If you haven’t yet, please read the first hand account of Rex Hammock’s meeting with President Bush before reading this. In it, Hammock says the following:
Bottom line: If George W. Bush could spend 25 minutes chatting with everybody in America like he did with me and five other folks today, he would win any election by a landslide.
For what it’s worth, I think this is actually true of just about any politician. How do you think politicians get people to donate millions of dollars to their campaigns? As long as a person isn’t dead set against them, they can probably win them over one on one. That’s the key job skill for a career in politics. That said, I think it’s important for people who don’t want to see Bush reelected to mull that sentence over a few times. It’s easy for me and for most other critics of the administration to fall into the trap where we think of Bush as an out and out bad person.
Back in November 2002, I watched a documentary called Journeys with George, a network producer’s video diary of her time spent with the 2000 Bush campaign. In it, Bush comes across as quite likeable. It doesn’t surprise me that Hammock came away feeling exactly the same.
So I think the key for people who want to see Bush lose is to avoid calling Bush evil, or a fascist, or whatever, and focus on his bad policies and the bad direction he’s taken this country in. Is Bush evil? I don’t think so. Is he wrong nearly all of the time. Yes he is. Take a look at Hammock’s account. Bush spoke to them about how making the tax cuts permanent would help them out and then went out to an audience and explained how hard it is for businesses to plan when the tax code is constantly changing. This entire argument is predicated on the idea that the audience has forgotten that it was the Bush administration that put sunset provisions in for most of the tax cuts to make the future deficit implications seem less bad, even though he intended to later propose that all of the sunset provisions be removed.
There’s a lot more to being a good President than being the type of guy who’s fun to watch a football game with. The thing that scares me is that if Democrats take the tack of demonizing President Bush in this campaign, they’ll only appeal to people who already think Bush is a demon. To mangle a phrase Christians frequently use, the better plan for success is to love the politician and hate the politics, at least when it comes to President Bush.