09/26/2004: "Bush Srís Problem was that He was Too Competent"
Bush Jr. has clearly learned some lessons from Bush Sr. First, Dubya picked up the trick of saying that your opponent is a waffler, as GHWB put it about Clinton. W also learned that war is a good way to get poll numbers up. In both cases, Bush and Bush enjoyed astronomical approval ratings during invasions and their immediate aftermath. There is one final lesson that 43 learned from 41: donít let your war end. He clearly knows that Americans donít like changing leaders during a war. Has it ever really happened? Iím drawing a blank. Vietnam doesnít count because Johnson took himself out of the running. Had he not taken the quagmire of his war seriously (as opposed to, say, the current Commander in Chief), he might have won. Junior (and certainly Karl) are able to recognize Bush the Elderís huge mistake: he let his war wind down before reelection. Had it been the mess that Iraq is now, voters could very well have stuck with him for all the same reasons many are sticking with Bush II. Of course, itís overly cynical to say that the current war is being intentionally extended. The real difference is that Bush I was competent in his conduct of his war in Iraq, in contrast to Bush IIís. Wouldnít it be ironic if incompetence turns out to be the deciding factor in the number of terms won between father and son?