Friday, August 13 2004
KERRY IS NOT THE FAVORITE:
As Mickey Kaus pointed out yesterday the conventional wisdom of the Washington punditry appears to be coalescing around the idea that "this is now John Kerry's contest to lose."

ABC's The Note stepped onto the John Kerry bandwagon with a laundry list of why Bush is going to lose. National Journal's Charlie Cook chimed in:

President Bush must have a change in the dynamics and the fundamentals of this race if he is to win a second term. The sluggishly recovering economy and renewed violence in Iraq don't seem likely to positively affect this race, but something needs to happen.

The University of Virginia's Center for Politics Larry Sabato shook up quite a few Republicans with his recent speech to the Business Council of Alabama where, more or less, he suggested President Bush is finished.

The Bush campaign knows it is in deep trouble.... He really will need a miracle to win, and the last miracle was for Harry S. Truman.

While I don't want this to simply be a rehash of my comments a couple of weeks ago, I still don't understand all of this Kerry bullishness. Clearly, President Bush is not a lock to win in November, but the prospects for his reelection are considerably better than the current conventional wisdom.

To start, I think it is unwise to make such definitive statements about where this race is until we get at least a week past the GOP convention and the anniversary of September 11.

Even from the standpoint of the national poll numbers, I don't know where all the optimism for Kerry is coming from. Simply put, I don't find his 2-4 point lead in the post-convention head-to-head and three-way polls all that impressive. He should be ahead by more - and the fact that he isn't suggests bad news for his ultimate chance of winning.

I don't know what kind of bounce President Bush is going to get from his convention and the 9/11 anniversary. Perhaps, like Kerry, the President may get little or no bounce at all. But it appears all the prognosticators writing Bush off this past week seem to be totally ignoring the possibility that the President could get a real and significant bounce from these two events. It doesn't seem that far-fetched that Bush could move out to 2-5 point lead after all the dust settles in late September.

As I've said before, I think the biggest mistake many people seem to be making is misapplying post-WWII polling and electoral history to the current political situation. It is this type of backward-looking analysis that failed to anticipate the possibility of the unprecedented GOP victory in 2002.

This is the first presidential election post-9/11 and it is not an insignificant fact that we are very much involved in a war. That reality is constantly being underestimated in trying to make sense of all the disparate polling information, and I think Sabato, Cook, Halperin and the rest aren't giving it enough due in their analyses.

Our lead op-ed on Wednesday was the NY Times' Nicholas Kristoff writing persuasively about the potential reality of a 10-kiloton nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan killing some 500,000 people. We have over 150,000 troops overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan battling terrorists and insurgents. Economically we're dealing in a post-financial bubble, oil at $45 per barrel (and rising), and we're saddled with all the additional inefficiencies associated with the constant vigilance and increased security associated with defending against a possible terrorist attack that could come at any time, any where.

Is it any wonder why the polls pick up angst and nervousness among the public? The mistake here is interpreting that angst and nervousness as a repudiation of President Bush and his administration. Maybe it is, but it is not inconceivable that by mid-late September when the public if forced to focus on the real choice between the leadership of George W. Bush and John F. Kerry, this race may appear to be quite different.

What perplexes me most about all the negativism over Bush's chances is the failure to explain - even absent a decent bounce for Bush in the national polls in the next 4-6 weeks - exactly how John Kerry is going to get to 270 electoral votes. Again, don't get me wrong: I'm not suggesting that Kerry can't get to 270 or beyond, just that given the current position the President is in, I think Bush has an easier route to 270 than Kerry.

From an electoral college standpoint, the race is somewhat easy to analyze because most states are going to follow the Bush-Gore 2000 results. Because of reapportionment, this year if all states stayed the same Bush's total would rise to 278 from 271 and Kerry's number would fall to 260 from Al Gore's total of 267. (Late clarification: Officially Gore received 266 electoral votes, because of one abstention form the District if Columbia.) So the question for the Democrats is how does Kerry get to 270?

