Campaigns/Elections

The Certain Loser this Election

No matter who wins on Tuesday, the Bush era is finally coming to an end

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Regardless of what the polls say, it's not clear who is going to win the presidential race. But it is clear who is going to lose: George W. Bush. If this contest proves anything, it's that the electorate is sick of him and eager for someone very different.

They might even prefer the candidate they elected in 2000. The one who promised to be "a uniter, not a divider." Who said he would "call for responsibility and try to live it as well." Who said the United States should be "a humble nation." Who faulted Al Gore for plotting to enlarge the government.

That candidate soon became famous for exploiting divisions, refusing to hold himself or his subordinates accountable, letting expenditures soar, and making America synonymous with arrogance in much of the world. Whatever Americans hoped Bush would provide, it's safe to say that an open-ended war, an assault on the Constitution, and an economic panic were not among them.

Americans may decide to replace him with another Republican, but if John McCain emerges victorious, it will be a tribute to his efforts to convince voters that he and Bush have barely met. Sometimes he sounds like he's running against Bush rather than Barack Obama.

One of his TV ads asked, "The last eight years haven't worked very well, have they?" An earlier one charged, "We're worse off than we were four years ago." At a recent rally, for anyone who missed the subliminal message, he thundered, "I'm not George Bush!"

Any GOP nominee might do the same. But not just anyone could offer attributes that contrast so markedly with Bush's. The president arrived as a foreign policy novice, with only six years in public office and a history of uninterest in what lay beyond our borders. Bush referred to the people of Greece as "Grecians," and in a 2000 radio interview, couldn't name the president of Pakistan.

Those are not the sort of mistakes the Arizona senator would make. McCain has traveled the world and made it his responsibility to inform himself about it, from multiple visits to Iraq to regular appearances at the annual Munich Conference on Security Policy, where defense officials from dozens of countries gather to discuss matters of war and peace.

Last spring, his aides were able to name 69 countries he has visited, which they said was not a complete list. One of the most arresting moments of the campaign came in the second debate, when he said, "I've been to Waziristan"—winning the prize for the most unlikely boast ever heard in a U.S. election.

He was also a combat pilot and a prisoner of war, both of which tend to confirm one's seriousness in a way that Bush's unimpressive stint in the Air National Guard didn't.

Obama can't flout a military record, but his strengths, like McCain's, have a way of mirroring the president's shortcomings. Bush got where he is with the help of first-class family connections; Obama had to rise through brains and initiative. Bush regularly loses wrestling matches with the English language, while Obama expresses himself with unnerving fluency.

Bush becomes defensive and peevish when asked to answer the simplest questions about his policies; Obama never gets ruffled. Where Bush treats criticism like the Ebola virus, Obama conveys the impression that he hopes to learn from those who disagree with him.

The response of so many people to his message of unity comes partly from weariness with the administration's nonstop scorched-earth tactics. He conveys the novel view that Americans can disagree without hating each other. It's impossible to imagine an Obama attorney general braying, as John Ashcroft did in 2001, that his critics "give ammunition to America's enemies and pause to America's friends."

If Obama loses, though, it may well be because of something he shares with the Bush of 2000—a thin political resume that raises doubts about whether he can handle the most demanding job on Earth. If McCain loses, it will be largely because he is identified with the obstinacy and errors of the current White House occupant.

In the end, Americans may vote for either candidate. But after eight years of Bush, most of them will leave the polls singing the words of an old country tune: Thank God and Greyhound you're gone.

COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

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  1. Dear Mr. Chapman,

    You write that Sen. Obama can’t “flout” a military record – I believe you mean “flaunt.”

    The below are from Webster’s.

    Main Entry: flout
    Part of Speech: v
    Definition: to treat with contempt and disregard

    dictionary results for: flaunt
    -verb (used without object) 1. to parade or display oneself conspicuously, defiantly, or boldly.
    2. to wave conspicuously in the air.

  2. It isn’t likely McCain is going to be the new Decider.

  3. Thank you, Ellen.

    Altough Chapman may have been attempting a parody of Bush’s own poor grammar.

    But I doubt it.

