Man Without Qualities

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Dick Morris: Compare And Contrast

Dick Morris:

Why is Bush falling so badly? The superficial reasons are the Iraq casualties, the failure to find WMDs and the continuing inability to round up Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. But the real reason is that terror is receding as an issue, largely due to Bush's success. The solution for Bush is to put terrorism back on the front burner by high profile and aggressive action against Iran and/or North Korea. It's not necessary to wag the dog, but Bush should wag his tongue and raise the profile of these two remaining threats to our security.


US President George W. Bush's approval ratings have taken a hit in recent weeks, but analysts say the reason lies in the country's economic troubles rather than the unrest in Iraq. .... "The public's priority has shifted significantly to focus more on the economic side," says Scott Keeker, a specialist with the Pew Research Center, a political research organization in Washington. "Of course, the news continues to be pretty discouraging there."

Absent something of the scale of a major new terrorist act, the bulk of the 2004 presidential election - say, 80% - is going to be the performance of the American economy. That's going to be true whether Messrs. Bush or Morris like it or not, and it will be true whether or not Mr. Bush takes action against Iran or North Korea. But the economy is doing better, and it is revealing that the Democrats and Mr. Bush's other critics find themselves admitting that, yes, there is a recovery, and, yes, it is now even a strong recovery ... but, but, but it is a jobless recovery. The Democrats are rather like children's storybook characters on a chunk of ice nearing the equator. Will they reach the island (or the election) before it melts completely (or employment or public optimism picks up) and the sharks have their way? That's in tommorrow's chapter, sweetheart - now it's time to sleep.

Dick Morris is a brilliant man. But sometimes one gains considerable comfort knowing that it is unlikely that Dick Morris spends time at the Jefferson Hotel, sucking on the toes of some hired girl while chatting up this President with strategic "insights." The correct advice for the President is:

Do what you can to enhance the economic recovery. And if you can't think of anything to do, just do what you can to shore up your various constituencies, campaign with vigor and hope for the best - and, of course, talk up how you're better on national security and terrorism than your opponent is. That's good at the margin, and you may have to play with tight margins. You've got a good shot. Unemployment and the polling sags it brings are lagging indicators and there's still more than a year to November, 2004. And don't start any wars you don't absolutely have to.

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