Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Wednesday | August 21, 2002

Iraq story won't distract from economy

Democrats have sounded alarmed lately about the Iraq debate, worried that it will distract from the economy come election time. Let's assume the Iraq story, even without an actual honest-to-goodness invasion, still has legs. That's not necessarily a given, considering the press' short attention span. But let's make that assumption.

Would the American public

  1. be so distracted by the war talk that it would forget the nation's dire economic straits? and

  2. would voters respond to said war talk by voting GOP?

Let's think about this. Nov 4, 2001. The US had just been viciously hit by a terrorist attack. Emotions were running high, Bush had approval ratings in the high 90s, and the nation was gearing up for a real, JUSTIFIED war. Given those facts, it would stand to reason that the voters would have rallied behind the president's party. Yet, the exact opposite happened.

The Dems picked up two previously GOP governorships, in NJ and heavily Republican Virginia. They also captured over a dozen mayorships from the GOP in some of the nation's largest cities (including LA, San Antonio and El Paso), as well as two state legislatures (NJ and WA). The Dems did not lose a single office they controlled. Indeed, the only race of national import Republicans were able to win was the NYC mayor's office, and Bloomberg ran and governed to the left of Giuliani.

All this less than two months after 9-11.

So, even while the nation rallied around the president, pocketbook issues dominated the 2001 elections, and nothing indicates 2002 will be any different. Indeed, 2001 was pre-Enron, Halliburton, Harken, WorldCom, and stock market crash. There are more unemployed and underemployed now than in 2001. More people think the country is headed in the wrong direction now than in November 2001.

And, the president's veneer of competence wore off months ago (along with his high approval ratings). So much for any presidential coattails.

Fact is, while Democrats have been AWOL in the national debate on Iraq, their absence has immunized them against charges of being weak on terrorism. On the question of Gulf War II, there is less differentiation between Bush and the Democrats than between Bush and the more rational half of his party.

And if bombs start flying prior to the first Tuesday in November? It would make no difference. The economy will trump all. Undoubtedly.

Posted August 21, 2002 09:15 PM | Comments (1)


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