Just As I Thought

Leading… where?

Here’s an interesting angle on Bush that I hadn’t grasped before: he’s running on being a “strong leader”, but there’s no mention of where he’s led us or where he intends to lead us in the future.

There is apparently not much to George W. Bush’s presidency except his resolve.

Judging by the speeches of Sen. John McCain and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani on the Republican convention’s opening night, the president has no record whatever on matters economic, nor — remarkably for a wartime president — much of one when it comes to conducting the war in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

What the president does have is leadership — pure, undiluted determination, a virtue that transcends such considerations as where exactly he is leading us. At other periods in our history, issues might matter, Giuliani noted, but “in times of danger, as we are now in, Americans should put leadership at the core of their decision.”

… The mayor’s speech was plainly crafted to appeal to a number of swing voter groups, among them blue-collar white males who have borne the brunt of Bushonomics but who just might stick with the president out of some pathetic sense of tough-guy kinship. Giuliani lovingly recalled the bond between Bush and New York construction workers at Ground Zero three days after the Sept. 11 attacks, and earlier in the evening, in a film broadcast at the convention, the leader of a dissident Wisconsin firefighters local told the president, “We are willing to walk into a burning building with you.” Of course, nothing in Bush’s service record, or his cosseted careers in business and politics, suggests that he’d be willing to walk into a burning building with them, but that merely testifies to how effective the marketing of the president’s macho-mindedness may prove to be.

The Wisconsin firefighters are precisely the demographic that the Bush campaign is wooing with its emphasis on the president’s “leadership” and its avoidance of any discussion of his record. For Bush to win, he needs downscale, white, Midwestern males to bond with him nearly as strongly as downscale, white Southern males. There’s a lot these guys will have to overlook to vote for Bush — the exporting of their jobs, and the loss of their health coverage, to name just two — but the decimation of industrial unions in the Midwest has Bush strategists hoping that white guys in Ohio will vote increasingly like their Mississippi counterparts.

It’s not that Bush is resolved to help them better their lives; it’s just that he’s resolved.

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