Bush redux

George W. Bush does not deserve a second term as president. His record of miscalculation, error, and deceit with regard to the invasion of Iraq alone should have been enough for voters to return him to Texas. For that to happen, however, Senator John Kerry had to convince the American electorate that he had a clear plan of action for dealing with the problems we face as a nation during a time of terrorism and economic uncertainty. Kerry failed to do that. In the end, Bush won the popular vote by 3.5 million, making a better showing in every region of the country than he did in 2000, including the so-called blue states. Bush may be inept or worse at governing at home and leading the community of nations abroad, but he remains an instinctively gifted salesman and politician.

Of course an incumbent president in time of “war” enjoys enormous advantages. Voters are hesitant to change leaders lest that send a signal of weakness to the enemy. And no one could accuse the president of not playing up such concerns. Much of his campaign against Kerry was simple fearmongering, especially when given voice in the soft-spoken belligerence of Dick Cheney. Still, despite the bitter and divisive nature of the campaign, voters came out in record numbers. One measure of how engaged Americans were in this election is the startling fact that even in defeat John Kerry garnered more votes for president than anyone in American...

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