Alex's Outlook

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Now that Saddam's been captured...

...one has to wonder if anything *isn't* breaking Bush's way. The economy seems poised for 4-5 percent growth this year and 5-6 percent in 2004. A major inspiration of the Iraqi resistance has been captured and humiliated. Al-Qaeda has been badly mauled. The WMD debate will fade into the background now, I think.

I wonder what effect this will have on the Democratic primary contest. If the TradeSports futures market is any indication, Howard Dean is still the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic nomination. Although Dean is not much more liberal than Clark, Gephardt, Kerry or Edwards, he is perceived as such, especially relative to Edwards - which will make him even easier to demolish ten and a half months from now.

I can't picture Bush winning with less than 54 percent of the vote. It is desperately important that Bush campaigns with a crystal-clear agenda of tax reform, tort reform, Social Security privatization, and confirmation of all his judicial nominees, as well as maintaining an aggressive, unilateral-if-necessary foreign policy. It would be a disaster for Bush to lose his opportunity to gain a conservative mandate. The greatest blunder of Reagan's administration was campaigning with no agenda in 1984. He got his landslide, but no mandate. His second term was a sad reversal of his first, with several tax increases and an accelerating expansion of government. His drift to the center resulted in the collapse of the Republican Senate majority in 1986, loss of further congressional seats in 1988 and 1990, and the election of that liberal in moderate coat and tie, Bill Clinton, in 1992.

A 2004 landslide without at least three additional Senate seats or a progressive conservative platform would be a colossal defeat for conservatives, because it would be a wasted opportunity. Conservatives do not want a repeat of 1972/1984.

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