Ramesh Ponnuru


Alex Aichinger
Kirsten Andersen
Brent Barksdale
Jim Couture
Andrew Downey
Natalie Farr
Joe Giardiello
Bret Hrbek
Sang Mi Kim
Ramesh Ponnuru
Tom Scerbo
Dorothy Seese
Jason Soter

Senate Candidate Bob Franks of New Jersey

Myriam Marquez is a columnist for the Orlando Sentinel

No Respect

Some of the great mistakes political parties make are ones they cannot help making. Republicans canít help themselves from bashing ďunion bosses,Ē although hostility to them does not bring many voters to the polls; they and everyone they know dislike unions so much that they assume itís an effective tactic. Democrats, similarly, attack Republicans for being pro-life and pro-gun, although there is a fair amount of evidence that those issues mobilize conservatives more than they do liberals. They canít help themselves; itís who they are.

The Democrats may be making another mistake: not taking George W. Bush seriously enough. In their attacks on him, they positively drip with disdain. And this disdain is not merely feigned, the better to persuade voters that Bush is a numbskull; itís more visceral than that. Iíve heard a number of Democratic strategists, both in public and in private, say that Bush is a lightweight, a punk, a little nothing, and that as soon as voters size him up heíll tumble.

Liberal journalists, too, are dismissive of Bush. The New Republic began a recent editorial thus: ďGeorge W. Bush has an idea about American nuclear strategy. His idea has exceedingly little merit. . .Ē It continues in this vein: ďThe plan was that the governorís proximity to Henry Kissinger would confer upon him the appearance of reflection. The plan failed. . . . He looked and sounded small.Ē The New Republic, meanwhile, sounds both ponderous and bitchy.

Itís not a politically appealing timbre. Voters might be persuaded that Bushís nuclear plan is a bad idea, but they are not going to be persuaded that itís smoke and mirrorsónow when it has the backing of Kissinger and Colin Powell. Nor are they going to follow Gore in concluding from Bushís ideas on taxes and Social Security that he doesnít have the maturity to be president. Insouciant Bush may be, but dumb he isnít.

All Bush has to do to overcome this particular Democratic strategy is to keep his cool under fire. If it helps, he might recall that they didnít respect Ronald Reagan, either.

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