|Confessions of a Reformed Nader-Voter
by Doug Rossinow
To liberals who supported Nader in 2000, the case for Kerry is simple. Bush is a far more radical and ruinous president than almost anyone predicted in 2000. This guy's killing us. He's bankrupted our government with tax cuts for the rich, justifying this with ridiculous Enron accounting. Many of his influential supporters hope to create a fiscal train wreck that finally, finally will justify — Republican Holy of Holies! — liquidating Social Security and/or Medicare.
Most spectacularly, he has plunged us into the foreign occupation of a hostile land, justifying it with one falsehood after another. As a response to the 9/11 attacks (in which, as it happens, a second cousin of mine died), the Iraq invasion was absurd. But Bush knew that becoming "a war president," as he anointed himself, was his ticket to ride. To a politician of his intelligence, that became obvious when he simply showed up with a bullhorn at Ground Zero and found himself compared to Churchill.
The Washington Post, May 31, 2005
Bush's Political Capital Spent, Voices in Both Parties Suggest;
Poll Numbers Sag as Setbacks Mount at Home and Abroad
By Peter Baker and Jim VandeHei, Washington Post Staff Writers
Two days after winning reelection last fall, President Bush declared that he had earned plenty of "political capital, and now I intend to spend it." Six months later, according to Republicans and Democrats alike, his bank account has been significantly drained.
In the past week alone, the Republican-led House defied his veto threat and passed legislation promoting stem cell research; Senate Democrats blocked confirmation, at least temporarily, of his choice for U.N. ambassador; and a rump group of GOP senators abandoned the president in his battle to win floor votes for all of his judicial nominees.
With his approval ratings in public opinion polls at the lowest level of his presidency, Bush has been stymied so far in his campaign to restructure Social Security. On the international front, violence has surged again in Iraq in recent weeks, dispelling much of the optimism generated by the purple-stained-finger elections back in January, while allies such as Egypt and Uzbekistan have complicated his campaign to spread democracy.
The series of setbacks on the domestic front could signal that the president has weakened leverage over his party, a situation that could embolden the opposition, according to analysts and politicians from both sides. Bush faces the potential of a summer of discontent when his capacity to muscle political Washington into following his lead seems to have diminished and few easy victories appear on the horizon.
"He has really burned up whatever mandate he had from that last election," said Leon E. Panetta, who served as White House chief of staff during President Bill Clinton's second term. "You can't slam-dunk issues in Washington. You can't just say, 'This is what I want done' and by mandate get it done. It's a lesson everybody has to learn, and sometimes you learn it the hard way."