls of cash, the Religious Right loved the whole "born again" thing, which meant Bush didn't have to abase himself to the fanatical right....

What's not to like? Sure, he's stupid as hell, and mean, and not exactly a nice guy....but he seems to be able to act like a nice guy...and hell, isn't that what image consultants are for?

Posted by: Morat at February 23, 2004 08:46 AM | PERMALINK


What I very strongly suspect is that the-powers-that-be in the Republican Party who selected Bush behind closed doors as their favored candidate are themselves having the worst experience of buyer's remorse in their political lives.

There exist smart and experienced Republicans who CAN speak the English language and think through the occasional sticky problem. Don't you imagine that the Republican bigwigs now wish they had settled on one of them instead?

Posted by: frankly0 at February 23, 2004 08:51 AM | PERMALINK

The question is: How can he possibly do it again?

I see a headline:

Bush Fails to See Humor in World Crisis


Pres Dumps Cheney, Taps Giuliani for Straight Man Slot

Posted by: haze at February 23, 2004 08:58 AM | PERMALINK


I understand your arguments regarding Gore and press coverage. I voted for Gore in 2000. I would have to say if the election went on another week I might not have voted for him. I didn't agree with him distancing himself from Clinton. He presented himself like he was lecturing us and looking down his nose at us which killed him in the debates. I can go on and on but I ultimately voted for him. I can't help but think that what turned me off about him did not ultimately turn off a sufficient amount of voters to cause him to lose the election.

Second, get over it... HE LOST! Even in Florida! I am well aware of these allegations about black rolls and so forth but they are baseless. Come on, this article uses claims from the U.S. Civil Rights Commision as thier basis for the allegations. Show me some proof because this is nothing but an allegation being reported from a partisan group. I believe that some Dems were cheated at the polls but in just about all the cases it points back to ineptness exhibited by Democrats in Florida leading to the voting. I also think that the Republicans had legitimate arguments as to why thier voters were cheated or disenfranchised.

I also don't think either side gets more good or bad press. The Dems and Repubs cry foul at this but the reality is that most pay more attention to negative reporting more than positive. I would say Kerry and Edwards have gotten more favorable press than Bush lately but I also think Bush caused a lot of it. Gore was very dislikable so much to the point it was hard to distance that from his policies. I certainly think any other half respectable Democrat could have beaten Bush.

Posted by: Lyvouch at February 23, 2004 09:10 AM | PERMALINK

The Roman "myth" Owen mentions was the Sullan Dictatorship. Sulla was a Roman general who had retired to a farm. In 88 B.C. he was asked to become dictator of Rome. For eight years he attempted to straighten things out, and then announced that it was time for the Senate to resume governing, and returned to his farm.

Posted by: serial catowner at February 23, 2004 09:16 AM | PERMALINK

Throw in the fact that he speaks spanish . . .

. . . among people who don't actually speak it themselves. Folks who learned their Spanish from Mami y Papi aren't so easily conned on this point.

Posted by: Molly, NYC at February 23, 2004 09:17 AM | PERMALINK

Molly from NYC: You say,

"I realize that 'wingers often have trouble processing facts, evidence or information that supports opinions they've been told not to have, but pssst . . . Hillary isn't running for president!"

Who put the vinegar in YOUR coffee this morning?

"Winger"? I supported Bradley in '00. I am leaning Edwards this time. I'd have voted Republican if McCain had made it and Bradley had not. Never voted for a Bush in my life.

I happen to think Hillary IS running for president. 2008 probably. That's why I said, "1 term in the Senate". When it happens, will "we" say she is qualified or unqualified? I happen not to like her, on a personal level, which makes the qualifications issue moot in my case. I said I do not think she is, or ever will be, "fit" to be President -- by virtue of her temperament.

I care little about "qualifications" in the classic sense of one's resume or getting one's ticket punched here and there. Character counts; intelligence counts; style counts; ability to make decisions well counts; being a "statesperson" counts; having run complex organizations counts; a proven ability to surround oneself with extreme competence counts. Political ideology counts, but for me not as much as for many.

Look for someone else to label "winger". You missed on this one, rather badly. My liberal friends think I am a little too conservative. My conservative friends think I am kind of "soft". All of which is fine with me.

Posted by: Terry Ott at February 23, 2004 09:17 AM | PERMALINK


Your question does not go far enough. The question isn't Bush's political experience per-se. He has 6 years of that. But before that did he ever really have a job?