Let's stipulate up front that if Kerry wins wins either Florida or Ohio Bush is more than likely finished. But if we leave aside Florida and Ohio for a second and assume they stay in the Bush column, suddenly Kerry's path to 270 becomes very difficult.

Realistically, Kerry would have to sweep the trio of New Hampshire, Nevada and West Virginia - which would be the political equivalent of drawing to an inside straight. Not impossible, but pretty unlikely.

New Hampshire is by far the most likely Kerry pickup and, for the sake of argument, we'll give that to the Dems. So with NH's 4 electoral votes Kerry gets to 264. WV and NV have 5 electoral votes each, but the problem for Kerry is 269 is not going to get it done because the House will split the 269-269 tie in Bush's favor.

So in reality he will have to win all three states. (Theoretically he could carry WV and NV, lose NH, and get to 270, however everyone agrees that NH is his best chance for a pickup so its hard to imagine a scenario where he carries NV and WV, but not NH.)

But West Virginia is the real issue here. Winning NH is easy for Kerry - if not probable - and winning NV is very doable, but it would seem impossible for Kerry to win West Virginia while at the same time losing Ohio. Coal, Guns, God and Country aren't going to be working for John Kerry in West Virginia.

Kerry supporters might ask, "well aren't there other states our man can win to get us over 270?" The problem for the Dems is, what are they? Again, assuming FL and OH are off the table for now, Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Louisiana, Colorado and Arizona are not exactly high value targets. It's not that Kerry can't win one of these states, it's just that if Bush does win FL and OH the chances of Kerry winning any of these states is less than 5%. It just isn't going to happen.

Which brings us to what the election really is going to boil down to, at least today, Florida and Ohio. Given the electoral math, one would have to assume that the pundits predicting defeat for President Bush are calculating he will lose at least one of these states. The problem with this analysis is it just doesn't make a whole lot of sense to suggest that Bush will "need a miracle" to carry both Florida and Ohio.

Maybe people are putting a lot of stock in the Florida polls that show Kerry ahead. I don't. In my estimation Bush will have an easier time winning Florida than Ohio. Don't forget all the big talk from Terry McAuliffe who declared that "job number one" was to send the President's brother packing in 2002. Jeb Bush went on to win by 13% and the GOP swept the state from top to bottom.

This year, there won't be any boost in the Jewish vote from Lieberman, African-Americans don't seem particularly excited about John Kerry, Florida's a big pro-military state, and George W. Bush will still handily win the Cuban-American vote - especially if Mel Martinez is the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate.

So, if the Democrats' optimism comes down to a couple of Florida state polls taken in mid-summer, I think they're making a big mistake. Let's see where these same polls are October 1, and if the FL polls are still showing the same type of Kerry lead at that time, then I would agree that the Bush reelection will be in serious trouble.

Bush doesn't need a miracle in Ohio, either. Even today in the period after Kerry's convention, the polls in Ohio are split. With Gallup's just released poll showing Bush ahead nationally by 2-3 points and his job approval above the supposed magic 50% level at 51, I'm perplexed why the Democrats are so confident the Kerry/Edwards ticket is going to carry a state that typically is two-four points more Republican than the national vote.

So I'll reiterate what I said a couple of weeks ago:

Let's wait and see how things look after the conventions and the anniversary of September 11. It's quite possible all this midsummer optimism about a Kerry victory might look very different in mid-October.

J. McIntyre 9:53 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Thursday, August 12 2004
THE BANDWAGON & 2008:
Here's some good news for President Bush: the LA Times reports that Arnold Schwarzenegger has changed his mind and "may" campaign for Bush outside of California. If he does, the local and national publicity Arnold will generate for Bush will literally blot out the sun - and that includes anything Kerry and Edwards do in the days leading up to the RNC.

On the other coast, Jennifer Steinhauer has a piece in today's NY Times looking at Rudy Giuliani's contribution to the Bush campaign and his upcoming speech at the convention. The most interesting part of the article focuses on Giuliani's future political ambitions which - in addition to his being rumored as a possible replacement to Dick Cheney this year - includes a possible run at President in 2008.

