Tuesday, May 25, 2004

The Dream Campaign

Check out this article by Elizabeth Drew in The New York Review of Books on the mindset behind the Bush campaign.

The Bush reelection campaign is strictly hierarchical and highly disciplined. To some extent, this reflects a difference between Democrats and Republicans, but it mostly reflects the unquestioned control that Karl Rove has over the campaign. Kenneth Mehlman, the Bush campaign manager who heads the “Bush-Cheney04” reelection committee, was Rove’s deputy in the White House. Edward Gillespie, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, is entirely loyal to Rove. The only important figure in Bush’s campaign who doesn’t answer to Rove is Karen Hughes, who, though she left her White House job to return to Texas, has been advising Bush and will shortly join the campaign. Hughes and Rove are said to have conflicting views on some matters, Hughes believing that Rove caters too much to the far right and that in doing so he has given Bush too parochial an image. Hughes is understood to have pushed Bush to present himself during the 2000 election as a “compassionate conservative” and to put more emphasis on domestic programs, such as the prescription drug bill and the “No Child Left Behind” education act.

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Bush has told people that he wants a “mandate” in this election to carry out his deepest wishes. If he receives one, or believes that he has received one, it is altogether likely that the environment will be further damaged, civil liberties will be further threatened, the Supreme Court will likely be set in a radically conservative direction for many years to come, and there will be a greater effort to privatize or cut social programs. The President is likely to feel that he has an even freer hand in foreign policy and in the use of military power, and less need to be accountable to Congress. For these reasons—and probably some that we can’t yet imagine—this is the most consequential election in decades.

Isn’t it ironic that the only thing Bush does with any sense of purpose or determination is the attempt to get his half-assed administration returned to power? If Bush ran the war in Iraq as well as his minions Rove, Mehlman, and Norquist ran his reelection campaign, Baghdad would look like Vegas.