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Sunday, September 14, 2003
One Man Focus Group

While the election is about 14 months away, I’m getting nervous about current events, and what effect they may ultimately have on Bush’s re-election. Let me get the disclaimers out of the way first, so we don’t have to revisit these points: I fully agree with everything that was posted last week regarding the recovering economy and Bush as a leader, his foreign policy, etc. And I don’t think that any of the Democratic candidates can compare with Bush on either front. And I realize the Democratic candidates beat up on Bush every day, which grabs headlines, and keeps today’s negative aspects in the forefront of the news. And Bush’s numbers were not sustainable over the long-term. And, Reagan’s and Clinton’s numbers were worse at this point in their presidencies than Bush’s. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

However, even without the current headlines and poll numbers, I sense a growing level of dissatisfaction with the Administration on the economy and Iraq. The economy I’m not particularly worried about. It is primarily self-correcting, resilient, and we are making steady progress, which I expect to continue.

The Bush camp is already saying the focus of the campaign will be terrorism. When asked the question “Who will keep you safer? President Bush or any one of the other candidates,” I firmly believe most thoughtful Americans will say President Bush. The Administration displayed a level of control with Afghanistan after 9/11 and going into Iraq – particularly because we did military things deliberately and saw solid results.

Now, things are random in Iraq and Afghanistan, the deficit is large and growing, and the $87 billion Bush asked for is a huge sum that most people are uncomfortable with. I think people used to consider the economy, the deficit, terrorism, and Iraq separately. Lately, I think it’s become apparent that they’re all interrelated, and while no Democratic candidates are getting solid traction (maybe because it’s too early??? (And I don't think Dean has solid traction)), these issues are.

While incremental (meaning non-newsworthy) advances are being made every day in Iraq, we need some dramatic good news on the foreign policy front to show the Bush doctrine is working (and if there’s another remarkable terrorist act in the U.S. anytime soon, I think Bush could be in serious trouble – the Dems will definitely get a foothold).

In conclusion, Bush’s strength, which could become a vulnerability, is in the foreign policy arena. I firmly believe we need good news on the foreign policy front, and we need it fast. The only way to get this, that I can see, is to quickly find and kill (I don’t want them taken into custody) Bin Laden and/or Saddam Hussein.

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