Giuliani has been all over the country doing favors for the GOP in the last three years. As Republican consultant Kieran Mahoney says in the Times article:

"It is not always evident when you are going to make a withdrawal from the favor bank of politics, but it is always obvious when you are making a deposit."

Rudy's account is bulging. It sounds crazy, but we could get a chance to see the Giuliani-Clinton match-up that was so eagerly anticipated in 2000 - except this time it could be for all the marbles.

Lastly, I've been a bit surprised by the effort John McCain has put in on President Bush's behalf on the campaign trail recently. After all, supposedly the two men aren't that close, and McCain has repeatedly been a thorn in Bush's side during his first term.

One thing McCain has never been accused of is being camera shy, and maybe that is what's behind this blitz. Or maybe he truly feels Bush is the right man for the job and America can't afford to have John Kerry in the White House.

Or......maybe McCain is himself thinking ahead to 2008. He doesn't have a realistic chance of winning the White House as an Independent. But by campaigning so hard for Bush he might, like Giuliani, be able to win his way back into the good graces of - or at least become tolerable to- the conservative wing of the party and put himself in a position to win the GOP nomination in 2008.

THE ALAN KEYES PROJECT - PART TWO: Congratulations to Alan Keyes. He made big headlines for the second day in a row- but he had to sing "Over the Rainbow" to do it.

Meanwhile, Jonah Goldberg frets over Keyes candidacy and Mike Murphy doesn't mince words responding to critics of his recent piece deriding the choice of Keyes:

"I thought the Keyes weakness is painfully obvious, but here goes: The job of a political candidate is to attract people to a party's political philosophy and bring victory to the party on Election Day. In two U.S. Senate races and two presidential campaigns, Alan Keyes has done the exact opposite: shown a great ability to stampede voters away from his candidacy like a herd of panicking animals fleeing a huge volcanic eruption. Even Keyes' cable TV chat show, with its unforgettably Orwellian title, Alan Keyes Is Making Sense was abruptly cancelled for low ratings. When voters listen to a successful candidate they get a strong feeling that this person can do the job and make life better. When voters listen to Alan Keyes, they get the perception, "wow, this guy is stone cold nuts" and they run home to hide their children. We Republicans are the free market party, so look to Keyes's prior history in elections and trust the market."

It probably doesn't help the cause when fellow Republicans - but especially popular former Republican Governors from Illinois - decide to go on record saying Keyes makes them "uncomfortable."

So what exactly is the strategy here? Everyone - including Keyes - knows he's not going to win. One reader emailed with the suggestion that Keyes was brought in because the election cycle in this race is now terribly short and the Illinois GOP needed a "big gun" with serious name recognition to try and make the race competitive quickly. But it ain't competitive, nor is it going to be.

I'd submit the more likely strategy is that the Illinois Republican party (possibly with the backing of national party) didn't want a "big gun" to make the race competitive so much as they wanted a "hit man" who would take Obama out to the rhetorical woodshed and rough him up a bit. Alan Keyes fits that bill to a tee. His job isn't to win more votes than Obama, it's to take as much shine off of Obama's rising star as possible in the next 11 weeks. - T. Bevan 11:25 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Wednesday, August 11 2004
NEWS & NOTES:
First, I want to take a minute and plug our new advertiser, Boca Java. They're currently running a cool election season promotion with three new coffees (including John's Java and Bush's Brew) as well as a bunch of accessories. Perhaps most importantly, a portion of all the proceeds go to the USO to support our troops. Boca Java has set a target of raising $100,000 for the USO and we're proud to be a part of helping them achieve this goal. Please take a visit today.

Now onto the news. In Colorado, Pete Coors easily beat Bob Schaffer for the Republican Senate nomination. He'll square off against Democrat Ken Salazar for the seat. Should be a good battle.

