Jejudo, South Korea
Why shouldn't Bush be reelected? Without going through an endless list, I'll try to look at three points, I hope, quickly:
1. Most people, perhaps, would regard the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq as successes and that's fair enough. But those of us who harbored reservations or a more nuanced approach to these events, have always been worried about what happens after we win. Fukuyama, here:
makes the claim that much of what is going on is the result of an administration unwilling to come to terms with its own ambitions.
Other factors include the national debt and constitutional problems, but it seems fairly clear that the Bush administration is not particularly adept at handling, well, administration. I'll add some stuff later concerning the recent Supreme Court issues and the IMF censure.
2. Which leads us to the issue of image. Many have pointed out to me that they see Bush as tough talking, no-nonsense kind of guy and that's what they like. Few of these same people, however, seemed to have noticed the constant backpedaling that goes on, must necessarily go on, in order to play the game of politics. As I write this, Colin Powell has an essay in "Foreign Affairs" arguing that the Bush administration is not trying to 'go it alone' but to actively involve other nations in their goals. In principle, I see nothing wrong with this type of manuevering, but what it shows is that the Bush administration is as political as they come.
So, are people being duped?
Two more quick points: First, the Supreme Court is going to listen to arguments concerning constitutional infringements by this administration and, while we don't know the outcome of this, it at least shows concern for, or the lack of concern from, this administration's view of the constitution. Second, I think image is important. A good image is extremely useful in getting the nuts and bolts kind of cooperation to get what you want done done. Bush just doesn't seem very good at doing this. Proof? Well, Talk to a non-American and see what they say (No, it is not all rabid hate, but most people I've talked to don't see him as particularly competent).
A quick example of this is Rumsfield's comment concerning British involvement in Iraq. It is factually true that we didn't 'need' the British in order to topple the regime, but politically what is the point of making such a statement? Is it stupid or xenophobic? I simply don't see a positive spin here.
Krugman, Herbert, here:
and Kinsley (not here) have described this administration as radical. I may have to go into more detail later on this, but suffice to say is that this administration is unpredictable. The rest of the world simply doesn't know what it's going to do next.
3. A minor point but truly bizarre:
Why in the world would the first lady lie about a bad poem? Since when did being stupid become a positive point for being the leader of the most powerful country in the world?