With no serious democratic competition on the horizon here until next summer’s predicted Westminster elections, Chris Stalford looks to the next parish west, and reckons the Bush candidacy is looking like a shoe-in, particularly in the face of a lack lustre campaign from John Kerry.By Christopher Stalford
Following on the back of last weeks Republican National Convention it seems as though the character of the US Presidential election has changed. A race that was a dead heat between the two leading candidates has been transformed overnight into George W Bush’s election to lose. Having consistently trailed John Kerry by one or two points for the last three months, the President has opened up a commanding ten point lead in the most recent opinion polls. History records that anyone leading in the polls at this stage in the campaign goes on to win the White House.
The contrast between the two candidates could not be clearer. Bush, whatever else his opponents might say about him has a remarkable talent for connecting with people – his earthy, almost folksy image stands in sharp contrast to the Massachusetts Senator. Mr. Kerry was educated at a Swiss boarding school. He married his first wife (estimated worth: $300million) only to divorce her and marry another one, (estimated worth: more than $1billion) and spends a large part of his time in Nantucket, playground of the rich and famous.
The sheer level of Kerry’s (unearned) wealth is higher than many third world countries. Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped the Senator from supplementing his enormous fortune through his possession of political office. Despite Democrat accusations that President Bush is a hostage to special interest groups such as the oil companies and the National Rifle Association (NRA), John Kerry has consistently topped the poll for accepting money from Washington lobbyists. This was a point made repeatedly by Senator John Edwards, when he was running against Kerry for the Democratic nomination – unsurprisingly Edwards is a little less willing to talk about it now he has thrown his lot in with him.
While there is still obvious disquiet in the USA over the situation in Iraq, Bush has been able to effectively close it down as a vote winner for the Democrats by pointing up Kerry’s inconsistency over the topic. Having voted to give the President the power to go to war, Senator Kerry then voted against extra resources being set aside to pay for equipment such as body armour, medicine and ammunition for the troops in the field. This changing of minds has earned him the nickname “flip-flop Kerry”.
This week Bush went on the attack saying “After voting for the war, but against funding it, after saying he would have voted for the war even knowing everything we know today, my opponent woke up this morning with yet another new position. Suddenly he’s against it again. No matter how many times Senator Kerry changes his mind, it was right for America and it’s right for America now that Saddam Hussein is no longer in power”.
Having said that, the principal difficulty that Kerry faces in his campaign to overthrow President Bush is the economy. Recent independent figures show that the period of economic sluggishness has come to an end, jobs are being created and the economy is showing signs of upturn. Bush has pioneered bi-partisan education reform during his first term and is championing home-ownership in this campaign – it is hard therefore to see where exactly Kerry can score serious points off the President. My prediction? Four more years!
First published in the Newsletter on Saturday 11th September 2004
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty