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Is Hope a Plan?

As Will Wilkinson says, "a large number of Republican folk have told me that Bush is going to be OK in his second term. I doubt it! But let's see it." I can even sort of see the logic here. The idea would be that freed of the need to win re-election, Bush could start implementing an agenda that, though conservative and therefore (to me) disagreeable, it would at least start being a sensical, normal, "grown-up" agenda and not the madness we've grown accustomed to. I doubt it! But here's hoping....

November 3, 2004 | Permalink


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» A few thoughts on the election from JOLLYBLOGGER - a weblog for jolly beggars
I have this sense that, as a blogger I have to say something about the election. I've been reading several blogs today, pro-Bush and anti-Bush and some of them are quite eloquent and insightful. Therefore I feel this tremendous burden [Read More]

Tracked on Nov 3, 2004 5:43:18 PM

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bLogicus: Value, Character Count Captain's Quarter's: Kerry's Concession, Bush's Victory Lap Daniel Drezner: Always Look On The Brighter Side Froggy Ruminations: It's A Slam Dunk, Mr. President Instapundit: Left Wing Round Up Matthew Yglesias: Is Hope ... [Read More]

Tracked on Nov 3, 2004 6:10:15 PM


what a waste of time and of a perfectly good emotion. It is beyond comprehension at this point that anyone - matthew included - would think that somehow bush is going to moderate himself (or that even if he was so inclined, delay would let him).

he's got a rubber stamp congress, he's still got the same people around him, and he didn't change in the past 24 hours.

there is no hope that he will suddenly become an honest conservative rather than a dangerous right-winger, and spending any brain cells on that hope is a self-indulgent waste.

Posted by: howard | Nov 3, 2004 1:44:00 PM

No hope:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans, having expanded their control of Congress, were positioned on Wednesday to provide greater help to President Bush to push a stepped-up conservative agenda in his second term.

The Republican president has sought to extend tax cuts, promote pro-business policies and appoint anti-abortion judges and he may make another attempt to secure a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages.

"With a bigger majority, we can do even more exciting things," House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a Texas Republican, told a local television station in his state.

Posted by: richard | Nov 3, 2004 1:44:16 PM

60 million people voted against him.

If our side can keep this up, we'll be the new majority.

No matter what Bush gives us, we'll get through four years.

Hopefully 72 million (another 20% increase) will vote Democrat in 2008.

We took their best shot, we went down but we're not out.

Posted by: Nicholas Finney | Nov 3, 2004 1:45:45 PM

It's a nice hope -- but a futile one. Bush was handed the opportunity to govern from a more moderate position. Don't forget his approval ratings soared toward the stratosphere after 9/11. He had the chance to be the president of all of America, or the president of the far right -- and he chose the far right. The most memorable line from Suskind's book on Paul O'Neill was "If you're not going to do the right thing at 80%, when are you going to do the right thing?" (That's from memory, so I may not have gotten it exactly right. It had to do with steel tariffs, and I think it was Larry Lindsey who said it.)

So don't look for anything approximating the right thing for the next four years at least.

Posted by: Roddy McCorley | Nov 3, 2004 1:47:02 PM

The non-sensical positions of Bush were not entirely the result of political calculations, they were the result of nonsensical policy processes. Paul O'Neil's account of economic policy meetings portrays a god awful situation, now made worse by an even bigger mandate than last time. The policy of this country seems to be based on which advisor knows which buzzwords Bush likes best, and it seems likely to me that the next crop of advisors are going to be influenced by the success of their re-election campaign.
Truly a sad day in America. The sanity in policy of the Clinton years has been completely erased by a faith-based, mission from God mentality that will avoid the reality-based community until it is overwhelmingly forced to confront it. The one hope is that the resulting mess is enough to discredit this type of governance for a very long time.

Posted by: theCoach | Nov 3, 2004 1:52:17 PM

i see it as exactly the opposite: freed of his need for reelection, he can shower his base with all the socially conservative baubles he can stamp out.

Posted by: cleek | Nov 3, 2004 1:52:24 PM

A futile hope. It's more likely to work the other way. Freed of the need to seek reelection Bush will move even further right.

The argument is that there is a "real" Bush and a "political" Bush. Wilkinson may think r-Bush is more moderate than p-Bush. I doubt it.

Posted by: Bernard Yomtov | Nov 3, 2004 1:52:46 PM

After 9/11, Bush could have won the 2004 election EASILY by being hawkish on defense (as most of the country wanted him to be) while being moderate socially and fiscally.

But he didn't. He chose to enact a base-pleasing right-wing agenda. And he was rewarded for it.

What oh what will make him change now? He has control of both houses of Congress and will be able to appoint AT LEAST two Supremes. He has nothing stopping him but his own common decency. And can we really count on that?

Posted by: Brad Reed | Nov 3, 2004 1:53:17 PM

Dream on, dude. They're going to try to lock in a permanent majority through structural means.

Posted by: praktike | Nov 3, 2004 1:55:52 PM

What makes anyone think that Bush is a different person as a result of having his last four years' worth of policies confirmed? Because it would take a different person to reverse governing style and ideology. They have a plan that will harm America to a very great degree. That plan just got the approval of a majority of the electorate.

Posted by: Marshall | Nov 3, 2004 1:56:37 PM

Hope they have enough rope to fucking hang themselves.

Posted by: j swift | Nov 3, 2004 1:57:07 PM

Bush won't have to give anymore of those annoying press conferences.

I see him becoming even more of a bubble dweller than he is now.

Posted by: wvmcl | Nov 3, 2004 1:59:37 PM

He's got a rubber stamp congress, he's still got the same people around him, and he didn't change in the past 24 hours. There is no hope that he will suddenly become an honest conservative rather than a dangerous right-winger, and spending any brain cells on that hope is a self-indulgent waste.

