Burdened with a candidate who is stiff, unable to take and hold one position on any issue, and whose 20-year record of performance in the U.S. Senate is so thin that it can’t be used to his benefit, the only chance Democrats have to win this election is to demean and beat down the incumbent. They have chosen to do this by using the Iraq war as the centerpiece, mixing some valid points with 20/20 hindsight and revised history, and trying to sell the idea that the economy is in the tank by twisting reality into knots.
The trouble with creating fiction and selling it is, as the President might say, “it is hard work.” It requires the Democrats to ignore or forget inconvenient facts and stubborn bits of reality that contradict the message they are trying to communicate, and getting the audience to do the same.
Take as an example the Iraq war. To sell the idea that this war was “the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time,” as Sen. John Kerry is so fond of saying, you have to forget that the whole world thought, as Mr. Bush, did that Saddam Hussein had WMD and was developing nuclear weapons. Among those who held that belief are John Kerry, his running mate Sen. John Edwards, and his mentor Sen. Ted Kennedy, a substantial majority of the U.S. Congress, and the United Nations. You must ignore that Saddam had thumbed his nose at the U.N. and it’s several resolutions telling him to disarm. You have to believe that, as Mr. Kerry said in the debates, even though terrorists are streaming across the borders into Iraq, Iraq is not part of the War on Terrorism. As tough a sell as that ought to be, the Democrats are continuing to try to sell it.
To defeat Mr. Bush it is also necessary to characterize our economy as poor and blame it on Mr. Bush. This requires pretending that the terrorist attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001 had only temporary and short-lived effects on the U.S. economy. Direct blows were dealt to two U.S. industries, insurance and airlines, and travel and tourism, and other businesses have suffered due to increased scrutiny of business visa applications.
The attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center and nearby commercial buildings in New York and damaged the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., have resulted in an estimated $30 to $35 billion being paid in damages and claims over the past three years. The estimate for Sept. 11 is equal to the total insurance costs of the 10 most damaging hurricanes ever to strike the United States, with the exclusion of Charley and Frances, which recently struck Florida.
In the months immediately following the attacks, the airlines suffered from a precipitous drop in passengers, as the whole world opted to fly less after the attacks. Now three years later, the airline industry still struggles with the ramifications of that day.
The travel and tourism industry also suffered a huge drop in business after Sept. 11. Further, a June 2004 study found that US companies suffered $30.7 billion in financial impacts between July 2002 and March 2004 due to delays/denials in the processing of business visas.
Despite these huge blows to the economy, much to the chagrin of the Democrats things are going pretty well. But in order to defeat George Bush, the Democrats must tell a different story. So they focus on total job losses compared with total job gains, and tell voters that 1.6 million net jobs were lost by the Bush administration. Even if that number was accurate – and it isn’t – you simply have to concede that some of those lost jobs are due to the 9/11 attacks, not the policies of the Bush administration. However, the real number, when the final numbers are in next February, is estimated to be around 600,000, about one-third of what Mr. Kerry claims. Nevertheless, the unemployment rate stands at 5.4 percent, the same number that Bill Clinton bragged about during his reelection bid in 1996.
Other economic indicators include housing starts, productivity, personal income, and employment, which are all higher, and unemployment and the Consumer Price Index, which are lower. Interest rates are still low, despite a recent hike. All in all, the economy is not so bad.
So we wait now to see what fairy tales the Democrats will offer up next to try to defeat George Bush. So far, they have been imaginative, but unconvincing.