  4. Although I am sure I can say that we are all relieved to see Bush leave office, I am saddened at both of our choices to replace him. Both of these choices are a loss for the American people, our only hope is that Obama becomes more of a centrist while in office, or McCain gets back to his “maverick” (for lack of a better word) roots.

    As an aside you mentioned Obama doesn’t get flustered when asked touch questions on policies. This may be true as of late but early on Obama was pretty terrible in this department. He could always give a great speech but as far as tough questions he was pretty awful. He has come a long way since the primaries but he has an uncanny ability to basically repeat the question asked, then go off on a tangent that is completely non-sequitor, but at the end you feel like he has answered the questions well.

  5. He meant “tout”.

  6. I can’t wait. The end of the GWB era. I can expect the budget to be slashed 80%, Part D to be repealed and a restoration of the proper authority of the executive office. Yes, things will be grand and wonderful.

  7. I just figured out why everything sucks. It’s because every week starts with Steve Chapman, the suckiest suck whatever sucked.

    Jesus Christ plucking a turkey he sucks.

    HEY REASON!
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    STEVE CHAPMAN SUCKS
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. I like the last sentence in the comments. As a cognate to that somg, I offer you a Destiny’s Child song on a similar subject

  9. I wouldn’t vote for either of these losers if they were the only two people capable of running for any political office anywhere. It doesn’t matter how you stack these two guys up, which ever wins, we lose. But it’s true about one thing: Part of the reason for it is the great powers Bush and his evil sycophants piled up around the executive department, power which will not go away and will not remained unused by either McCain or Obama.

    Damn him forever for that.

  10. Regardless of what the polls say, it’s not clear who is going to win the presidential race.

    Oh, I wouldn’t say that.

  11. Can anyone name one achievement of George Bush’s that libertarians approve of? In eight years? The guy couldn’t sell me an ice cream cone on a hot summer day.

  12. Can anyone name one achievement of George Bush’s that libertarians approve of?

    Nary a one, and yet the liberals crow about how his failures are supposedly failures of libertarians. It’s farcical.

    -jcr

  13. I have to keep pointing this out to retarded democrats, and now Mr. Chapman. Bush isn’t running for anything. Dick Cheney isn’t either. So if you want to talk about the ignuts currently on the ballot, fine, but Bush ain’t one of them.

  14. Where Bush treats criticism like the Ebola virus, Obama conveys the impression that he hopes to learn from those who disagree with him.

    Well, unless they’re bitter gun owners.

  15. Obama conveys the impression that he hopes to learn from those who disagree with him.

    I wouldn’t say siccing your goons on people who disagree with conveys that impression, but that’s just me.

  16. November 4th looms … We. Are. Fucked.

  17. Kerry would have been worse?

  18. All of Bush’s problems are partly owned by the GOP. They defended Bush for a solid 6 years.

    The dems will probably have 2 of 3 branches of government. If the republicans would have practiced what they preached, and not given Bush a free pass for most of his time. Things could have been different.

  19. Tricky… agreed. The GOP enabled the biggest growth in government since FDR. They tacitly supported the War in Iraq, the Patriot Act, wiretapping, the multi-trillion dollar expansion of Medicare, the bloated Agriculture, Energy and Transportation bills, status quo on Social Security, the expansion of the welfare state, NCLB, and the pork bonanza on Capitol Hill, just to name a scant few atrocities.
    Republicans have been more than Dem-lite. They have outdone the Dems at their own game. Thanks Bush! Thanks GOP!

  20. The left loves to scream and whine about the overreach of the executive branch, but Obama’s musing that the Supreme Court hasn’t done enough on the ‘redistribution’ theme doesn’t show much love for or understanding of the seperation of powers either.

    What you can’t get passed through the legislature, shove down our throats through the courts.

    One thing, the Chapman’s of the world will make the Obama presidency seem better by comparison with the positive spin or non-reporting of bad news and endless stories of how we are now loved by all of the international community over the next 4 years.

    Perhaps I’m just bitterly clinging to my selfishness though.

  21. “Regardless of what the polls say, it’s not clear who is going to win the presidential race. But it is clear who is going to lose: George W. Bush. If this contest proves anything, it’s that the electorate is sick of him and eager for someone very different”

    False — both candidates are as bad as bush and they are supported by more than a hundred millions sheep.