I completely agree with howard. If one is silly enough to need any further proof than what already happened in the past four years, look no further than the election campaign itself. It was Bush-Roveism to the nth power: reckless demagogy, rampant wing-nuttery, blatant lying, non-stop up-is-down we're-right-even-when-we're-wrong. And they got a fucking majority out of it. So now they're going to be "OK," in the sense that the entire past four years were something other than "OK?"

Fuck anyone and everyone who thinks that. They knew exactly what they were voting for, and they're goddamn well going to get it.

Posted by: Haggai | Nov 3, 2004 2:00:30 PM

Once wingnut is always wingnut.

Posted by: abb1 | Nov 3, 2004 2:14:39 PM

Here's what's coming!

Posted by: Bill Bennett | Nov 3, 2004 2:18:10 PM

Considering the lack of any vetos at all, I think it might be fairer to characterize Bush as a rubber stamp President... Think he'll get through the second term, too, without vetoing anything?

Posted by: Brett Bellmore | Nov 3, 2004 2:21:44 PM

The Washington Monthly:

What If Bush Wins

By a panel of 16 writers:

The Triumph of Anything Goes
David Greenberg

The Plutocrats Go Wild
James K. Galbraith

The Democratic Party Is Toast
Grover Norquist

The Scandals Finally Break
Kevin Drum

The Empire Strikes Out
Gideon Rose

Hoover's Court Rides Again
Cass R. Sunstein

Vengeance Is His
Paul Begala

Bush Becomes a Moderate, Really
Mickey Edwards & Nancy Sinnott Dwight

The Left Learns From Goldwater
Todd Gitlin

The Deficit Conquers All
Sebastian Mallaby

W. Takes On Global Warming
Gregg Easterbrook

The Roquefort Cheese Wars
Christopher Buckley

Decline of American Greatness
Elaine Kamarck

America Gets Privatized
E.J. Dionne

The Glorious Revolution: A Look Back
Jeff Greenfield

Posted by: abb1 | Nov 3, 2004 2:26:09 PM

Even sadder is the realization that we lost because of our stance on gay civil unions. Clearly Kerry is on the proper side (if not far enough), but the Rove strategy of juicing the base with wedge cultural value issues worked perfectly, and the electoral majority seems far to the right of even Bush.
W stands for America weeping.

Posted by: theCoach | Nov 3, 2004 2:30:31 PM

The Republican Party conspired to elect a man with the early stages of Alzheimers. The Republican Party conspired to elect a man who needed -- and used! -- external prompting in his first televised debate. Republicans in the White House exposed a CIA agent for spite.

There is no core of values there.

(I'd be interested in the odds that ALL swing state exit polls could have been off by a similar amount. Were they purposefully over-optimistic to cheer on Democratic voters? Or is there some horrifically clever finagle going on?)

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis | Nov 3, 2004 2:31:01 PM

I'm getting the urge to start passing out blame.

Some people go after Kerry's campaign and how it was run. Others go after the spineless media. Still others, the change in ethics in the national culture. Others, the Republican political capital from 9/11. And there are very good cases for these things.

But another villain I'd like for the blogosphere to set its Superman laser-beam focus on is Identity Politics as a whole. This debacle is one instance of how Identity Politics has made political argument a-rational. People voted against their interests and for Bush because they made it an important part of their self-identity to describe themselves as Republicans or Bush-Supporters.

Posted by: lucidish | Nov 3, 2004 2:32:55 PM

Top Ten Reasons to move to Canada for the next four years:

1- Liberal is not a bad word here. The Liberal Party of Canada has governed for roughly 80 of the last 100 years.
2- Morons not permitted to run the country.
3- Economy is in terrific shape.
4- Fiscal responsibility: billions in federal surpluses in each of the last 6 years.
5- Universal healthcare.
6- Activist and progressive Supreme Court.
7- Responsible media (Fox News is banned, for example).
8- Voting here is simple: draw an X next to the name of preferred candidate.
9- No Republican party.
10- Good Beer.

Disgruntled Americans: Canada welcomes you.

Posted by: Amis | Nov 3, 2004 2:33:28 PM

I think Matthew has it about right.

Bush now has his third chance to bring Americans together. It wouldn't require him to "govern like a Democrat". He could govern like a Republican interested in achieving real policy objectives. He could say a few words about Kerry's sacrifices for his country, and a few more about how dissent and treason are distinguishable. The expectations are so low that the Democrats and the Europeans would give him another chance (the Muslim world wouldn't, but whadda ya want, miracles?)

Hardcore kossacks would be unpersuaded, of course, and some of his base might be a bit put off, but the benefits for the Republican party would be huge.

I'm not saying it *will* happen, but it might. The Bush administration actually handled things pretty well between September 01 and April 02. If they had kept at it, we would all be talking about the biggest landslide in history right now.

Posted by: Gareth | Nov 3, 2004 2:33:31 PM

"Think he'll get through the second term, too, without vetoing anything?"

Yes. Delay and Frist and Rove/Bush/Cheney work well together. DeLay does not want his people thinking they can go over his head; Bush doesn't want that either. And Congressman are always up for re-election.

What exactly would DeLay prove or gain by forcing Bush to repudiate his own party?

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Nov 3, 2004 2:33:38 PM

2nd Term = Legacy = Populism

Posted by: Publius Rex | Nov 3, 2004 2:34:03 PM

I hope few people on the left are falling for Kerry's national unity/ time of healing bullshit. If the Democrats don't get on a war footing they're history.

Posted by: ick | Nov 3, 2004 2:39:12 PM

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