Bush’s Briar Patch

Whether by serendipity or calculation, President Bush has the opportunity to change his mind on two issues that, were he to do so, would redound decidedly to his political benefit.

  • For reasons inexplicable from a tactical standpoint, he is resisting pressure to let Ralph Nader in the presidential debates, insisting on going mano-a-mano with John Kerry. LetNaderDebate.org is taking out BlogAds in various places (such as Dan Drezner‘s site) trying to get people to write letters to Bush demanding that Nader be allowed in. I say he should relent. While it’s true that this would result in a 2 vs. 1 contest ideologically, raising Nader’s credibility can only help Bush get re-elected.
  • Bush is refusing to call Congress back from their traditional recess to debate and enact intelligence reform. Now that John Kerry has called for, nay, demanded, that he do so, Bush should relent, even giving Kerry credit for helping him change his mind. He then forces his opponent to either spend valuable campaigning time sitting around committee rooms or to skip these meetings–that he called for!–to go campaigning. Either way, Bush wins.
FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Len says:

    The senator with the greatest AWOL record in Congress wants the President to call the members back from vacation?

  2. McGehee says:

    Kerry’s campaign goes better when he’s not campaigning. If he goes back to the Senate to actually earn his paycheck, he’ll finally start getting his post-convention bounce.

  3. legion says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Nader will take more votes from the Repubs than he took from the Dems in 2000. Take a look at his ballot “strategy” – the only reason he’s even on the ballot in many places is because of the overt support of the local GOP.

    Tell me, someone, how Nader isn’t a second GOP nominee for President?

    Putting him on-stage next to GW will only underline his stature as a “republican lite” (this cycle, anyway… he was a “dem lite” in 2000). I still believe Nader will be the “protest vote” candidate for Repubs who don’t want to vote for Bush.

  4. James Joyner says:

    Tell me, someone, how Nader isn’t a second GOP nominee for President?

    Because he’s a candidate of the Left that agrees with the Democrats and disagrees with the Republicans on virtually every issue of public policy?

    And, news flash, most of the GOP “support” for Nader is support for a spoiler candidate to siphon votes away from Kerry, not “support” in the sense that they are actually going to vote for him.

  5. vdibart says:

    “most of the GOP “support” for Nader is support for a spoiler candidate ”

    Precisely. In the end, that’s a tactic that’s going to turn off a lot of middle-of-the-road liberal types that would have voted for Nader to stick it to Kerry. Or so the current theory goes, and I think it has legs.

  6. legion says:

    I gotta figure out how to use that “sarcasm” tag in HTML… 🙂

    I’m well aware that the GOP’s support of Nader is as a spoiler; the point I was trying to make is that it’s so transparent I believe it will backfire on them. Doubly, in fact – pushing more Dems to vote for Kerry & giving Repubs a way to say “Bush doesn’t really represent me”.

  7. Boyd says:

    I don’t follow your logic, legion. First you say that Republicans only support Nader as a spoiler, to take votes away from Kerry, but the GOP support of Nader’s efforts will encourage Republicans to vote for Kerry instead of the President.

    My mind’s spinning.

    At any rate, with all due respect to the good Doctor, I disagree with James that either of his proposed efforts would result in a measurable increase in votes for President Bush. Neither one strikes me as sufficiently critical. But I’m known to be politically naïve at times.

  8. Kathy K says:

    They should let the Libertarian candidate in too. He’s such a wingnut that it would likely move some of the Libertarians over to Republican. And it would at least make the debates fun to listen to.

    Oh… and I did vote Libertarian in 2000. I will not be doing so (at least nationally) in 2004.

  9. legion says:

    Your first bit is right on – Nader is only being supported by the GOP because of his potential to suck blue votes up. My point is that I think the GOP is mistaken – I think the only people that will vote for Nader this time around are people who might otherwise vote for Bush (or wouldn’t vote for either Bush or Kerry under any circumstances anyway…).

  10. Boyd says:

    It doesn’t make sense to me that Republicans would vote for Nader. Right-leaning independents, maybe (but if so, not many). But Republicans? I just can’t see that happening.

  11. Joseph Marshall says:

    I think George is right on this one James.

    Nader is only likely to get the absolutely most dissatisfied “progressive” or “leftist” vote and much smaller numbers of it than in 2000. That is the real meaning of the incredible rank and file discipline of the Democrats this year.

    As a spoiler candidate he is maxed out once he is on as many ballots as possible, so why give him a platform while two fine gentlemen from Yale have a sporting flutter?

    Those Republican Reps and Senators are far more useful in the boonies, talking to constituencies they know well, about what a great leader the President is. By definition, they have proven by election to be liked well enough to be listened to. And, of course, half the Reps and one-third of the Senators have races of their own to run.