The answer is no. Bush never held a real job his whole life. Nothing he has ever done has involved him putting in a 9-5, working for a boss, or anything even rudimentarily close to that. His "work" at Harken or the Texas Rangers consisted of showing up to maybe half the board meetings, the same could be said of his governorship. He was a puppet even in the private sector.

Posted by: Senior Administration Official at February 23, 2004 09:25 AM | PERMALINK

Money, family connections, money, right-wing media monopoly, money, etc.

And one other thing. Karl Rove suckled at the teat of Lee Atwater. While it took brain cancer for Atwater to recognize how loathsome his actions were, even a visit from Jesus H. Christ himself wouldn't move Rove or Bush to contrition. It's only a stone's throw from "Willie Horton" to McCain's "illigitimate black child" to "Hanoi John Kerry" and that's what we're in for.

They have neither scruples nor shame, and all the money in the world. They are aligned with the most powerful interests in the nation and a compliant, cowed media let them slide. In politics, this combination is practically unbeatable. It's all the more amazing that Gore won the election anyway.

Posted by: R. Porrofatto at February 23, 2004 09:27 AM | PERMALINK

Finally he can't be as dumb as people say he is - he beat Ann Richards a gifted debater and campaigner - albeit in utlraconservative Texas.

I guess you've forgotten (or don't know about) Rove's under-the-radar smear campaign against Ann in heavily Baptist east Texas in which his operatives branded her as a godless lesbian. Never underestimate the power of this sort of dirty trick. McCain did, and that's why he lost South Carolina to aWol in the 2000 primary.

Posted by: Basharov at February 23, 2004 09:30 AM | PERMALINK

For what it's worth, I had this conversation with a Washington Insider back during the early part of the 2000 campaign:

Me: So, what's the deal with Bush? Why has the Republican Establishment settled so early and so strongly on this unremarkable guy?

Insider: They believe he can win in the general election.

Me: But John McCain could win in the general election... hell, I might even vote for John McCain. Is it because McCain is his own man, and Bush will do what he's told?

Insider: (long pause.) They believe Bush can win in the general election.

Posted by: Mope at February 23, 2004 09:33 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans can't nominate a candidate to run on their record, because most Americans are opposed to the Republican ideology. Like the Disney company, they have to market their product on name recognition and promises.

Gore lost a lot of votes when he acted like Lieberman. Young people are not going to vote for a candidate who wants to ban dancing. If we had any sensre the rest of us wouldn't either.

Posted by: serial catowner at February 23, 2004 09:36 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe the question Calpundit should be asking is: Why didn't the Rs pick someone who would appeal to more people than the narrow base who'd vote for the Pat Robertsons of the world? I'm a yellow-dog D, but even I thought Gore was stiff and a weak candidate carrying the baggage of Clinton's sexual shenanigans. I thought McCain was an intriguing alternative (yes, he's quite conservative, but more in the mold of the kind of Rs who used to be strong on the environment, jobs, etc.), and I was appalled at how he got slimed by the Bush/Rove machine in SC. It was clear then that the game wasn't about selecting the best candidate; it was about how ruthless the Texas machine really was. I mean, Cheney? Have you seen his numbers lately? He even scares the bejeebus out of most Rs...

Posted by: a_retrogrouch at February 23, 2004 09:45 AM | PERMALINK

The Florida voter purge happened. Anyone who says otherwise is lying to themselves. It's funny how many people OUTSIDE Florida decided "waht really happened in Florida".

Fact is, over 14,000 voters were purged. Even the Secretary of State's office admitted there were "issues".

Posted by: grubi at February 23, 2004 09:56 AM | PERMALINK

It's simple- Cheney and Rove needed a pliable front man for their agenda, somebody whose strings they could pull while they did the real dirty work behind the scenes. Bush had exactly the right persona, a sort of amiable dumbass from Texas who was capable of fooling most of the voters with his "compassionate conservative" line of bull.

Posted by: peter jung at February 23, 2004 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

It seems as though there are two questions here. Why was Bush selected by the RNC, and why did millions of Americans decide to vote for him?