  22. Re Obama’s “unnerving fluency”, when not reading,
    he stammers: “ah”, “ah”, “ah”, “ah”. If one makes
    sure one’s mind is in gear before putting one’s
    mouth in motion, there is no need for”ah”.

  23. So, what can we expect Bush to do in his post-Presidential days? Clear brush at his ranch? Mayor of Crawford? Next CEO of Halliburton?Traveling about on diplomatic missions like Jimmy Carter?

  24. My bet on one thing he won’t do : bad-mouth the next sitting president from the sidelines a la Carter.

  25. So, what can we expect Bush to do in his post-Presidential days? Clear brush at his ranch? Mayor of Crawford? Next CEO of Halliburton?Traveling about on diplomatic missions like Jimmy Carter?

    Drown in his own drool?

    Hey, I can dream.

  26. I missed how these two are different than Pres. Bush? A statist by any other name…

  27. They’ll have different governing styles. That’s how they’ll govern differently.

    I’m starting (after less than a year) to get real sick of libertarians’ constant dismissal of anything and everything that isn’t “pure” enough. I’m not aiming at anyone specifically, and share the frustration that both candidates will grow government. But there’s always a Libertarian candidate promising to shrink govt and they never get more than 1-2% (or am I being too generous there?) Quit whining and figure out why people don’t vote libertarian. Then, if you can change their minds, do it. If not, move to New Hampshire, Wyoming (Free State Projects) or Galt’s Gulch. Wait, that doesn’t exist. Yet. Start one?

  28. Andy, did you become a libertarian this year? Because your blanket statements about libertarians would imply as much.

  29. “Regardless of what the polls say, it’s not clear who is going to win the presidential race.”

    Chapman is clearly a moron who doesn’t understand modern polling techniques. But he’s right about the Bush era coming to an end. Of course, a smart boder collie could have told you that. Where does reason get such talent?

  30. So can I publicly want GWB dead now? Or do I have to wait until January?

  31. I’d like to thank those citizens who helped pass the 22nd amendment to the United States Constitution. Its passage truly shows the electorate’s displeasure with George W. Bush.

  32. You have all forgotten. Bush will create some crisis. Declare martial law and use that to keep Cheney, I mean himself, as President-for-Life until Jenna can accede to the throne.

    Everyone will be sidetracked by the voting machine irregularities (which wouldn’t be considered such if everyone accepted the truth that said machines are owned by the Rebublicans) and disappeared Obama ballots.

    So don’t count Bush out, just yet.

  33. Why are any libertarians voting for Obama? Seriously. On almost any given policy issue, he’s not our guy. Ok, so he might be softer on drugs. Wahoo! Big deal.

    Don’t get me wrong, McCain doesn’t blow my socks off either, but seriously, is there even a contest between which of these guys is more inline with our side?

  34. Nice parting shot. Maybe George Bush can’t pour piss out of a boot with the instructions on the heel, but the amount of incessant media abuse he has taken over the last several years is disgraceful, probably unmatched in modern history, and makes the absurd treatment Richard Nixon received look like child’s play.

    Paul Krugman is very lucky that he copped the Economics Nobel Prize this year for his twice weekly abuse of Bush. What that vitriolic spewing has to do with economics is lost on me. He will now have to look for another muse. The “bash George Bush, win a Nobel Prize” phenomenon has played out. Keith Olberman, Maureen Dowd and other one note charlies are probably going to be hard pressed to come up with original material.

    It’s OK, W. You still look good compared to Jimmy Carter.

  35. gee, i think we should keep King George 2nd around for awhile longer, maybe another 4 or 8 years… i got nothing against the new coming King B.O., but i’ve listened to that guy and he can talk for hours and say nothing.

  36. Sorry – Bush may have made some mistakes – but tell me what president ever had to deal with 9/11? My question is whether or not Obama’s “humble” America will open the door for terrorists to come back within our borders. Even Biden said Obama would have a major crisis to deal with. Does that mean he’ll be an attack dog in response, or will he lay down on his back, show his belly and cry Uncle and try and “use diplomacy” while firemen are racing up stairwells to rescue people who are dying? Had diplomacy worked during the Clinton administration, then terrorists would not have been plotting all those years to attack America.

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