Reality Rolls In
As Political Animal Kevin Drum pointed out earlier this week, these are tough times for those administration spinners who are trying to convince the country that the bluebird of happiness is sitting on George W. Bush's shoulder. Day after day, BC04 upbeat talk about Iraq, past, present, and future, is getting hammered by reality. The polls have turned on W. The resolute, confident commander-in-chief we saw in New York morphed into a self-parody in last week's debate. The Republican Congress is about to go home in a blaze of pork and ethics scandals, having accomplished less than any Congress in recent history.
And to top it off, today's Final Job Numbers confirm that Bushonomics has basically deployed a couple of trillion dollars in deficit spending to produce a tepid and shaky recovery characterized by wage stagnation and rising insecurity.
This is the reality that Bush must try to distort, explain, or ignore in tonight's debate. I suspect his performance tonight won't be as bad as the last. The president's handlers have undoubtedly retrained him in that lip-pursing thing he uses to suppress the frat-boy smirk that reappeared so alarmingly in the first debate. Maybe the town-hall format will enable him to show off his famous rapport with regular guys.
But my guess is that Bush will go savagely negative on Kerry tonight, packing the best sound-bite put-downs money can buy. With the reality of the Bush record beginning to roll in like a toxic fog, making the election a referendum on his opponent is about the last play left for George W. Bush.