In Georgia, Denise Majette made history by becoming the first woman and the first African-American to win a Senate nomination in Georgia. She will be an underdog in the general against Republican Johnny Isakson.

President Bush tapped Porter Goss to be the new DCI. Kerry and the Dems are reacting cautiously to the nomination, trying to suggest Bush's picking a loyal Republican represents the further politicization of intelligence. But, at least so far, the Dems don't seem to be willing to threaten a knock-down, drag-out confirmation battle for fear of being beaten over the head again for obstructing national security like they were in 2002 on Homeland Security.

Lastly, checking the blogosphere I see Kevin Drum finally managed to squeeze out a post on the "Christmas in Cambodia" story. After summarizing the particulars of the story Drum declares:

Conclusions? Beats me. Kerry has mentioned this story several times, so it's not a slip of the tongue. And it's plausible on its surface. Contrariwise, the evidence against him is pretty thin: not much more than the fact that no one else has verified it — and keep in mind that the Swift Vets guys are not exactly disinterested witnesses in this matter. What's more, since there is exactly zero in the way of documentary evidence one way or the other, it seems unlikely that this little teapot-sized tempest will ever be conclusively resolved. Which, I suppose, suits Kerry's detractors just fine.

Is this the same Kevin Drum who devoted weeks upon weeks to covering the Bush National Guard story in excruciating - even nauseating - detail? The same guy who was willing to ignore all pieces of exculpatory evidence (including an honorable discharge and corroborating witness testimony) to pursue the Bush was AWOL conspiracy/cover-up?

I've never met Kevin but we've exchanged a few emails and I think quite well of him. But it seems to me Kevin is moving the goalposts here - not by a few feet but almost entirely off the field.

If John Kerry, who unlike President Bush has made his military service record the fundamental rationale for his candidacy (indeed, every time he's ever run for public office in the last 30 years), is lying about whether he was sent into Cambodia then it's a fairly serious matter and a real blow to his credibility.

Given how much time he spent on the Bush National Guard story, Kevin seems to have checked his intellectual honesty at the door by dismissing the "Christmas in Cambodia" episode as nothing more than a "teapot-sized tempest."

EMAIL: Thanks for all your emails of late. Seems many of you disagree with me about Alan Keyes. Just to clarify, my beef with Keyes is less about his ideology than it is with his status as a carpetbagger, and the truly embarrassing fact that in a state the size of Illinois - a place with such a great Republican heritage - the party couldn't find a single person worth putting forward.

Also, The Power of TRUTH post from last week seems to have struck a nerve. I guess I'm not the only one disappointed the GOP doesn't do a better job of selling the values of the party to African-Americans.

Here's one email that sums up much of the frustration I heard:

"Your most recent column...hit a personal nail of mine on the head. I am a registered Republican and although my views tend to be more liberal than the standard party orthodoxy these days, I am frequently disgusted by the shrill rhetoric spewed by many major figures in today's Democratic Party. I am particularly incensed in the way that the Republican Party has virtually written off black America.

The Republican Party is the Party of Lincoln. We created the first civil rights movement: the Civil War; the Emancipation Proclamation; the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments; the Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and 1871. The first blacks to serve in the House of Representatives (Joseph Rainey) and the Senate (Hiram Revels) were Republicans. In 1884 - 120 years before Barack Obama's legitimately star-making performance - John Lynch was the first black to give the keynote speech at a national convention: the Republican convention. In 1901, Booker T. Washington was the first black to receive a formal dinner invitation from the President of the United States: Republican Theodore Roosevelt. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s father, Mike King, voted for Republican Dwight Eisenhower for president twice. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed by 62% of House Democrats, but 78% of House Republicans. Behind Minority Leader Everett Dirksen, the disparity was even more pronounced in the Senate: 66% of Senate Democrats voted against the bill, whereas 80% of Senate Republicans voted for it. Perhaps most tellingly for me, Jackie Robinson, a man who unfortunately may have been more familiar with racism than anyone else in his era due to his heroic trailblazing role, was a prominent and vocal member of the Republican Party.

