Praising Bush's message
Questionable Freedoms 2000
Friday afternoon, Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush rode into town like a phantom and left just as quickly — zooming off in his 757 dubbed "Responsibility One" to Detroit. He actually spent less time speaking — 13 minutes — than he did shaking hands and greeting supporters after his speech. Yet his brief visit to South Bend left more than 2,000 people, many of whom were waiting two hours or more on an unseasonably warm October afternoon, energized and eagerly anticipating voting for him next Tuesday.
Most of the electricity coming from the supporters stemmed from the Governor's basic themes: tax cuts targeted at everyone who pays taxes rather than certain people who meet certain qualifications; limited privatization of Social Security so younger workers can invest their own retirement funds and get larger returns; and reforming the educational system "to ensure that no child gets left behind."
The good feeling evident on Friday is hardly a phenomenon limited to South Bend. Not even Indiana, where Bush will likely win by double digits.
It's evident in many of the termed "swing states," many of which are slowly pulling around to the Governor. It's visible in California, where Bush has closed a Gore lead as high as 15 points down to five without spending one second or one dime campaigning in the Golden State in over three months.
It's happening even in the Vice President's home state of Tennessee, where Bush leads by four points in an Oct. 21 poll.
What is this nationwide sensation? Despite the fact that many media outlets and pundits are labeling the race "too close to call" and that we'll all have to "wait and see" for every precinct to report in, it's becoming obvious to even the most nonpartisan observers of this election that Governor Bush is controlling the race and will win, barring a colossal screwup or a massive 11th hour comeback by Gore. But the odds of either of those happening are about as likely as the chances of us seeing the Veep get down to "Who Let The Dogs Out."
From the opinion pages to "Doonesbury," writers are taking it upon themselves to catalog every one of Bush's speaking flubs in a desperate attempt to try to prove to America that `Dubya' somehow doesn't have the brainpower necessary to be commander in chief. They can add one from South Bend: he said, "The government is not the surplus' money," before immediately correcting himself by transposing "government" and "surplus."
As for a ninth inning rally by Gore, he and his army of spinsters have already unloaded just about every trick in their bag. A small handful of Gore supporters at the Bush-fest held up signs demonizing Bush for how he has run Texas (debatable) to the number of criminals executed during his tenure (uh, Gore is also pro-death penalty) to Bob Jones University (old and, plus, I wrote a column in March that annihilated that argument.)
Gore himself has used class warfare, trying to portray himself as a man of the people and Bush as an elitist millionaire. Well, Gore went to Harvard, and is by all accounts a fairly wealthy guy. Gore has attempted to paint Bush and VP candidate Dick Cheney as puppets of Big Oil, capital letters used to emphasize their inherent evilness. But neither Republican candidate has any current ties to the oil industry; Gore owns a bunch of shares of Occidental Petroleum.
Moreover, their experience could help them in dealing with matters of the Persian Gulf; Gore's lack of knowhow was obvious when he thought that a 30 million barrel release of oil would do anything to alleviate the big numbers at the pump or the little numbers at his poll.
Gore has used scare tactics against every one of Bush's issues. Apparently according to Gore, America under a Bush administration would look something like this:
Uneducated children who couldn't benefit from school vouchers because they're not rich would run around in the streets.
Meanwhile, the wealthy would take their massive tax refunds and go skittering around in yachts eating caviar, because everyone knows the rich do nothing to aid the American economy.
Seniors would be forced to take medicine for dogs as representatives from their HMOs would look on and laugh devilishly.
The U.S. government would declare bankruptcy because the "risky schemes" of tax cuts and Social Security reform would drain all of the federal funds.
And poor `Dubya' would be a hostage in the Oval Office to the NRA, Big Tobacco, Big Oil, Big Pharmaceuticals, Big Polluters, Big Business, Big Boy, Big Ben and Big John Studd, while armies from every enemy of the United States march on Washington outside because George has no foreign policy experience and, of course, the fact that Clinton had zip in '92 means nothing.
All of this scheming, definitely backed by a feeling of desperation to avoid being shut out of control by the Republicans, has given Al Gore just enough traction to be noticed by the American populace as an actual human and not the talking slab of Formica he's been portrayed as for the last seven years. This massive mean-spirited demagoguery campaign might have bought Gore a few votes, but his rhetoric and overall demeanor of late has pushed his unfavorable numbers past his favorable rankings in opinion polls. You can't get elected when more people hate you than like you.
Meanwhile, the most vicious Bush ever was Friday was a poke at eight years of unfulfilled promises of President Clinton and Gore on medicare reform: "My opponent says, `You ain't seen nothing yet,' ... and he's right!"
He followed it up with a oft-repeated phrase from the convention: "Mr. Vice President, you've had your chance. You have not led. We will."
America is catching on to George W. Bush's positive and future-oriented message. Al Gore is eight days away from being toast. But at least Joe Lieberman will still be the Senator from Connecticut.
Mike Marchand is an off-campus senior English major. His e-mail address is Marchand.email@example.com.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
All Viewpoint Stories for Monday, October 30, 2000