August 28th, 2008

Shorter Democrat campaign: “Vote for me because I’m not George Bush, and he is”

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.]

9 Responses to “Shorter Democrat campaign: “Vote for me because I’m not George Bush, and he is””

  1. Terrye Says:

    Bush’s personal favorability numbers are not bad, they are in the 50′s. In other words a lot of people like Bush, they are just not happy with how they perceive things to be going. But I am not sure that will change no matter who the president is.

  2. FredHjr Says:

    Political conventions are mainly pep rally events. The things that are said at conventions by the speakers and by the nominee are intended as red meat for the mob.

    Obama is doing a poor job of convincing intelligent independents that he is not a Far Left candidate. There is a reason for this: he cannot say things that significantly stray from his Left base. The few times he has done so he has stirred up a hornets’ nest. He has to answer to them when he changes his positions on policy and the issues. And whenever he has to do that, he tips his hand that he is playing two sides, thus rendering his credibility even more suspect than it already is.

  3. John Spragge Says:

    You beg the question in your first paragraph, when you use the phrase “grown to be” in relation to George W. Bush’s unpopularity. As you yourself point out, unpopularity does not just “grow”. It comes about through failure, and most Americans cannot ignore the failures of George Bush and his policies.

    Right now, you have a government steadily spiralling into completely unsustainable levels of debt. In finance, industry, and many other areas, your country has begun to sell off its future. George Bush has done nothing to stem this tide.

    Right now, you have a medical system that consumes 11% of your GDP to produce measurably worse results in life expectancy and infant mortality than countries such as Canada. And Canada only spends 9% of our GDP on health care, an efficiency that gives us an edge on attracting industrial jobs. The Bush Administration has offered nothing in the way of an effective or a creative solution: they continue to cling to a state-enforced provider monopoly handed down as the last vestige of the craft guilds of medieval Europe. Your medical system has neither the humanity and universal coverage of Canada’s socialized system, nor the efficiency of a true free enterprise system.

    Right now, you have an economy made brittle by inequality greater than any since the 1920s.

    Right now. you depend for energy on a dwindling resource.

    Right now, even as you import capital and export control of many of your industries, you have an immigration policy so xenophobic that Microsoft has recently opened a software development studio in Canada, largely so they could get qualified immigrant workers.

    George Bush did not address any of your problems in a coherent or considered or effective manner. Most of the time, he didn’t even pretend to. No heartfelt apology or learning of lessons after Katrina. No apology after his Iraq war went bad. Not even a pretence at addressing the problems of health insurance or the growing divide in American society. Not even a nod to the need to do something about the growing debt. Instead, George Bush’s record consists of Hurricane Katrina, Terry Schiavo, a big tax cut in wartime, triggering a bigger deficit, and a blundering attempt to “fix” social security, one of the few programs your government runs that actually works and has a positive effect on people’s lives.

    By a huge number of measures, George Bush’s presidency failed. The natural results of repeated failure and mismanagement include (for a politician in a democratic society) electoral defeat. The polls do not measure the personal attitude to George Bush, as much as a growing realization that he and his party have done a bad job.

  4. Bryan C Says:

    I don’t know if this is a winning message or not. There certainly are people who think Bush is pure evil and the Worst President Ever, but they weren’t planning to vote for McCain (or any other Republican) anyway. I think there are a lot more people who publicly profess to hate Bush just to avoid the topic, while privately believing he’s really not that bad. I mean, Iraq is doing fairly well now, and most of the people filling the malls and restaurants do not seriously believe that we’re in the midst of another Great Depression, despite what the speeches say.

    People don’t like to be told what they must believe in order to be accepted, and they don’t like having their support taken for granted. If the Democrats keep it up long enough without offering anything more concrete, those folks will start to resent being preached at. Especially if McCain starts re-emphasizing his maverick credentials and his many disagreements with rank-and-file Republicans.

  5. I R A Darth Aggie Says:

    If McCain wants to win in November, he needs to campaign against Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

    As for what John Spragge wrote, I have a question for him. How, exactly, will putting Obama in change any of that, except that other countries will suddenly “like us” again?

    Oh, and I’ll take exception to this a big tax cut in wartime, triggering a bigger deficit. Bull. Did you know that tax revenues when up after the cut? You want to know what triggered the bigger deficit? more spending.

    You either don’t know that, or you forgot to mention it because it doesn’t fit your narrative.

  6. Teri Pittman Says:

    Yeah, Congress has an even lower approval rating than Bush, so we get two Congressmen running ;) McCain is going to have to join Obama and Pelosi at the hip and point out how destructive their policies are to this country.

  7. Rose Says:

    Sarah Palin! WOW!

  8. Dan Says:

    John Spragge demonstrates there is a shortage of gray matter north of the border, but that we already knew. Canadas medical system is so “successful” that they send heart attack patients across the border for care. The Supreme Court of Quebec ruled that the government has to allow private practice to start in the Province. He can keep that kind of success. I think the jury is still out on whether “W” has had a sucessful presidency. Won’t know for 10-20 years. That won’t satisfy the newshounds who want instant analysis, but history moves slowly.

  9. John Spragge Says:

    OK, first of all, I never said electing Barack Obama would make the United States “liked”, nor in fact did I say that you ought to worry about your international reputation.

    As for your contention that spending caused the deficit: according to the Heritage Foundation, tax revenues have actually gone down under the Bush Administration. Spending in excess of revenues causes deficits, so if you want to reduce taxes, you have to cut spending, which means an honest debate over costs, and especially the cost of the war in Iraq.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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