For over 100 years, the Democratic Party was the party of slavery, secession and segregation. And led by people like Senator Robert Byrd, who filibustered for over 24 hours against the 1964 Civil Rights Act, they were proud of it. Yet today, a Republican president with perhaps the most ethnically diverse cabinet in history is going to lose the black vote nationally by more than 8 to 1. To the same party that keeps a dangerous phony like Robert Byrd in the Senate. There is something seriously, seriously wrong with this situation. You are absolutely correct that Republicans must start reaching out to black America: campaigning in predominantly black neighborhoods, in the churches, before civil rights groups. Maintaining involvement in years when no elective office is at stake. Those first few years will be rough. There will be tough questions. There will be accusations. There will be slanders based on 40 years of lies and disinformation from the Democratic Party.

But as you said, truth is a powerful weapon. The truth is that the Democratic Party has taken the black vote for granted for 40 years. They mouth platitudes, play on fears and stereotypes, and continue to push failed social agendas that have gutted inner cities, destroyed black families and robbed many black children of hope. In 2000, George W. Bush correctly identified the "soft prejudice of low expectations" as an obstacle to the black community. His 2004 speech to the Urban League was just as powerful. I fervently hope that the Republican Party uses these planks to build a platform to reach out to black America that gives them a choice in their future. A Republican Party that gives blacks a real choice not only is better for the Republican Party, more importantly, it is better for black Americans - and all Americans."

Well said - and well worth remembering. - T. Bevan 10:25 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Tuesday, August 10 2004
BUSH RESPONDS: As noted below, last week President Bush challenged John Kerry to answer whether he would have voted in favor of using force against Saddam even had he known at the time that WMD did not exist in Iraq.

Yesterday Kerry declared - somewhat surprisingly and to the chagrin of Michael Moore & Co, no doubt - that "yes" he would have still voted in favor of authorization.

Today President Bush responded by saying:

"Now, almost two years after he voted for the war in Iraq, and almost 220 days after switching positions to declare himself the anti-war candidate, my opponent has found a new nuance. He now agrees it was the right decision to go into Iraq.

"After months of questioning my motives, and even my credibility, Senator Kerry now agrees with me that even though we have not found the stockpiles of weapons we all believed were there, knowing everything we know today, he would have voted to go into Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power. I want to thank Senator Kerry for clearing that up."

Three words: low, hanging, fruit. I bet Kerry wishes now he hadn't taken the bait.- T. Bevan 3:25 pm

THE ALAN KEYES PROJECT: What to say? The Illinois Republican Party richly deserves the scorn that's being heaped upon them for choosing Alan Keyes to run for U.S. Senate. The selection process was like a really bad reality tv show that you couldn't turn off. The race itself isn't going to be much better.

It didn't have to be this way. Republicans missed a golden opportunity to dump the baggage of the last few years and put forward a new, fresh face. Someone who could benefit from the tremendous amount of exposure that comes with a Senate race and someone who could run a credible campaign in an environment where expectations are virtually nonexistent. To use the famous sports analogy, they could have chosen to draft a promising rookie and start rebuilding the franchise.

Instead, the party put forward a carbetbagging political retread in a choice many view as a cynical racial maneuver in addition to offering a candidate that may be even less electable than a political no-name. Mike Murphy is right, the choice of Keyes is "likely to set the already tattered Illinois Republican party back at least another five years."

In addition to the embarrassing fact that the GOP couldn't find (or chose not to field) a reasonable candidate from their own ranks in Illinois, in Keyes they've selected someone who isn't particularly well-suited to the state ideologically.

Illinois now a consistently Democratic-trending state - thanks in part to the continued incompetence of Republicans but also to the Democrats' ability (led by Bill Clinton) to make deep inroads over the last few years in the ever-expanding suburbs. A firebrand like Alan Keyes isn't going to win back the votes of these people, he's going to scare the pants off them.

