If you wanted to condense the Democrats’ campaign into a simple sentence, this would be it: “Vote for me because I’m not George Bush, and he is.” And, as campaign slogans go, it’s not half bad. After all, when a two-term President is as unpopular as Bush has grown to be, the mantra of “change” makes sense to a lot of people. Whatever Obama may really mean by “change,” on a certain level most people understand it to be ABB: “Anything But Bush.”
Although George Bush’s approval ratings are in the cellar, the general phenomenon of voters desiring change after a two-term President is hardly unusual. In fact, it’s somewhat standard, at least from mid-twentieth century on, and has been overcome only twice in that time, by the unusually charismatic Presidents Roosevelt and Reagan (the former also had the “advantage” of holding office in times of great crisis through which he successfully steered the nation, although he—like Reagan—had his many enemies and detractors).
But all the other two-term Presidents since WWII have been followed by a presidency from the other party (for the purpose of this exercise, I’m counting JFK/LBJ as a two-term Presidency, and Nixon/Ford likewise). Although the mantra for change for its own sake has seldom been stated as nakedly as during the Obama campaign, it was implicit in these victories that resulted in a turnover of power from one party to the other.
The fact that John McCain and George Bush used to be seen as rivals, and almost enemies, has been conveniently forgotten by the Democrats for the sake of this campaign. And really, it makes a certain amount of sense—and not just strategically speaking—because the undeniable fact is that McCain is more simpatico than Obama to the policies of the Bush administration.
If McCain does win, considering Bush’s present unpopularity, it will be a testament to what a poor and inexperienced candidate many voters (even Democrats) perceive Obama to be. Of course, if Obama loses, other Democrats will try to spin this as evidence of America’s unremitting racism.
[ADDENDUM: I never thought I'd write these words, but Dick Morris and I are joined at the hip (ugh!) on this one.]