Election 2004: Can the Dems have it both ways?
The Bush Administration faces the prospect of being the victim of its own success in the war on terror. Witness the almost-yawning response of so many Americans to the second anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. As they say: “Time heals all wounds.”
Since September 11, 2001, we have been spared (knock on wood) more attacks against Americans on American soil. Our armed forces decimated the Taliban in Afghanistan and a new Afghan nation is slowly emerging. Two-thirds of al Qaeda’s leadership have been killed or captured. The brutal regime of Saddam Hussein has been toppled and a new Iraq is emerging from the ashes of a bloody 24-year dictatorship.
Unfinished business? Sure. Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein must be found and brought to justice. The Israelis have a duty to eliminate Yasser Arafat who not only refuses to clamp down on Hamas and other terrorist groups but also is most likely encouraging the homicide bombers.
Politically, the Democrats have painted themselves into the corner of hoping for the failure of Administration anti-terrorism policy, in general, and for a failure with regard to Iraq and Afghanistan, in particular. The demise of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein will be a major blow to the current field of Democrat presidential candidates and the panting-to-be-drafted, Al Gore.
Currently, the daily level of violence in all of Iraq is below the daily violence level in Denver or any other major U.S. city. If you doubt that statement, turn on your nightly TV news. When Coalition forces smash the terrorists operating in Iraq and get the oil flowing to pay for our wartime operations and for the restoration of Iraq’s infrastructure, the U.S. economy will be the Democrats’ only remaining issue.
A further complication for the Democrats is their attempt to have it both ways. They claim the Administration isn’t doing enough to combat terrorism and, at the same time, complain the Patriot Act and other anti-terrorism measures go too far. Sad to say but some on the far Left are hoping for another terrorist attack prior to the presidential election.
Apparently, Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction – the ones Hans (Inspector Clouseau) Blix could not find during a three-year search -- were moved to Central Lebanon in January of 2003. Even so, the failed U.N. weapons inspector is plotting an “October Surprise” denunciation of the Bush Administration. You read it here first.
But success in the war on terror could be a two-edged sword. By November 2004, voters could decide our security threat is so low our domestic affairs can be entrusted, once again, to the Democrats. A classic case of: “Let no good deed go unpunished.”
Fortunately for the Bushies, the recession that began toward the end of the Clinton era ended 14 months ago and the Bush tax cuts are beginning to have a positive effect. Moreover, the business cycle is likely to continue to be in an upward swing by November 2004.
But jobs lost to overseas manufacturing sites will remain a serious problem which will continue until and unless our public education system begins to turn out graduates with the knowledge and skills appropriate to the needs of the 21st Century.
Democrat political strategist, James Carville, will try to reprise his success with Bill Clinton in 1992 by trying to say, “It’s the economy stupid.” But that is not why President George H.W. Bush lost his reelection campaign.
President Bush 41 lost because Ross Perot captured 19.7 million votes. Without Perot, approximately 13.1 million of those votes would have gone to Bush 41 and the nation would have been spared eight years of scandals, inattention to military and security matters and an impeachment.
Too much anti-terror success too soon could play into the hands of the Democrats. Too little success too late could help the Democrats as well. To this observer, why anyone would want to be President remains a mystery.
William Hamilton, a nationally syndicated columnist and featured commentator for USA Today, is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy and The Panama Conspiracy – novels about terrorist attacks on Colorado’s water supply and on the Panama Canal, respectively.
©2003. William Hamilton