Yesterday Keyes provided a good example of what I'm talking about:

Up at dawn for a whirlwind round of broadcast interviews, the conservative former diplomat started his first full day of campaigning as the GOP candidate by saying Obama, a state senator from Chicago, had violated the principle that all men are created equal by voting against a bill that would have outlawed a form of late-term abortion

Keyes said legalizing abortion deprives the unborn of their equal rights.

"I would still be picking cotton if the country's moral principles had not been shaped by the Declaration of Independence," Keyes said. He said Obama "has broken and rejected those principles-- he has taken the slaveholder's position."

Put aside your own personal feelings about abortion for a moment and slip into the mindset of a moderate or independent voter. Is this language going to persuade you to vote for Alan Keyes?

Morally, Keyes makes a strong argument for the right of the unborn. Tactically, his use of language is self defeating. A smart politician would frame Keyes "outside the mainstream", which is exactly what Barack Obama did yesterday.

Think about this for a minute: Obama, a man whose position is that you should legally be able to kill a baby up until the moment its head starts poking out of the womb, is able to cast his opponent as the one who is "outside of the mainstream." It's preposterous.

But Obama is able to get away with portraying himself as moderate because Alan Keyes is so ridiculously over the top. Keyes uses a blow torch when a scalpel will do. The question Keyes should pose to Obama is a simple one: How can you reconcile the view that killing a baby 5 minutes before it exits the womb is a "woman's choice" but 5 minutes after is "murder?"

No drama, no theatrics, no distracting rhetoric. Just a simple question that highlights a stark choice and points out the glaring moral and legal inconsistencies of Obama's position.

A THING OF THE PAST: As usual, The Belmont Club hits the nail on the head with regard to the War on Terror:

The geographical scope of the struggle is staggering: pursuit across the Arabian peninsula, North Africa, Southwest Asia, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe and North America. The instruments of struggle are equally various. Defensive security, diplomatic pressure, covert operations, bilateral training, special operations and conventional combat. An old world is being torn down and a new one -- for better or worse -- is being created "in a fit of absentmindedness". The failure by the Left to articulate an alternative vision of a post-September 11 world except in the negative has banished what should have been the most momentous public policy debate of the last 50 years into the outer dark. By declaring discussion of the transformation of the world illegitimate and then only belatedly presenting a Presidential candidate whose countervision consists of a "secret" but unstated plan, liberals have effectively left matters in the hands of President Bush. It is a staggeringly reactionary performance and a fundamentally unhealthy one. Because the one certain thing is that the antebellum world, the universe of September 10, can never be restored. The Clinton era, like the green light at the end of Daisy's dock, has been borne into the past.

Meanwhile, John Kerry's position on Iraq gets curiouser and curiouser. Now he's saying he would still have voted to authorize the use of force had he known at the time that WMD did not exist.

It's another step closer to Bush, one which Kerry wants to use to blur the central distinction between the two men: as President Kerry would not have put boots on the ground in Iraq under any circumstances. Period.

It's also probably worth noting that Kerry is now setting a timetable for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. The AP story says "Kerry's aim would be to pull out a large number of the 138,000 U.S. troops in Iraq in the first six months of his administration." I'm sure terrorists everywhere are marking their calendars.

We know a large contingent of troops will have to remain in Iraq for some time to come. We also have no assurances from France, Germany or anyone else that allied forces will replace U.S. troops to ensure the safety and stability of Iraq, only the wishful word of a man running to be president.

"MISSION ACCOMPLISHED": General Tommy Franks says it was his idea. Hmm. You mean it wasn't that dastardly, bungling Karl Rove exploiting the war for political purposes? Nope. Just a President doing a favor for the guy commanding the troops. - T. Bevan 8:25 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

Monday, August 9 2004
IF IT'S NOT CLOSE THEY CAN'T CHEAT:
We've put up two excerpts from Hugh Hewitt's excellent new book, If It's Not Close They Can't Cheat. Fair warning: the book makes no pretense to be non-partisan in terms of the Republican-Democratic debate in the country.