I don't really know why the RNC selected Bush. With regard to the second question, I believe a poster hit the nail on the head earlier. Bush is exactly the President America deserves. Its not that people are genuinely stupid, it is that they are in many ways very childlike. As a nation, we want a person to tell us that all of the world's problems boil down to a simple Manichean point of view. We believe that wars can be fought with no civilian casualties. We believe in the myth of simultaneous tax cuts and deficit reduction. We are told that it is possible to eliminate all the possible threats to America's well being with some key deployments of the 82 Airborne Division. Any canidate that tries to win the White house is going to have to say some of these things.

Posted by: Roland at February 23, 2004 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I agree with you and your most temperate posters here. And I don't see any illogic at work in your support of either Clark or Edwards. Clark's experience in the U.S. Army counts for a lot. Edwards is clearly a gifted politician, and was a gifted plaintiff's attorney before that. Can't send him any money because my husband deplores plaintiff's attorneys as a class. But still, Edwards had a future, that much is clear.

As for W's electoral success in 2000? It is explained by name recognition and GOP eagerness to do anything to take the WH back. But there's another more dynastic element at work, which is W's intense desire (inculcated by mother Barbara?) to avenge his father's humiliating loss to Clinton in 1992--this coupled with his intense need to prove himself after, let's face it, an undistinguished career as a man. His lackluster academic record. Whatever his National Guard service was--still an open and compelling question. His business failures. Frankly, I think both 41 and 43 compare themselves rather unfavorably to the old man, Prescott.

Does anyone remember 43 (before he was 43)uttering, during the 2000 election a genuinely heartfelt: "You cannot know the secrets of my heart"? Or something like that. Bingo, I thought, when I heard him and saw him say this. Young George had obviously seen the just released ELIZABETH, the movie about Elizabeth I, daughter of the larger-than-life Henry VIII.

Here I am drawing no parallels between 41 and Henry the VIII. I am merely pointing to the dynastic aspects of 43's need to prove himself worthy after an ill-spent youth. In this, he was very like the Tudor princess and later queen who had much to prove, not to herself perhaps, but to Parliament and unruly Bishops, when she ascended the throne in 1558.

No, I am not comparing 43 to Elizabeth I, who was classically educated in addition to being just plain brilliant. I am suggesting, however, that W. had something to prove, to himself, in 2000. Winning back the WH helped him to prove it. He didn't have his grandfather's business acumen. He made not have served heroically during wartime, as his grandfather had in WWI and his father had in WWII. But he could be disciplined and focused in another kind of war. Political war. That he had no real plan after that, I guess, is now abundantly clear.

Re: spelling in some earlier posts. Even editors need editors. In my blogging haste, my spelling skills evaporated. I wrote "commander and chief." Of course, as everyone knows, it is "commander in chief."

Posted by: PaxR55 at February 23, 2004 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

Dan Quayle Syndrome - those in the outer stratosphere of mega upper class feel the need for a dumber 'everyman' to speak to the people and deflect attention. Unfortunately for them, they are so out of touch, that this is the best they can do......let them eat cake indeed!

Posted by: zeddex at February 23, 2004 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

think Jesse Ventura.

Maybe we do need more non-career politicians. But once these good gentlemen are gone, their service needs to continue on, recruiting others to the same cause.

Posted by: Occam's Cuisinart at February 23, 2004 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

What the rest of the world can't figure out is, why did Americans decide to change from a very successful Democrat administration to an untried Republican one, especially with so many questions unanswered about the guy - the AWOL question was there four years ago, but most Americans decided to ignore it. Why? Al Gore would have made a good president, a boring one, but hey, it beats what you have now.

Posted by: Michele at February 23, 2004 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

It was Cincinnatus, not Sulla, as this article explains...

Cincinnatus, Lucius Quinctius
Encyclop?dia Britannica Article

born 519?, BC

Roman statesman who gained fame for his selfless devotion to the republic in times of crisis and for giving up the reins of power when the crisis was over. Although he was a historical figure, his career has been much embellished by legend.

The core of the tradition holds that in 458 Cincinnatus was appointed dictator at Rome in order to rescue a consular army that was surrounded by the Aequi on Mount Algidus. At the time of his appointment he was working a small farm. He is said to have defeated the enemy in a single day and celebrated a triumph in Rome. Cincinnatus maintained his authority only long enough to bring Rome through the emergency. He then resigned and returned to his farm. Most scholars see no factual truth in the further tradition that Cincinnatus was given a second dictatorship in 439 to check the monarchical ambitions of Spurius Maelius. Once again he is supposed to have ceded his power after ending the crisis.

