Kirsten's Fan Club
Since September 11, President George W. Bush has enjoyed
phenomenal approval ratings. At no time since the terrorist
attacks have his approvals dipped below 80%, and during the
first strike against the Taliban in early October, they even
reached as high as 92%, according to some reports.
With popularity like this, one would expect our President to
have some extra to pass around. And during yesterday's crucial
gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey, President
Bush's fellow Republicans definitely needed him to share.
Former Attorney General Mark Earley of Virginia and former Mayor
Bret Schundler of Jersey City, New Jersey both lost tough races
to their Democrat opponents on November 6. They were two very
different candidates--Earley, a dull establishment candidate
handpicked by the Republican Party; Schundler, a dynamic
underdog who had to fight his own party to even get on the
ticket. Both ran lackluster races, but so did their (ultimately
Schundler, running in heavily Democrat New Jersey, was
admittedly a longshot for Governor. Despite his warm
personality, TV star looks and history of innovative solutions
to Jersey City's myriad problems, his conservative (and correct)
views on issues like abortion and second amendment rights were
demonized by the media and left-wing interest groups alike.
Further compounding Schundler's problems was his virtual
abandonment by the Republican party in New Jersey. After
Schundler narrowly defeated the party-backed candidate in a
nasty, last minute primary battle, New Jersey Republicans never
seemed to get over the sting of the loss. They remained nearly
silent as Schundler's poll numbers dropped from almost even with
Governor-elect Jim McGreevey�s to a low of 32%. In the final
days before the General Election, prominent Republicans endorsed
him (including outgoing NYC Mayor Rudy Giulani, whose approval
rating must hover somewhere around 110%), but it was too little,
In Virginia, Mark Earley lost to multimillionaire Mark Warner. A
small contributing factor could have been sheer confusion:
Virginia already has a U.S. Senator (John) Warner--in fact,
1996's Senate race featured John Warner vs. Mark Warner. This
time, it was Mark Warner vs. Mark Earley for the Governor's
mansion, and all those duplicate names had to give at least a
few people problems.
Warner ran a deceptive and dirty race from the beginning. This
unctuous cretin ran for office in Virginia before, but as a
liberal Democrat. It took him a bruising defeat in 1996 to
realize that most Virginians do not like, and more importantly,
will not vote for liberal Democrats. So he tried again, this
time for a different seat as a completely different person�a
self-proclaimed fiscal conservative and social moderate. The
only real problem with this seemingly winning strategy is that
it forced him to lie through his teeth throughout the campaign�after
all, this �fiscal conservative� advocated a $900 million tax
hike. But for this Bill Clinton clone disguised as Gray Davis,
lying seems not to present much of a problem at all.
Today is a sad day for both New Jersey and Virginia. For New
Jersey, this is a lost opportunity to bring fresh, intelligent
ideas to a state widely viewed as a bastion of political
corruption. In Virginia, Mark Warner will at best be a dark
blemish on an otherwise (mostly) freedom-loving Old Dominion.
Both of these local tragedies could have been averted by one
man: President Bush. There are those who argue that our
President has better things to do--we are, after all, "at
war." But our President was not so busy that he could not
find time to fly to New York and throw the first (okay, really
great) pitch at Game 3 of the World Series. And one newspaper
recently ran a story detailing all the recreational activities
the President has made time for at Camp David each and every
weekend since September 11.
No one begrudges the President his badly needed leisure time,
but surely he could have spared one recent weekend to stump for
a couple of fellow Republicans. Time could not have been an
issue--a flight from Andrews AFB to Newark takes about an hour,
and Virginia is literally down the street from the White House.
Neither lack of time nor previous engagements caused President
Bush to effectively leave Schundler and Earley twisting in the
wind. The real reason for Bush's public silence concerning these
two candidates seems to be his penchant for bipartisanship.
Rather than anger his liberal adversaries by playing partisan
politics, President Bush let the GOP down quietly. These are the
games that made him popular in Texas, and they are the games
that keep him popular now. But popularity is not
everything--even Bush's one-term father once enjoyed 90%
approval ratings. Popularity is a commodity, just like money. It
matters not how much you have, but what you do with it.
Kirsten's Fan Club
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