While parts of the book may be infuriating to Democrats, it is excellent political reading for individuals on both sides of the aisle. The first excerpt we posted, The United States is, Really and Truly, in a War, covers the in-your-face political argument Hewitt makes against the modern day Democratic Party which essential boils down to the assertion that the Democratic Party of 2004 can no longer be taken seriously to defend the security of the United States.

The second excerpt, Parties Matter A Lot, deals with the importance of political parties in affecting real life policy changes. Hewitt is brutally frank when he writes that:

There is no point being involved in politics unless you are an active Republican or Democrat. If you are an independent or a minor party candidate, you have no say in things.

The book stresses the importance of the average person becoming actively involved in the political process whether it is by giving money, having house-parties for candidates, writing letters to the editor or calling in on talk radio.

He points out that politics requires simple messages that can be easily conveyed to the broad public and reveals the lack of sophistication among the "intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals" who arrogantly look down on this type of political discourse.

Recall that in the months after 9/11, some of President Bush's critics mocked him for his repeated condemnations of "the evildoers" and "the evil ones."

But what Bush was doing then, and has successfully continued to do, was to assure that every segment of the American population could understand what the war was about. The shocking pictures of the collapse of the World Trade Center are certainly burned in the brains of most Americans, but Bush had to go far beyond these pictures. He had to explain the breadth and depth of the enemy, and he had to completely deligitimize and ostracize Al Qaeda and its supporters.

The brilliant repetition of the world evildoers might have amused Bush' critics, but it cemented into place the American public's understanding not only of the terrorists, but also of President Bush's understanding of the terrorists.

Bush communicated through stark language and repetition that he was not going to indulge any softheartednedness about the attackers, that there could be no excuse for them, and that no quarter would be given.

The message was sent and the message was received, loud and clear.

It is this "simple" message that drives the elites on the left and their counterparts across the Atlantic to lampoon President Bush as a moronic cowboy the same way they mocked Reagan a quarter a century ago.

Hewitt also spells out for Republicans strategists sound advice on dealing with three issues that he suggests have real potential to hurt GOP candidates; abortion, guns and the environment.

On abortion:

There is a majority opinion that abortion is a very wrong, but necessary freedom in the early months of a pregnancy. There is a majority opinion that abortion after even three months is a profound moral failing and that it is reprehensible late in pregnancy. The political dynamic of the country does not welcome a debate over those positions. Pro-lifers who wish and pray for courageous judges who will stand with legislative discretion are well and fully advised to work quietly -- quietly -- for the election of politicians who stand for the conservative opinion.

On guns:

Guns aren't going to go away. Ever. No Republican should ever think about pursuing a gun control agenda on the party.

But the gun absolutists have to realize the prohibition on individuals owning machine guns and high-powered automatic weapons makes sense to a large majority of Americans. So if the GOP agrees with this consensus, the gun absolutists should sit down and shut up.

On the environment:

As a political issue it works for the Democrats. There's not much sense complaining about this and bringing up Teddy Roosevelt, the GOP hero who started the national park system. The apparatus of the Left when it comes to environmental propaganda is vast and powerful. The GOP does what it can to counter the nonsense and the scare-mongering of the Left, and to point out the horrible failures of collectivist environmentalism, but the press is arrayed against the Republicans on this issue and there is not much hope of cracking the the united front of media and hard Left environmental activism.

He labels these three the Bermuda Triangle of issues for GOP candidates and suggests Republicans would be wise to press hard on all of the other issues where the playing field is considerably more favorable to their side.

After national security and taxes, Hewitt points out four issues that, "if approached carefully with discipline and skill, can reap huge benefits for Republicans."

Immigration Reform:

Policy on illegal immigrants is the most difficult issue in American politics on which to communicate without giving offense or sparking outrage, but the GOP has to master this skill or forfeit the majority it currently enjoys. The demographic realities of America compel serious political activists grasp this fact and learn this issue while adopting President Bush's tone. There is no alternative.