Posted by: Michele at February 23, 2004 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

"It is just getting more and more pathetic... I guarantee you that around 2011 (you know, about 3 years after GWB has left office), you'll STILL be blaming everything on Bush!"

Yup, if Bush steals the office again, we will be blaming Bush for generations. That's because will all be starving to death from the collapse of the State caused by his crushing debt and endless war.
GWBush, Al-Queda's President!

Posted by: Bush=Satan at February 23, 2004 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

The thief thinks of all others as thieves, and cannot understand the honest man, or why people would support him. Everyone is corrupt, so he must be dishonest, can't people see that?

But not everyone is a thief, or thinks like one.

The assumption is that GWB must have gotten by on his name, that he has no skills, no intellect, no redeeming qualities at all. And boy, hasn't that been loudly paraded by the pundits?

But maybe, just maybe - he's what he seems to be. You're so intent on looking into things for evidence of him cheating, that you don't consider that he might be honest. You expect him to be a consumate politican - but he's not, and doesn't pass himself off as one. He doesn't play the elitist card, and tells the country he knows better than the people what we need. He listens, he judges, and he makes hard decisions without waffling - then he sticks to them and doesn't weathervane to please the polls.

Heh. And it's great.

Your mileage, of course, may vary. Try to step back from the dislike, from the hatred, and consider this little thought experiment.

If Kerry was a Republican, with his current platform, would you be supporting him?

If Bush were a Democrat, with his current accomplishments in office - both negative and positive - would you be supporting him?

Or does the label make all the difference - and what actually IS - doesn't?


Posted by: Jlawson at February 23, 2004 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

If Bush is just what he seems to be, then he is a clueless, incompetent, whose accomplishments as President reflect his accomplishments as an individual ? bucked up by family (Party) connections and rewarded for failure (eight months of ignoring terrorism sure was a winning strategy wasn't it).

If Bush were a Democrat with his current platform I would run screaming from the party. Tax cuts for those in least need? Aieeeee. Invading arbitrary nations for the entertainment of the party elite? Aieeeee. Appointment of judges with more fealty to the invisible man in the sky than our system of jurisprudence? Aieeeee.

It's not about labels at all; it is about what is; it is about the facts. It is the fact that this man delights in terrorizing our nation for political gain. It is the fact that he has never done anything to benefit those outside of his elite collection of cronies. It is about the fact that he is the least competent and the most dishonest man to hold the office in my lifetime and possibly the history of our nation.

Posted by: Lori Thantos at February 23, 2004 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

To answer your two questions:
NO and NO.
Partisanship aside, I personally am, at best, underwhelmed by the thought of John Kerry as President - but that lead me to the second answer.
GW Bush's "accomplishments in office - both positive and negative"? AFAIK, the only positive accomplishment of Dubya's whole Administration was the war on the Taliban in Afghanistan (and even that was an "incomplete" success: otherwise why all the "Finding Osama in October" rumors?) - the rest of his "accomplishments" being, IMO, destructive economic irresponsibity for short-term political gain; a waste-of-time war in Iraq (with post-war planning incredibly bungled); domestic (and science) policy a near-complete pander to the religious fanatics of the "Christian Right" (see Kevin's post on THAT subject): an Adminstration which (as many other have pointed out) has subordinated virtually all of its actions to ideology and/or political expediency. Oh yes, and won office largely on the bullsh*t slogan of "restoring honor and dignity to the White House" - which concepts began and ended with "no sex scandals".
If Bush was a Democrat?
I would be ashamed of my party, and ashamed for my country.

Posted by: Jay C. at February 23, 2004 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

The answer, you liberal dunderhead, is that it wasn't his government experience that was appealing, it was his years of success in busin ...



Posted by: Brautigan at February 23, 2004 01:22 PM | PERMALINK

Would Bush have ever become TX governor if not for the personal grudge against Ann Richards for the "silver foot in his mouth" comment aimed at Poppy?

Just as Pat Buchanan's 1992 GOP convention speech helped Clinton win that year, Richards' speech from '88 led to the Dems' downfall in 2000.

Posted by: Grumpy at February 23, 2004 01:25 PM | PERMALINK

So Jay C., are you saying that because of the low polls, Rove has pushed up the capture of Bin Laden to March? I guess that would mean another war just prior to November, then.

