They the People
"[I]n his first six years in office he has managed to combine the lapses of leadership, misguided policies and abuse of power of his failed predecessors."For his part, The Heretik concludes on a resonant note with the following:
"People who go with their gut feeling and brag about it regularly eventually are recognized for who they are: people too lazy to use their brains. This White House has been run by people who have presumed the people could be fooled all the time. We are smarter than that. We have the heart and the compassion our leader does not."While Pierce, Buchanan, and (let us not forget) Hoover might indeed have been bottom-rung, failed leaders, it is important to keep in mind that every one of them was, as is George W. Bush, an elected leader. The very real possibility that Mr. Bush's two election victories were the result of fraud does nothing to mitigate the glaring fact that a large number of Americans from time to time vote into office, and then choose to retain to that office, extraordinarily incompetent, venal, corrupt, ineffective, and/or just plain bad individuals.
That quite a few of Mr. Bush's former supporters now want him out of office is no evidence of fundamental change within them; they remain what they were when they voted for him, praised him, and supported his actions: they are a deep shadow cast by the American psyche, something to which this nation in its elected officials will revert again and again.
These people, just like those who ultimately repudiated the likes of miserable Presidents before, are not supporters of progressivism, not in any meaningful sense of the word; they are instead fickle users, people who will in the fullness of time return to their tendency to find mean-spirited stupidity in those they hold in esteem. Neo-conservatism in general, and George W. Bush in particular, offered methods of governance that voters found attractive. That neo-conservatism as it was operationalized by Bush failed merely means he failed. Offer up to those same voters another Republican or even a Democrat every bit as pretend-tough, "down-home" mean, "gut"-oriented in decision making, and they will jump right on the bandwagon.
Below is a graphical presentation of the latest Quinnipiac University National Thermometer poll of "warmth of sentiment" held by voters toward prominent politicians.
Published on November 27, the results are telling. Topping the list is Republican Rudolph Giuliani, whose supposedly "liberal" views on matters such as choice are at least arguably overshadowed by his legendary reputation as a get-tough law enforcement type. More tellingly, setting aside Bill Clinton, who cannot run for President in 2008, the top of the chart is dominated by Republicans and their ally, Senator Joseph Lieberman, a Democrat in name only when it comes to many of his foreign policy positions, which are stikingly neo-conservative.
But some might point out that Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) certainly seems to hold a good second place in the graphic above. Unfortunately, other data collected during the Quinnipiac survey reveals that, while Mr. Obama scores high on warmth of sentiment, that might be only because many of those surveyed don't know much about him. The graphic below shows the percentage of poll respondents who didn't know enough about the politician to offer a response to the "warmth of sentiment" question. Obama scored 41 percent on the lack of recognition component of the survey, placing him in the lower half of the 20 on the list.
This is even more troubling than it first appears. The simple correlation coefficient for Democrats shows a slightly negative relationship of -0.092 between "warmth of sentiment" and lack of recognition. This is barely if at all statistically significant and means respondents were slightly more likely to associate high warmth of sentiment to those Democrats about whom they knew. The correlation coefficient for the Republicans is even less significant at a value of -0.065.
Sen. Obama bucks the slight overall tendency evident for both Democrats and Republicans: he scores high on the "warmth of sentiment" measure, but also scores high on lack of recognition. In fact, the extent of Mr. Obama's anomalous combination of results for warmth of sentiment and lack of recognition is revealed when the correlation coefficient for the Democrats is run removing his data: the value of the correlation coefficient more than doubles from -0.092 all the way to -0.22. This indicates that, taking out the only Democrat in the top four, respondents reveal a statistically significantly greater warmth of sentiment the more they know about Democrats. But because no Democrats are among the top four when Sen. Obama is removed from the poll results, that warmth of sentiment for Democrats is shared by fewer people than is the same sentiment for Republican candidates.
That does not bode well for Democrats going into the 2008 Presidential campaign and renders at least superficial evidence that the underlying current of sentiment among the majority of Americans remains Republican-leaning conservative.
Indeed, it was not conservatism or even perhaps neo-conservatism that the voters rejected in the rout of Republicans on November 7 of this year; instead, it was the incumbents who were implementing conservative policies who were thrown out of office.
No doubt, a sound argument can be made that the results of a single Quinnipiac University poll should not be used to make some sweeping statement about current, general voter sentiments. On the other hand, it is no less a sweeping statement to declare that the very same electorate that twice put a man like George W. Bush into the Oval Office has somehow in two short years had a fundamental change of mind about what constitutes desirable qualities in a President. To assume that a welcome transformation of the majority of Americans toward progressivism is underway is folly. Far more likely, the majority is looking for what George W. Bush was supposed to be as a conservative that he failed to be in that role.
Should that be what was truly behind the Democratic gains in November, the outlook is bleak. Republicans could very well hold the White House in 2008 and might even re-capture either the House or the Senate then. Any reciprocating "warmth of sentiment" Democrats might have toward the majority of voters right now must be tempered by the real possibility that a care-taker Congress has been put into place while the electorate sorts out which purveyor of Right-wing policies can best achieve the results Mr. Bush could not. This possibility makes the next two years crucial for the newly elected Democratic majorities in the House and Senate because they will have but 24 monthsjust one session of Congressto do what they can to repair the damage wrought not merely by George W. Bush, but by the politics of a Republican Party that remains incapable of wise, prudent, and responsible governance.
It is altogether possible that the moral and financial mess wrought by the Republicans cannot be undone, but it is the duty of the Democrats to do what they can. Sadly, though, they should not labor under the misimpression that any repair they do will be rewarded by the voters in 2008, at least not as far as the Presidential race is concerned. The majority two years from now will be quite a bit like the majority that put a failed President back in the White House in 2004. To imagine that those voters have really learned their lesson is to ascribe to them something last month's elections did not and certainly could not demonstrate, something the Quinnipiac poll shows is still missing. The people who voted for Mr. Bush have not learned contrition, much less have they become ashamed of themselves for what they did in 2000 and 2004.
There is precious little evidence that the majority of Americans understand that George W. Bush is more than just another failed President: he is, in fact, a failed President they chose, not once, but twice.
It would be nice if someone would bluntly point that out to them.
They the People deserve to be reminded not just of what they've done to this country, but also of what they are for having done it.
The Dark Wraith has spoken.