Jewish World Review July 24, 2003 / 24 Tamuz, 5763
As Bush falters, watch Hil run
George W. Bush's job approval ratings
are dropping a point every other week. Most polls now have
his support down in the high or mid-50s. Pollster John
Zogby has them at 53 percent - a huge drop from the low
70s he was registering just two months ago.
The lower Bush drops, the more likely it is that Hillary Clinton runs for president in
2004. She and her husband cannot permit a Democrat not named Clinton to beat
Bush in '04. If one does, she can't run in '08 against an incumbent Democratic
president. She'd have to wait until 2012, by which time she would be 65 and out of
the White House for 12 years. The weaker Bush gets, the more likely a Hillary
Clinton candidacy becomes.
One can imagine the breakfast table conversation in Chappaqua. President Clinton
will say "remember how Mario Cuomo decided that my predecessor, George H.W.
Bush, couldn't be beaten and didn't run? Remember how I did?"
The analogy will be most on point. Like Hillary in 2004, Cuomo could easily have
won the nomination in 1992. By staying out, he left the door open for Bill Clinton
much as Hillary may be opening it for another Democrat this year.
But the historical parallel that rings most true is buried deeper in New York and American history. In 1968,
Robert F. Kennedy, also a carpetbag senator from New York, resisted running for president against Lyndon
Johnson. Convinced that he could not defeat an incumbent chief executive from his own party, Kennedy refused
to take the president on. Then, an obscure Senator from Minnesota, Eugene McCarthy, showed how vulnerable
Johnson was by scoring well in the New Hampshire primary. Kennedy, seeing his chance for the White House
slip away, jumped into the race to challenge Johnson. Freaked, LBJ withdrew a few weeks later.
If Hillary ran, she'd march, almost unopposed, to the nomination. Every candidate but Edwards and Dean is
funding his campaign with donors borrowed from the Clinton organization.
Would she run? It would depend on how low and how fast Bush sinks. If he remains in free fall until September
and October and his ratings drop below 50 percent, Hillary will be itching to go.
How can Bush keep her out? How can he reverse the slide?
The superficial reason for his drop is the idea that he "lied" to us in the State of the Union speech. The more
serious reason, lying underneath, is the drip-drip-drip of casualties in Iraq. Public opinion in the U.S. is not willing
to lose lives in pursuit of what Bush once derided as "nation-building."
But the most fundamental reason for Bush's drop is his own success.
Recent polls show terrorism down below 10 percent as a major issue. By his success in facing down domestic
terrorism and in winning the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, he has done himself out of his best issue.
- Focus on the Palestinian-Israeli talks and emphasize that no cease-fire would have been possible while
Saddam Hussein was still writing checks to suicide bombers.
- Don't leave Iran to the United Nations or the International Atomic Energy Agency. Intervene directly. Increase
financial pressure on Tehran and move its incipient nuclear capacity to center stage in foreign policy.
- Play a more active and visible role in dealing with North Korea. As long as there is a perceived threat to our
security from terrorist nations, the American people will never vote for an untested president.
- Don't go on vacation, as much as Bush deserves one. Instead, focus on passing a Medicare prescription-drug
benefit and forcing the sides to compromise.
The White House needs to remember that it doesn't have a year to improve Bush's popularity. Hillary will decide
in the next four months whether to run.
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JWR contributor Dick Morris is the author of, among others, Off with Their Heads: Traitors, Crooks & Obstructionists in American Politics, Media & Business"
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06/05/03: Napoleon's maneuvers at Austerlitz have nothing on prez's
06/02/03: Prez's tax-cut catch-22 for Dems
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05/16/03: Early Democrat handicapping for 2004
05/14/03: Gephardt: AWOL
04/30/03: Prez can lose
04/25/03: My message to Putin: Call President Bush
04/23/03: NO OIL FOR BLOOD
04/21/03: The war that network news lost in Iraq
04/15/03: Media meltdown
04/10/03: Giving government a good name
04/03/03: Polls' message to Bush: Relax and win the war
03/31/03: Bomb as you need
03/28/03: The strong grow weak through inhibition
03/26/03: Carping pessimism of TV anchors and interviewers fails to give Americans a sense of defeatism
03/17/03: Poll: Get on with it
03/13/03: It's time for U.S. to play hardball at U.N.