Posted by: Michele at February 23, 2004 01:33 PM | PERMALINK

This place is great; Every time I start to worry that the Democrat might win this fall, I come here for reassurance that you're still clueless, and think Bush is an idiot who stole the election.

As long as you continue to think that, he's a shoe in.

Re. McCain. Why couldn't the GOP establishment go with him, instead of Bush?

1. Long record of being the Republican vote for so many Democratic "bipartisan" bills. You want your Presidential candidate to champion YOUR causes, not the other party's.

2. He couldn't have carried his home state in the general election. (Very important, as Gore can tell you.) Heck, he only won the primary in Arizona because of the next point:

2. His hostile takeover attempt. From the moment he decided to try to get the Republican nomination with Democratic crossover votes, he became political poison within the GOP. Even if he'd gotten the nomination that way, it would have been a pyrrhic victory, as the party would simply have given up on the White house in 2000, and concentrated on other offices.

Posted by: Brett Bellmore at February 23, 2004 01:46 PM | PERMALINK

For myself, I am not sure WHAT to think about OBL: after the (more-or-less) conclusion of the Afghan campaign, I felt sure that Osama and his dialysis machine were rusting away together in a bombed-out bunker somewhere in Tora Bora. Most of the "Bin Laden tapes" which have surfaced since 2001, don't, IMO, meet the smell test - and, even given that OBL might have a few good reasons to keep a low profile, I have read or heard little to make me believe he is still alive.
That said, I find the latest (?? since Jan. '04) round of news/rumor about an Osama manhunt in Pakistan to be just a tad shy on the credibility scale. And in any case, if I thought that the Adminstration DID have proof OBL was still alive, and was withholding it (or delaying any military action gainst him) for reasons of political timing - well, it would lower my already dismal opinion of Bush 43's Adminstration down to well below zero.
And yes, while I don't particularly credit the rumors, there was a lot of blog-chatter a few months ago about another military campaign - against Syria - being "in the works" - although, fortunately, rumor-land is where this meme has stayed.

Posted by: Jay C. at February 23, 2004 01:57 PM | PERMALINK

why did Americans decide to change from a very successful Democrat administration to an untried Republican one

Um, we didn't. The Supreme Court did.

Posted by: ColoZ at February 23, 2004 02:00 PM | PERMALINK

To go back to an allegation that the hostiles in Iraq are, primarily, "foreign fighters,"... Poppycock.

Having some personal experience in Iraq, during the present unpleasantness, as well as a large number of comrades still there, or recently returned, I repeat... poppycock.

And it is not, nor was it ever so many as were claimed, supporters of Hussein. The driving forces are nationalism (and I suspect the capture of Hussien to make that stronger, as he is not likely to return and those who were keeping quiet no longer have the same fears) and vendetta.

People in Iraq, who have lost loved ones, or who feel they, or their family, have been shamed are trying to get revenge, and the cycle is going to be long, perhaps only ended when we leave.

For a more detailed take on this see the recent Army Times story.


Posted by: Terry Karney at February 23, 2004 02:07 PM | PERMALINK

If no one has already said this let me be the first:

Money. Family money,oil money, white shoe investment money, gads and gads of money that they were wiliing to invest so they could get even greater returns

Posted by: DrK at February 23, 2004 02:16 PM | PERMALINK

He got it because of his name and linking to the a former president. Regardless of how unpopular Bush Sr may have been most former presidents have a favorable view of our electorate. If his name was Joe Bush the screw up son of Senior it may have been different. It kind of reminds you of that Eddie Murphy movie where he has the same name as congressman that died and gets elected as a thrid party candidate by using his name. Also the Repubs in power knew that he would do as they say just like when he on the board at Caterair the subsidiary of the Carlyle Group

Posted by: Erik at February 23, 2004 02:18 PM | PERMALINK

And it is not, nor was it ever so many as were claimed, supporters of Hussein. The driving forces are nationalism (and I suspect the capture of Hussien to make that stronger, as he is not likely to return and those who were keeping quiet no longer have the same fears) and vendetta.

People in Iraq, who have lost loved ones, or who feel they, or their family, have been shamed are trying to get revenge, and the cycle is going to be long, perhaps only ended when we leave.

A very cogent observation. The problems in Fallujah began last April when US troops gunned down a number of civilians (I forget the exact number, 13 or 18) who were protesting to try to get the US command post out of the local school. I realized at the time that that was the start of something bad that would have repercussions long into the future.

