What the US papers say about Bush's win

"People say George Bush is a cowboy. Well, what's a cowboy but a guy
in a white hat, getting things done for the downtrodden? People say he
shoots quick. Well, listen, sometimes you have to do that, you have to
be decisive. Kerry never projected that." (A Republican voter from
Columbus, Ohio)

"POP STAR" - The front page of the New York Post.

Many Republicans would scoff at the notion that the New York Times has
any idea why middle America turned out for George Bush. You might as
well try to sell a holiday home to a Manhattan shrink. Just 16% of
voters in Manhattan and the Bronx voted for George Bush. But the paper
is shocked enough by the result to put the red states on the couch and
let them talk about what bothers them and why they backed the

"In interviews around the country, people returned frequently to words
like faith, family, integrity and trust," the paper says. "Experts
will gnaw for years on the question of why Mr Bush won and Mr Kerry
lost. But the voices of American voters the day after the election
fairly shouted that the outcome was not about electoral tactics or
issues, but about a fundamental question of character."

It is a similar story on Salon, where Andrew Leonard wonders whether he
should have spent less time reading liberal blogs and more time
listening to conservatives: "Perhaps if I'd spent less time at Daily
Kos and more time talking to people who live in Alabama I'd have been
less surprised by the election results. And perhaps I'd be better
prepared to deal with them."

And the right-wing press, naturally, agree. "President Bush won the
White House because he understands it's hip to be square," writes
Deborah Orin in the New York Post. "Bush knows what he stands for and
connects with mainstream Americans across a cultural divide that
Democrat John Kerry just can't reach. The president won re-election far
from the fancy Manhattan dinner tables where pampered liberals love to
ridicule him as a dummy, out in rural and ex-urban areas where
Americans still think it's right to talk about loving God and country."

And the love of a man for a woman. The Washington Post makes a
reasonably convincing case for the theory that opposition to gay
marriage was what swung this election. (Twenty-two percent of Americans
interviewed in exit polls said "moral values" were the most important
issue for them, according to CNN.)

Sure, says the New York Times, but what we need right now is
compromise. "The evidence in the polling data that these social issues
were crucial to Mr. Bush's win - and that the bulk of those infrequent
voters who stood in line for hours to vote were evangelicals, not
people against the war - is pretty inescapable.

"But we were struck by the broad majority of voters who told pollsters
that they favoured a middle approach on these issues: providing gay
couples with the right to have some kind of civil unions, and
guaranteeing women the right to legal abortions in most, if not all,
cases. This page will never give up our commitment to women's right to
reproductive choice, as well as full civil rights for people of all
sexual orientations. But a leader who was prepared to make political
sacrifices in order to stake a claim to that middle ground could be
laying the foundation for a new national consensus that might finally
bring the nation's social wars to an end." That means not picking an
"ultra-extreme" nominee for the supreme court, the paper says.

In short: Don't ride roughshod over our beliefs, and don't think that
we're not prepared to stand up for them. "A downside of the resounding
Republican victory is that there will be no effective voice in the
political process for the 48% of American voters - and the roughly 98%
of non-Americans - who are sceptical of Bush's policies," writes Max
Boot in the LA Times. "The president could ignore the doubters, as he
did in his first term, but it would be wiser to bring them into the
tent by appointing a prominent Democrat to his war cabinet."

David Wessel of the Wall Street Journal thinks he sees a way for George
Bush to knit together the "moral" agenda and the ballooning budget
deficit in people's minds. Mr Bush thinks tax cuts are a moral good, he
says: "There simply aren't enough Republicans on Capitol Hill who buy
the economic arguments about the harm deficits do." Will the president
pursue his first-term agenda or "drop his don't-worry-be-happy economic
rhetoric and lead Republicans to lasting, prudent repairs to Social
Security, Medicare and taxes before the first baby boomers claim their
cheques in 2008?"

Many Democrats are already wondering who might be able to lead them to
victory in 2008. Despite her liberal credentials and the fact that
around one-third of voters point-blank loathe her, Hillary Clinton -
perhaps with Barack Obama, the black Illinois senator, as her running
mate - is the New York Times's tip. Slate's William Saletan says they
the party needs a southerner with charisma. In other words, John

But if you want sheer, helpless, get-me-a-visa-to-Canada panic, start
with Thomas Friedman's Two Nations Under God - "Well, as Grandma used
to say, at least I still have my health" - and move on to the scourge
of US conservatives, Maureen Dowd.

"The president says he's 'humbled' and wants to reach out to the whole
country. What humbug. The Bushes are always gracious until they don't
get their way. If W didn't reach out after the last election, which he
barely grabbed, why would he reach out now that he has what Dick Cheney
calls a 'broad, nationwide victory'? ... 'He'll be a lot more
aggressive in Iraq now,' one Bush insider predicts. 'He'll raze Falluja
if he has to. He feels that the election results endorsed his version
of the war.' Never mind that the more insurgents American troops kill,
the more they create ...

"Seeing the exit polls, the Democrats immediately started talking about
values and religion. Their sudden passion for wooing southern white
Christian soldiers may put a crimp in Hillary's 2008 campaign. (Nothing
but a wooden stake would stop it.) Meanwhile, the blue puddle is
comforting itself with the expectation that this loony bunch will
fatally overreach, just as Newt Gingrich did in the 90s.

"But with this crowd, it's hard to imagine what would constitute

"Invading France?"

Ros Taylor Thursday November 4, 2004

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