For the 2004 presidential election, it appears Democrats are putting all their presidential prospect eggs in just two baskets, anti-Bush and antiwar.
In a sense, you can understand their strategy. They are in a bit of a spot here. The war happens to be what's most important to people, and President Bush is leading it. They can scarcely avoid these issues, yet their complete and honest airing will inevitably hurt their chances. It would be like the Democrats decrying the demise of traditional values.
On the one hand, the public trusts Bush; on the other, there seems to be a bottomless reservoir of animosity toward Bush among the Democrats' rank and file, and we all know the axioms about playing to your party's base during the primary season.
Adding to this pressure is a recent New York Times report saying that honchos from both parties have begun to reassess presidential political strategy and now believe that the most important factor for each of the parties will be to turn out their core voters. "Americans who move between the parties -- known as swing voters," says the Times, "are being overshadowed by a growing and very motivated base of Republican and Democratic loyalists."
So by design and necessity, and recent news that the economy is picking up the pace, the Democrats are primarily targeting Bush and the war. If you were Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe, how would you like to be in that position?
Think about it: You have concluded that to win the White House you have to discredit and slander President Bush and undermine his performance in the War on Terror.
Note that I didn't say, "You have to show that your Democratic candidate could do a better job than President Bush handling the War on Terror." The Democrats can't credibly maintain that they could do better. They have no solutions, just endless, contrived complaints.
No, since Bush is doing an objectively good job and because people generally trust him, especially with national security matters, the Democrats have to find a way to undercut the public's trust in him. Do you realize what a tall order that is? It's not as though President Bush has a scintilla of those negative characteristics that defined Bill Clinton. Democrats have had to make them up, manufacturing out of whole cloth artificial issues and fairytales about Bush's deceit. In the process, they are unmasking their own deceit.