The invading troops just had no cultural preparation for dealing with a tribal society. Every foot soldier going into Iraq should have been made to watch Lawrence of Arabia all the way through (I know it's a long movie, but it captures the intricacies of dealing with tribal societies, either as allies or enemies, very well). When you are dealing with a society that believes in an eye for an eye and a hand for a hand and a life for a life, it doesn't pay to indiscriminately gun people down because they don't speak English. Such people have long memories.

Of course the invading troops had no other preparation for post-invasion ops either. This came out in the Army's own evaluation report.

The prevailing view of the planners was that after Saddam was gone, everybody else would just go back to work the next day and the "liberating" forces would start working on their permanent in-country bases that would be theirs by right of conquest and because the Iraqis would be so grateful that they would want the US troops never to leave.

This is what happens when people who have no experience of war plan and execute wars.

Posted by: Robert at February 23, 2004 02:47 PM | PERMALINK

How about this?

Bush was suspended from the TANG for conduct unbecoming an officer (documents in a Houston area landfill). This conduct left him anatomically altered such that he is predisposed to being the sock puppet of big business.

That uncomfortable smile during public events? Its due to Karl Rove's watch being icy on the hiney of our beloved Sock Puppet in Chief (SPOTUS).

Posted by: rooser04 at February 23, 2004 02:51 PM | PERMALINK

I hate to point out an error in the vaunted calpundit's post but Bush was not a 'one term governor' he won his first Texas Governor's election in 1995 and then won re-election in 1998. Check

Posted by: phil massey at February 23, 2004 03:01 PM | PERMALINK

As mentioned above, Dan Quayle as George H.W. Bush's running mate was a puzzle, until George W. Bush arrived.

Posted by: henry at February 23, 2004 03:19 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Kevin it's a fucking mystery.

I would like my president to be a man of accomplishment, personal or professional...and Clark qualifies. He's an extremely capable man, who chose to use his considerably talents in the service of his country.

What the fuck has "W" done? Can't talk, won't read! paraphrase Al Franken, He has proven that being president does not require one to be articulate, knowledgeable or intellectually curious. I HATE THAT IDIOT BASTARD!

Posted by: Jcren at February 23, 2004 03:28 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure anyone here gets Bush and why Republican pros were so hot for him. It's not about oil, its about the Christian right. Clinton changed American politics, and Repubs needed someone who could at least plausibly come across as a "compassionate conservative." Their almost impossible task was to find someone who could do that and hold onto the loyalty of the Christian right. There simply is not a well-known Republican in the country who could bridge that gap as well as Bush. He has based his whole career on cementing that bond. Try and imagine someone like Powell, Pataki, Weld, or Giuliani running for prez; the Christian right simply cannot accept them.

One more thing. Bush obviously kept the party's corporate funders very close. Other Repub presidential contenders like Chuck Hagel have shown far too much independence to be trusted by this wing of the party.

Privately, I'm sure there are many Repubs who are bothered by the fact that Bush does not have the life story, experience or personal capacity of someone like McCain. But when they looked at their choices by the harsh light of politics, he was the best they had.

Or, as Johnny Bravo put it so succinctly in Comment #2, he fit the suit.

Posted by: Brian R at February 23, 2004 03:34 PM | PERMALINK

Two words: Kevin Phillips

Posted by: chloe at February 23, 2004 04:10 PM | PERMALINK

W was chosen by the "powers" of the Republican party because when he won the govervor's race in Texas he drew a much larger percentage of "soccer moms" and minorities than any of the other Republicans that were getting elected at the time. I remember someone on NPR talking about it way back then (Cokie Roberts?). They said that there was a surprizing amount of buzz around this other Bush son and people were already talking seriously about grooming him for a presidential run. It was a side note in a larger conversation. I bet there is a transcript somewhere...

So basically, a bunch of people that wanted to get back into power picked him as the best pony to ride there. Then they took all the strategies they had learned from Clinton's team and turned them against the Democrats. The rest is history.

Posted by: GQ at February 23, 2004 05:02 PM | PERMALINK


Posted by: dane at February 23, 2004 06:27 PM | PERMALINK

My mother said: "People like Bush because he's dumb like them." ie, he's appealing to a sector of the public who is threatened by intellectuals, professionals, and all those who make them feel small.

