Stephen Green continues to be annoyed with Bush’s profligate spending and pandering:

Bush’s father tried these same stunts in 1992, and it got him laughed at by the Democrats in Congress, and essentially zero votes from Democrats in the election that year.

He was seen as a fool to be taken advantage of by the other side, and as a fool, period, by the voters. And we all know how he fared in the election — he’d so alienated his base that many Republicans either stayed home or voted for Perot.

There’s no Perot this time around (or at least not yet), but you can bet that if Bush doesn’t change his ways, more than a few voters will simply sit on their asses come Election Day.

I agree that these tactics are unlikely to convert any true liberals. But, honestly, I’m not sure how much of a “base” true fiscal conservatives are. Especially when the likely opponents–Kerry? Edwards?–are likely to be even more irresponsible.

The two constituencies that most matter to Bush are people like who put security #1 and the social conservatives. Bush has done a damned good job at keeping both happy. His dad, by contrast, was cutting the defense budget, raising taxes, and appointing milquetoast judges.

FILED UNDER: 2004 Election, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. James, at my site I answered with:

    Bush’s problem won’t be with voters like James and me, it will be with those who only lean towards the war and/or fiscal conservatives. By November, 9/11 will be more than three years in the past and, barring another major attack, most Americans will be feeling pretty safe. “War voters” just might not exist in the numbers necessary to ensure a Bush win.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Could well be. It’s a tricky campaign tactic, anyway, to simultaneously argue “Vote for me, because I’ve made you safe” and “It’s not safe to turn it over to this clown.”

  3. jaxon says:

    “the likely opponents–Kerry? Edwards?–are likely to be even more irresponsible.”

    Just wondering what this comment is based on? Track records in the Senate? I’m not sure that you can easily label Kerry/Edwards as such. As a campaign tactic, I doubt the Bush team will try to paint either of these two irresponsible with the purse strings.

  4. James Joyner says:


    You’re kidding, right? I mean, even if they weren’t spendthrifts, they’d be portrayed that way in a campaign!

  5. Paul says:

    I dunno, Bush 41 lost because as George Will put it, Clinton was elected, “when national security competence had receded as the threshold test of presidential plausibility.”

    A large hunk of people were changed forever on 9/11 in that department. If it is only 1 voter per 100 that makes a landslide compared to 2000.

  6. jaxon says:


    I’m not sure that Bush looks for a fight about keeping spending down with anyone right now. His own track record over the last three years isn’t something to be proud of, so casting attention that way doesn’t seem a likely proposition.

    Just saying that it isn’t likely to be a campaign issue brought up by Bush/Cheney. It doesn’t seem to have traction.

  7. James Joyner says:


    I’m thinking mainly in terms of a counter-attack if the try to paint him as fiscally irresponsible.

  8. Joe Kelley says:

    “Especially when the likely opponents–Kerry? Edwards?–are likely to be even more irresponsible.”

    Except, with a GOP Congress, at least we can expect gridlock. Edwards or Kerry won’t be able to spend money without Congressional approval. Even though the GOP Congress rubber stamps Bush’s liberal spending, they surely won’t do the same for Kerry or Edwards.

  9. Paul says:

    I’m as right-wing as they come but:

    If Bush loses the election and the Republicans hold congress then they complain about Kerry’s spending, they are going to look like idiots.

    I understand the whys and the hows of why the deficit has been bigger under Republicans. Much of it was timing. (cold war, war on terror vs internet boom etc) BUT the facts remain that we do a whole lot of complaining about spending but not a whole lot to stop it.

  10. Boyd says:

    “If Bush loses the election and the Republicans hold congress then they complain about Kerry’s spending, they are going to look like idiots.”

    You mean kinda like when they hemmed and hawwed over Clinton’s judicial appointments, and then whined when the Democrats filibustered Bush’s appointments?

    Members of Congress are so ego-inflated, they don’t believe they can ever look like idiots, despite the fact that they manage to do it on a daily basis.

    I’m an Equal Opportunity Contempt Spewer. 🙂

  11. Paul says:

    No I don’t mean that.

    Many of Clinton’s appointees had little problems like tax evasion of other felonies on their record. Those were the folks the Republicans did not rubber stamp.

    What the Dems did by requiring 60 votes for confirmation was simply unconscionable. 

    Actually if you want the right analogy it looks like this:

    If Bush loses the election and the Republicans filibuster Kerry’s appointments then the Dems whine about it THEY will look like idiots.

    Have no fear. The next Dem President will have a hell of a time with his appointments. And the Dems will want to whine about it, but they earned it.

    Equal Opportunity or not, at least get your facts right. 🙂