03/10/03: The whole (Hispanic) world is watching
03/07/03: Anti-war errors
03/05/03: Domino theory II: Toppling Mideast despots
03/03/03: Europe's triangulators: Chirac and Blair
02/27/03: Invasion? More like a coup
02/21/03: The first casualty of Iraq war: Liberal credibility
02/19/03: Old Europe's last hurrah
02/14/03: Corzine throws down gauntlet on Wall St. fraud
02/12/03: An exile deal for Saddam
02/07/03: The Dems give up the House
02/05/03: France: Saddam's ally
02/03/03: War critics will suffer
02/30/03: Even by Clinton standards, it's sheer chutzpah
01/24/03: Rebirth of the balanced budget Republican
01/22/03: Next to Bubba, Dubya's got it good
01/16/03: End racism in affirmative action
01/13/03: The new swing voter
01/10/03: Political e-mailing comes of age
01/07/03: In Dem race: Home field no advantage
12/31/02: Hey, Hillary: Want to appear like a stateswomyn? Stay silent
12/19/02: Kerry in the lead
12/19/02: Lieberman the frontrunner
12/17/02: In defense of Lott
12/02/02: An issue for Bush: Drugs
11/27/02: Women gone wobbly?
11/25/02: The U.N. over a barrel
11/15/02: Gore's suicide
11/15/02 One-party control is an illusion
11/13/02 The House of Extremes
11/08/02 I have egg on my face
11/01/02 Is Bush losing control over events?
10/25/02What is causing Bush's free fall?
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10/23/02: A deadline for Iraq
10/18/02: Only sure bet of 2002 elections is voter angst
10/16/02: Endangered incumbents
10/11/02: Why multilateralism doesn't work
10/09/02: Hey, Dems: Believe NYTimes polling at your own risk
10/03/02: Dem suicide: Let's count the ways
09/30/02: The Dems just can't stop themselves
09/26/02: The perils of polling
09/19/02: W. boxed in the U.N.
09/19/02: Welfare reform: Keep on keeping on
09/12/02: Are Dems insane on Iraq?
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09/05/02: GOP should triangulate
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08/09/02: As America unites, Gore goes divisive
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07/19/02: Rudy for SEC tough cop
07/17/02: The investor strike
07/15/02: Door open for drug testing students --- go for it, GOP!
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07/03/02: The DNA war for Bush's soul
06/21/02: Why are conservatives winning?
06/19/02: Learning to love the feds
06/14/02: Hey, journalists and Dems: Dubya is doing just fine
06/12/02: It's terrorism, stupid!
06/10/02: Sanctions are a potent weapon
06/04/02: Al Qaeda's more dangerous new front
05/31/02: Why '04 looks tough for liberal Dems
05/24/02: Democratic self-destruction
05/22/02: The Clinton failures
05/15/02: Pataki positioned to win
05/08/02: A wakeup-call for American Jewry
05/03/02: Give Bush back his focus
05/01/02: Immigration fault li(n)es
04/25/02: It's the war, stupid
04/17/02: Bush goes small bore
04/12/02: Bush must be a gentle partisan
04/10/02: In defense of polling
04/08/02: Focus on Iraq, not the Palestinians
04/01/02: Only Internet will bring real campaign finance reform
03/27/02: Where W's drawn a line in the sand
03/22/02: Enron scandal will not trigger a wave of economic populism
03/20/02: Term-limited --- by war
03/15/02: Europe doesn't have a clue
03/11/02: Bush popularity = GOP win?
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02/27/02: The Arafat/Saddam equilibrium must be destroyed
02/21/02: Campaign finance reform won't hurt GOPers
02/13/02: Dodd scurries for cover
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02/06/02: WAR: What women want
02/01/02: They all talk in the end
01/30/01: The odd couple: Chris Dodd and Arthur Andersen
01/22/01: His father's son? Bush better get an 'Act II' fast!
01/18/01: Dubya & the 'vision thing'
01/14/01: The Rumsfeld Doctrine
01/03/01: A President Gore would have been a disaster
01/03/02: Clinton's priority: Political correctness over fighting terror
12/27/01: Terror network grew out of Clinton's inaction, despite warnings
12/24/01: Call 'em back, George
12/18/01: What Bush did right
12/13/01: Libs worry too much
12/11/01: "Open Sesame": Feinstein's proposed bill allows 100,000 non-immigrant students from anti-American countries to our shores
12/07/01: The non-partisan president
12/05/01: Both parties are phony on stimulus debate
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11/21/01: Go for the jugular!
11/16/01: You are all incumbents
11/14/01: Clinton's failure to mobilize America to confront foreign terror after the 1993 attack led directly to 9-11 disaster
11/12/01: To the generals: Don't worry about losing support
11/08/01: The death of the white liberal
11/07/01: Our leaders are being transformed in a way unprecedented in post-World War II history
© 2003, Dick Morris