So the first big Presidential Debate is fini and the next one is looming on the horizon, and critiques of the debate and recently released poll numbers have caused predictable reactions on both sides. Kerry supporters are seeing a "horse race". They figure their guy killed in the debate, just handed Dubya his swaggering Crawford rear end, and is now pulling up for a photo finish. Meanwhile, Bush supporters are (rightly) disappointed at their candidate's performance, worried that the liberal media is helping the opposition gain ground and are now obsessing over whether or not Kerry snuck a pen or a couple of cheat sheets in.
Well, I've got a message for both sides. To my people on the Right: Chill. I've said it elsewhere and I'll say it again: George W. Bush's re-election victory is a foregone conclusion. The only point of contention here is how badly he's going to kick Mr. Teresa Heinz's posterior come November 2. Pundits on both sides of the political spectrum are capable of seeing this, as evidenced by their columns:
Charles Krauthammer:"If the election were held today [Sept. 20], John Kerry would lose by between 88 and 120 electoral votes. The reason is simple: The central vulnerability of this president - the central issue of this campaign - is the Iraq war. And Kerry has nothing left to say…he has said everything conceivable regarding Iraq. Having taken every possible position on the war, there is nothing he can say now that is even remotely credible."
Michael Goodwin:"John Kerry is going through a staff shakeup that is a ritual of every losing campaign. In are a bunch of party veterans, most associated with Bill Clinton, and out, or demoted, are loyalists who brung him to the dance in the first place. Only the most incompetent person on the team is secure: Kerry himself."
Zev Chafets:"It is possible that no Democrat could beat Bush this year. The President has Ralph Nader on his side, and demography. Since the 2000 election, shifts in population have added seven electoral votes to the Red Bush states and subtracted seven from Goreland."
Daniel Pipes:"I expect the U.S. Presidential Election in 2004 will be a Bush blow-out victory, reminiscent of Reagan's in 1984. I say that in part because on the key issue of the day - should the U.S. Government prosecute a war or a police action against militant Islam - a healthy majority of Americans favor the president's view…"
Pipes's prediction is especially incisive considering it was written in March, and yet the race is shaping up just as he said. In 1984, the situation after the first debate was pretty similar. The press was calling Walter Mondale "The Comeback Kid" and saying Reagan didn't look comfortable during the debate. Walter Mondale got a bounce, too. So what happened in 1984? Can you say Reagan Landslide?
And if that isn't enough, remember Bush's dominance in the polls since the Republican Convention. If Kerry's nomination ceremony gave him a "bounce", Bush's gave him a boost to Low Earth Orbit. His lead in most polls nationwide was anywhere between a modest 2 points and a decent 15 going into the debate, and even though the media are citing a couple of polls where Kerry has drawn dead even, most polls still show voters coming down on Bush's side. The best way to illustrate this is to check out the electoral vote charts at Slate.com and RealClearPolitics.com. Both charts are awash with solid red (locked in for Bush) and faded red (leaning toward Bush) states. If the election were held today - that famous phrase - 43 would already be re-elected.
Which brings me to my people on the Left: Throw out an anchor and haul your balloons back down to Earth. Keep believing the hype attaining to Kerry's ability to answer Jim Lehrer's softballs with a straight face and when it doesn't result in the upset victory you're all dying for it's gonna hurt - a lot. I know you've invested a lot in this guy. You voted for him when your hearts were set on Dean or Nader or because Kerry was the guy with the real chance at taking the prize. If you don't prepare yourselves now, you'll find yourselves running into the street after Kerry's concession speech, throwing yourselves on the ground and screaming to whatever New Age spiritual icon you've chosen to become one with "Why? Why??! A THOUSAND TIMES WHY??!!"
Well, that New Age spiritual icon isn't going to give you an answer, but I will, 'cause I understand the question. You'll be thinking "After everything we threw at this SOB he still walked back into the freakin' White House! Wassup with that?"
Here's the bottom line: When George W. Bush gets re-elected, it will be because most of the electorate is observant enough to see him for the type of President he really is, and not the one that people like John Kerry, Jacques Chirac, Kofi Annon, Ted Kennedy, Dan Rather, Michael Moore and certain people on this site have been trying to make him into. Hard as it may be for you to believe, there really are lots of people in the country that think Bush is doing a great job as Commander-In-Chief and Chief Executive, and I'm going to demonstrate why in this essay. Do I expect to change your minds? Absolutely not. I just don't want you to be too shocked when the first projections come in.
COMING UP: THE WAR ON TERROR