Columns » Bob McCord

Bush's bounce


Polls show that the Republican convention was so successful that President Bush has pulled 10 percent ahead of Democrat John Kerry. Few are surprised because it's obvious that Kerry's handlers are no match for those who tell us why Bush deserves a second term. Some of Kerry's votes against some worthwhile bills in the Senate have backfired. Why wouldn't someone who wanted to be president pay more attention to how he voted? Kerry has talked too much about Vietnam, and the result is that many believe the TV ads of ex-sailors who say Kerry didn't deserve his medals. And some veterans will oppose Kerry because Republicans remind them that when Kerry came back from Vietnam he led a group that protested the war and said that American soldiers were responsible for the deaths of innocent Vietnamese. Democrats are now saying that Kerry needs to challenge Bush about the loss of jobs and the $422 billion deficit, which means about $4,000 from every household in the United States. Few like Bush's idea to privatize Social Security (buy stocks and bonds) so it would have enough money when the 77 million baby boomers start retiring. Kerry should attack Bush's "No Child Left Behind" program, which is a good idea but the president hasn't provided the money to make it work. (Even Texas, Bush's home state, is complaining about his new program.) Some of the guest speakers - Sens. John McCain and Bill Frist, former New York Mayor George Pataki and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger -- didn't seem to help Bush, but they worked hard to make people believe that they should be the next Republican candidate for President. Have we come to the point that we would want a terror movie actor or a city mayor to run our country? And what about the raving of Sen. Zell Miller, who was weaned by FDR, made a nominating speech for Bill Clinton and is now wildly promoting George Bush. Georgia Democrats are running TV ads asking people to remember what Miller used to be and forgive him. There are some things in the president's speech that Kerry ought to point out to the millions who have never liked the idea of sending Americans almost alone to take over Iraq and capture Saddam. Bush said that his administration is "transforming" the military and reforming our intelligence service so that fanatics can't slip into our country. "We are staying on the offensive - striking terrorists abroad - so we do not have to face them here at home. And we are working to advance liberty in the broader Middle East because freedom will bring a future of hope and the peace we all want.... The progress we and our friends and allies seek in the broader Middle East will not come easily, or all at once. ... I believe that millions in the Middle East plead in silence for their liberty. I believe that given the chance, they will embrace the most honorable form of government ever devised by man." How can he say this in view of the resistance our soldiers have had to endure in Iraq? Almost 1,000 Americans have been killed. This war is already longer than the Spanish-American War, and on Oct. 23 the war in Iraq will have lasted longer than Americans fought in World War I. What leads this President to think that the countries in the Middle East - or any country anywhere - will welcome American armies with open arms? As an old newspaperman, I was disappointed that the President distorted the work of a New York Times reporter - Anne O'Hare McCormick, one of America's finest journalists - in order to try to emphasize the importance of his plans to occupy any country that has terrorists. Bush hates the Times even though he doesn't read newspapers, and he said that in 1946 the newspaper's columnist wrote that American soldiers occupying Berlin were failing after the end of World War II. "Maybe that same person's still around writing editorials," Bush said. Well, the President doesn't have to worry about that. McCormick died in 1954. Anyway, according to Maureen Dowd, like McCormick a Pulitzer Prize winner, McCormick's column was not about the United States occupiers but rather the British and French occupiers. By the way, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette used to print Dowd's column but it was barred because the newspaper said she had once misquoted President Bush. The most startling thing I saw on TV or read in newspapers at the end of the Republican convention was in USA Today in a Page 1 story written by Susan Page. It said the race for the White House is so close that there could be an Electoral College tie - 269 to 269 electoral votes. And both parties are preparing for the possibility. There's been only one tie in a presidential race. Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr each received 73 electoral votes in 1800, and, obeying the Constitution, the House of Representatives then voted and Jefferson won. If this happens this November, George Bush will surely become president again because there are more Republicans than Democrats in 30 of the 50 states in the House. This is another good reason why we need to get rid of the Electoral College.

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