Wednesday, March 02, 2016

On George W. Bush winning a second term

I have recently come across a 2004 piece in The Northern Echo I was interviewed about re: George W. Bush winning a second term - link can be found here.

In the interview, I said:

"[. . .] A saving grace could be that Bush may now turn his attention to domestic issues, says Dr Thom Brooks, lecturer in political thought at Newcastle University. Extending his tax cuts may become a priority, along with opposition to abortion and gay marriage, which would be banned under a Constitutional amendment put forward by the born-again President.

"A lot of the states had referendums on gay marriage, and that hurt Kerry, because it reminded voters that Bush was against it," says Dr Brooks.

Along with the White House, the Republicans have not only retained both houses of Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives, but have tightened their grips, with their scalps including the Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, who lost his South Dakota seat.

But while this could give the neo-conservatives in the White House a confidence boost, it could also act as a rein on their excesses, with their influence now diluted by a larger pool. Indeed, Bush may come under pressure to concentrate on what is happening at home, where his record has been less than impressive.

A massive and widening budget deficit, and the worst record on jobs of any president since Herbert Hoover 70 years ago, will not convince many newly-elected Republicans that they stand a good chance of retaining their seats next time.

In this regard, Bush's strength may turn into a weakness. He may have just won the election, but the US Constitution prohibits him from standing again, a factor that will weigh heavily in the minds of other Republican politicians.

"He has got four more years but this is the last term of this president," says Dr Hughes. "If the excesses become too much, it will work against those very people who have been elected on the coat-tails of the global war on terror."

But it is a characteristic of second term presidents that they look towards their place in history, according to Dr Brooks. When Bill Clinton worried about how he would be perceived, he embarked on a massive expansion of federal protected land, largely in the last 48 hours of his presidency.
For George W Bush, whose presidency has been dominated by the war on terror, he may see a decisive victory in this sphere as a suitable epitaph.
"He will begin to get worried about what the rest of the world thinks about him. That is what presidents do," says Dr Brooks. "The question is, will he try to solve the war on terror? Is that going to be his big thing?" [...]"

Well, we know how things turned out next.

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