Is Bush Rebounding?
In a new CBS poll, Bush has bounced up to 40% approval from the previous low of 35%. And in a special election this week, held in very conservative Orange County, where Democrats traditionally run poorly, the Democrat only managed to garner 28% of the vote in loss to the Republican who won with 45%. A third party challenge by the antiimmigrant founder of the Minutemen Project, managed to get 25% of the vote. In a recent off-year election, Democrats only managed to win two governorships they already had, in NJ and Virginia. What's going on?
Bush is definately weakened by Iraq, yet a lowering of fuel prices and some good economic news has put back some support. Conservative voters are still a powerful voting block. All the bad news of Iraq has failed to shake much of their support. But Democrats are still largely disorganized and not able to take advantage of any Bush disarray over Iraq over anger over high fuel prices.
Democrats have a confused message over Iraq with voters. Voters are unhappy with Iraq, but some Democrats who call for troops to withdrawal now frighten some voters as not being able to follow through on a foreign policy where the word of America remains constant, even if a situation such as Iraq is a clear mistake. And a Democrat who takes a more hawkish position such as Joe Lieberman is being used by the Bush Administration in a phony attempt to appear bipartisan by allowing false rumors that he may replace Donald Rumsfeld as Defense Secretary soon.
For all of Bush's problems, Democrats need to offer a consistent and trustworthy foreign policy that can be counted on like in days of FDR and Kennedy. Today Democrats seem too willing to give up on foreign policy hotspots, even when they are a clear mistake, rather than make policy corrections to the mistakes to fix the problem. Iraq is a terrible mistake. And even if miscalculations or even outright falsehoods and deceptions got us there, the MidEast would become too unstable if American troops would leave Iraq, and the government would quickly fall to a militia or to some insurgent forces. Kurds in the North may want to form their own state of Kurdistan, and could even involve Turkey in problems as Kurds in Turkey have been involved in recent incidents as well.
Democrats lose out with voters on foreign policy, national security and terrorism issues. And on economic issues which should be their strongest area, they have yet to define a consistent message. Republicans should be in terrible position, but the disarray among Democrats allows them to continue to take advantage and win elections.
You can't tell many Democrats this. They don't want to hear it. But they need to clear up their message and offer a constructive alternative to the Republicans. If Democrats want to win some elections by 2006, then they'll clear up their mesage and offer voters a constructive alternative to failed Republican proposals. If Democrats want to continue losing ground, they'll continue to offer a weak foreign policy that frightens many voters, and fail offer a keen and finely honed economic message.
For all his terrible faults, Mr. Bush is able to take some advantage of the disorganization of his opponents. That's very unsettling to me.