Bring back the professionals and intellectuals.

btw chloe what's up with "Kevin Phillips"? He does one of the best jobs of exposing right-wing damage.

Posted by: Neil at February 23, 2004 06:45 PM | PERMALINK

He's a puppet.

A finger puppet.

The long one.

Posted by: Charles at February 23, 2004 07:35 PM | PERMALINK

"Far from refuting Mr. Drum's hypothesis, the case of General Clark is further evidence that it's extremely difficult for a political novice to win a presidential nomination."

Exactly. It seems that only one person in this whole thread realized this.

And I would add that Clark had many years of command experience in the military--something that can sometimes translate into running the executive branch of the government (though there would be some awkwardness in the transition).

Posted by: Bolo at February 23, 2004 08:32 PM | PERMALINK

If "lack of experience" didn't work as a campaign issue the first time, why would any intelligent person think it would work the second time?

Posted by: Robobubba at February 23, 2004 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

it was the bones deal. that is what produced arbusto, harken, and the texas rangers. without these bones-arranged deals, which went unexamined, awol would have been just another trustfundy remittance man.

one must also consider the harvard endowment. for reasons that have to do with the secret state, the harvard endowment financed the bushists. herbert winokur et alia.

there is no other explanation for the press becoming better fellatrices than monica when the bushists are concerned.

is it because the sulzburgers are still on the company payroll? is it because the grahams are still on the company payroll?

that is my conclusion. the press in the usa is all a division of the intell services.

anyone want to argue that point? somersby won't go there, but how else can you explain the distortions that he reports?

for a year or two, i suppose stupidity would work as an explanation. but after a decade? no. there is something else governing the press.

and i say this because the distortions are remorseless and ubiquitous. that could not be in a "free" market.

Posted by: albert champion at February 24, 2004 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

Ahhh I always enjoy the old Liberals standby....we can't beat Republicans on the issues so we call them DUMB.

But wait, If Republicans are sooo DUMB....why do they keep defeating us? Hmmmm

Clinton was supposedly sooo smart, yet he lost the House, lost the Senate, Lost a dozen Governorships, lost hundreds of state house/senate positions and got impeached...but he was the smart one.

Al Gore was SMART and BUSH is DUMB....yet Gore lost. Another smart Liberal and they will be out of power for 100 years.

BIG QUESTION: Why do us smart people keep losing to dumb people.....????

Posted by: Keiser Sousa at February 24, 2004 03:58 AM | PERMALINK

JLawson: But maybe, just maybe - he's what he seems to be.

Yes, J. I think George W. Bush is what he seems to be - "born on third base, thinks he hit a triple".

Posted by: Jesurgislac at February 24, 2004 04:25 AM | PERMALINK

With the specialized exception of Eisenhower, every single other president has had at least 14 years between first winning political office and becoming president.

Actually, it's just the opposite:

With only one exception since the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, no one has been elected president who took more than 14 years to climb from his first major elective office to election as either president or vice president.

George W. Bush took six years. Bill Clinton, 14. George H.W. Bush, 14 (to the vice presidency). Ronald Reagan, 14. Jimmy Carter, six. Richard Nixon, six (to vice president). John Kennedy, 14. Dwight Eisenhower, zero. Harry Truman, 10 (to vice president). Franklin Roosevelt, four. Herbert Hoover, zero. Calvin Coolidge, four. Warren Harding, six. Woodrow Wilson, two. William Howard Taft, zero. Theodore Roosevelt, two (to vice president). The one exception: Lyndon Johnson?s 23 years from his first House victory to the vice presidency.

Wait a minute: zero? Right. The rule is a maximum, not a minimum. Generals and other famous personages can go straight to the top. But if a politician first runs for some other major office, the 14-year clock starts ticking.

Posted by: James Joyner at February 24, 2004 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

Stop right there.
I've lived in Texas the last 30 years and dispute the notion that W as a great gov'ner. At best, he was average.
He was mostly invisible and best remembered for gutting many of the states enviornmental laws (sound familiar?) and generally doing the bidding of insurance and energy interests.
His claims to have improved Texas education has subsequently beeen debunked.
BTW, Texas has a notoriously weak executive branch. Two words: Dolf Brisco

Posted by: Rich at February 25, 2004 12:40 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, and Keiser, could it be there's more dumb than smarter people?
Or, should I say: MORE dumb THAN smarter PeOpLe?


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