I’m Overdue for a Right-Wing Rant, So Here Goes: Electoral Advice Fails When It Falls Into “Bush Eats Babies” Syndrome, However Subtly

Today’s victim of that syndrome – Jay Cost of Real Clear Politics:

Here’s a thought experiment to mull. Take 100 undecided voters and expose them to an hour of clips of George W. Bush talking. How many of them will lean Obama at the end of the hour? More than half, I’m guessing, which is why McCain needs this issue, and George W. Bush, off the front pages as soon as possible. McCain’s trajectory to victory has always relied upon Bush falling out of public view. Up until this crisis, Bush seemed happy to oblige the Republican nominee. But this has put Bush front-and-center, which inherently helps Barack Obama.

This logic is wrong, and Mr. Cost has fallen into a trap. The President has done an excellent job hiding himself during this campaign, yielding almost everything to Senator McCain. He is no President Clinton, not by far. There’s not much more the President can do for his party.

Mr. Cost admits all this and then argues the best thing is for the issue to go away, and by extension, for the President, um, to never do his job at all.

It’s just common “knowledge,” after all, that Bush is an idiot. People who are drug dealers and child rapists know they’re inherently better than the President, and aren’t afraid to say so loudly. I’m not kidding about this – anyone who’s been online for more than 5 minutes can’t fail to notice just what kind of loser trash thinks itself capable of commenting on anything, let alone the Presidency.

The mistake has been failing to defend the President, and buying into the mainstream conviction that everything he’s done is awful and every single thing wrong with the world is his fault. As long as Senator McCain believes that – and he does to a degree, he calls himself a “maverick” after all – he’ll never be President. He’ll always be buying into a vision of the world that is inherently biased against the use of power in any way, and into a cheap populism where reform is about blaming the rich and oil for everything. That vision of the world allows people whose whole life is Internet forums to call him “senile” and question getting beat to hell for 5 years just to be able to say you didn’t betray your country.

Real leadership involves telling the public there are things they don’t understand and grossly oversimplify. Real leadership means taking action against scum like terrorists, not reaping the rewards of the War on Terror and then saying you’re more moral than everyone else fighting it because you’re not fighting.

I’m Ashok Karra, and I approve this message, and very much approve of President Bush.

Addendum: bailout links – Marginal Revolution; Martin Wolf; Bruce Bartlett. I think there’s enough in these links to argue any position you choose.

3 Comments

  1. Hey there, sorry I’ve been absent for so long. Life takes over sometimes and burnout has kept me away from the intellectual, but I’m gradually easing back into the swing of things :P.

    I always feel like the devil’s advocate when trying to make left-wing arguments, but since I seem to be the only verbal liberal here, ill give arguing a try!

    “It’s just common “knowledge,” after all, that Bush is an idiot. People who are drug dealers and child rapists know they’re inherently better than the President, and aren’t afraid to say so loudly. ”

    It always strikes me as odd that child rapists are held as somehow worse than murderers. Indeed that we {society} would consider a paedophile who rapes or abuses a child once, to be more evil than say….. A kidnapper, who keeps a child in solitary confinement for a month until her ransom, strikes me as a twisted logic. The trauma to the child would be greater in the second instance. Yet while we would consider the kidnapper to be ruthless, the child-abuser is the lowest of the low. Unforgivable (in the eyes of many) and disgusting blemish on society.

    I digress hugely there… but what I’m trying to say is that if you consider the Iraq war to be unjust then the thousands of civilian deaths on Iraqi soil rest on the head of the American commander in chief who was , after all, it’s chief instigator. If you accept this then a child-rapist or drug dealer is a moral saint by comparison. Just a thought….

    “The mistake has been failing to defend the President, and buying into the mainstream conviction that everything he’s done is awful and every single thing wrong with the world is his fault.”

    If you accept, as you do, that the “mainstream conviction” is that George Bush is evil, wouldn’t it be political suicide to support him??? After all, do you really think people could be persuaded that he’s really a saviour? In time for the election?

    “Real leadership involves telling the public there are things they don’t understand and grossly oversimplify.” Who wants to be told that they are ignorant? Isn’t it that kind of attitude that leads to the policy-free character debates that seem to be dominating this election? I heard a vox-pop (street survey) in an American city, in which 4 middle aged women were asked what they thought of Sarah Palim, to which they answered “I think she is a hard working woman with family values and I like her”. They were then asked “what policies do you like of hers”, to which they all replied that they didn’t know of any of her policies, but they were sure she agreed with them. Being the working mother that she is.

    Just some thoughts :P. The blog is looking great!

  2. I will grant that Bush has done a very good job of hiding out for this election. The downside to that was his slow response on this financial mess.

    I’d not characterize Bush as an idiot, but he has shown a complete lack of intellectual curiosity. He didn’t know things, and didn’t care enough to dig a little for answers. To Lance, on the rapist vs. murderer issue, I’d point out that it’s a level of outrage issue, rather than actual damage. A murder leaves a body and possibly a bereaved family. A rape leaves a live victim who can continue to suffer where we can see them, possibly with the bonus of an emotional family. Throw in your kidnapping example, and that one (if we get the kid back safely) just ends happy in the public eye. The kid might be badly damaged, but we’ve stopped caring by then.

    Moving along, the problem with trying to defend the President is that he has consistently shown a fairly strong dislike of (and consequent disrespect for) the Constitution. If he simply managed badly, or even started the Iraq War with no real evidence, or WAS an idiot, I could see defending him. Unfortunately, he has combined that with a major assault on science, abuses of power, and an incredibly secretive administration that looks like it’s trying to strip away our civil rights. Lance makes, I think, the appropriate point here; that President Bush is currently considered bad by the general public, and thus trying to do anything other than run from him at this point would likely just be suicide.

    All that being said, I think I should point out that Bush seems to be actually turning things around on a number of fronts (but especially foreign policy) in the last year. Which leads me to the War on Terror point (which is a name that has always bothered me). We need to take out groups like Al Qaeda, yes. But we need to do it in an intelligent fashion. Invading Afghanistan: good. Invading Iraq: vaguely incomprehensible. We need to invest in building strong alliances, rather than having a go-it-alone mindset. We need to do a “hearts and minds” campaign, as Petraeus has done in Iraq. People don’t become terrorists for the cash bonuses, but because their lives suck, and someone who has twisted a Holy Book (really, it could be any, but we’ll use the Koran for this instance) tells them it’s all the West’s fault, but mostly America’s. We need to start using a law-enforcement approach to dealing with terrorists. One reason suicide-bombing is so popular is that it makes you a martyr, and people carry signs with your picture around. These same people swiftly forget about the guy in a blaze-orange jumpsuit being frog-marched through a courtroom.

    Finally, to Lance on the topic of Sarah Palin: She is the single biggest reason I have not to vote for McCain. For McCain to make his campaign be “EXPERIENCE” and then pick the least experienced person available is perplexing to me. Also, her policies scare me. Especially things like combining “No Abortions” with “Abstinence Only Sex-Ed,” which is a great formula to create a lot of teen mothers who will mostly never go anywhere with their lives.

    I seem to have gone on for a bit, so I’ll go away now.

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