Judges:

This issue is a winner for the GOP because the Democrats have played a radical and outrageous hand and adopted an extremist agenda that, while satisfactory to its elites and elites in the media, deeply offends most fair minded Americans who hear of it.

Gay Marriage:

The vast majority of Americans understand and accept that the ranks of their fellow citizens include millions of gays and lesbians, and that these citizens are and should be equal in every respect to all other citizens....But a healthy majority of Americans believe that marriage is an institution divine in origin, an institution that the state regulates closely and the state should not extend to same-sex couples.

God:

People of faith in the Democratic Party have to understand that their party has declared war on the public expression of their traditional faiths. The issue of the defense of religious freedom is one that strengthens the GOP the more it is on display. The majority position in America is that people of faith should be respected and should never be discriminated against because of their faith. The Democrats have abandoned that tradition because of abortion rights absolutism on the part of its most powerful special interests.

Hewitt suggests that these four issues present huge opportunities for the GOP to move millions of voters into the Republicans Party.

For anyone interested in American politics, If It's Not Close They Can't Cheat is a must read. Though there is no question about Hewitt's partisan leanings, William Kristol of The Weekly Standard is right when he declares that "Hugh Hewitt is the nicest partisan I know." And while Democrats will certainly disagree with many, if not most, of the book's assertions, in many ways it is a more important book for Democrats than for Republicans. J. McIntyre 8:16 am Link | Email | Send to a Friend

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Matthew Yglesias Wonkette

Archives - 2004
8/2-8/8 | 7/26-8/1 | 7/19-7/25 | 7/12-18 | 7/5-11 | 6/28-7/4 | 6/21-6/27 | 6/14-20 | 6/7-13 | 5/31-6/6 | 5/24-30 | 5/17-23 | 5/10-16 | 5/3-5/9 | 4/26-5/2 | 4/19-25 | 4/12-18 | 4/5-11 | 3/29-4/4 | 3/22-28 | 3/15-21 | 3/8-14 | 3/1-7 | 2/23-27 | 2/16-22 | 2/9-15 | 2/2-2/8 | 1/26-2/1 | 1/19-25 | 1/12-18 | 1/5-11 | 12/29/03-1/4/04

Archives - 2003
12/22-28 | 12/15-21 | 12/8-14 | 12/1-7 | 11/24-11/30 | 11/17-11/23 | 11/10-11/16 | 11/3-11/9 | 10/27-11/2 | 10/20-26 | 10/13-19 | 10/6-10/12 | 9/29-10/5 | 9/22-28 | 9/15-9/21 | 9/8-9/14 | 9/1-9/7 | 8/25-8/31 | 8/17-8/24 | 8/11-8/16 | 8/4-8/10 | 7/28-8/3 | 7/21-7/27 | 7/14-7/20 | 7/7-7/13 | 6/30-7/6 | 6/23-6/29 | 6/16-6/22 | 6/9-6/15 | 6/2-6/8 | 5/26-6/1 | 5/19-5/25 | 5/12-5/18 | 5/5-5/11 | 4/28-5/4 | 4/21-4/27 | 4/14-4/20 | 4/7-4/13 | 3/31-4/6 | 3/24 - 3/30 | 3/10 - 3/17 | 3/3-3/9 | 2/24-3/2 | 2/17-2/23 |
2/10-2/16 | 2/3- 2/9 | 1/27 - 2/2 | 1/20 -1/26 | 1/13-1/19 | 1/6-1/12 | 12/31/02-1/5/03

Archives - 2002
12/23-12/29 | 12/16-12/22 | 12/9-12/15 | 12/2-12/8 | 11/25-12/1 | 11/18-11/24 | 11/11-11/17 | 11/4-11/10 | 10/28-11/3 | 10/21-10/27 | 10/14 -10/20 | 10/7-10/13 | 9/30-10/6 | 9/23 -9/29 | 9/16-9/22