Holding Bush accountable

As we go to press, the Republican Party is gathered just a few miles from our offices to nominate George W. Bush for a second term as president of the United States. Most knowledgeable observers expect the November election to be very close. The nation is divided by region and “culture,” or so the pundits and the polls tell us. On each side of the political divide, partisan support is deep and unflinching. Undecided voters are few, and concentrated in a handful of “swing” states, mostly in the Midwest. Both parties have spent millions to register new voters. Both sides have had little trouble raising unprecedented amounts of money-or spending it.

This portrait of the electorate and the political process is by now all too familiar, even clichéd. Yet it carries an element of dissonance, especially in light of the reputation Americans have for being political pragmatists, not ideologues. Yes, George W. Bush seems to possess personal qualities-piety, sincerity, unpretentiousness, a certain warmth, and sense of humor-that broadly reflect how Americans like to think of themselves. Even when the president’s assertions are contradicted by the evidence, most voters do not seem eager to question Bush’s avowedly lofty motives and explicitly religious demeanor. Yet if Bush remains a friendly and reassuring presence for many, this can hardly disguise his failures in judgment, or his determination to obscure the truth...

To read the rest of this article please login or become a subscriber.