The Capitalist Lion writes in defense of Bush:
Bush's spending pisses me off a great deal, especially on crap like the NEA. However, I believe it's the same kind of political dance that he's given the Assault Weapons Ban and a zillion other things of equal stupidity. He's in an election year. He needs votes. He knows he can get a whole lot of them if he pays lip service to such things, and he also knows he can shrug, give a smirk and play both sides when such things get slaughtered in Congress. "Hey, I tried" on one hand, and "It never had a prayer" on the other.
Bush's father tried these same stunts in 1992, and it got him laughed at by the Democrats in Congress, and essentially zero votes from Democrats in the election that year.
He was seen as a fool to be taken advantage of by the other side, and as a fool, period, by the voters. And we all know how he fared in the election -- he'd so alienated his base that many Republicans either stayed home or voted for Perot.
There's no Perot this time around (or at least not yet), but you can bet that if Bush doesn't change his ways, more than a few voters will simply sit on their asses come Election Day.
Remember, winning elections is far far far less about convincing undecideds and the Other Side to vote for you, than it is about motivating your base.
Is Bush motivating his?
NOTE: I say all this as a single-issue voter -- my issue being the continued prosecution of this war. Bush almost certainly has my vote, regardless of how determined he is to emulate the worst of his father's tendencies. What I'd hate is to see my vote wasted in a Francophile Kerry win, because Bush chased away too many of his natural supporters.
UPDATE: James Joyner argues that he's
not sure how much of a "base" true fiscal conservatives are. Especially when the likely opponents--Kerry? Edwards?--are likely to be even more irresponsible.
The two constituencies that most matter to Bush are people like the two of us who put security #1 and the social conservatives. Bush has done a damned good job at keeping both happy.
And he makes a good case. Bush's problem won't be with voters like James and me, it will be with those who only lean towards the war and/or fiscal conservatives. By November, 9/11 will be more than three years in the past and, barring another major attack, most Americans will be feeling pretty safe. "War voters" just might not exist in the numbers necessary to ensure a Bush win.