November 1, 2003

We couldn't express what was bothering us...

I saw this in Polipundit

[here he's quoting the NYT ] ....If he's right, there will be reason for celebration in the White House. It could even turn out that the difference between the two Presidents Bush was a matter of timing as much as anything else.

The 1990-91 recession ended in February 1991. Almost two years later, in January 1993, came the report of the first quarter to show growth above 5 percent. The 2001 recession ended in November 2001, and once again a report of a good quarter arrived nearly two years later.

Unfortunately for George H. W. Bush, he had lost his race for re-election before the economic news turned positive. Now, strong growth has appeared a year before the 2004 election. George W. Bush had good reason to call yesterday's growth report "encouraging."

[back to Polipundit ] There's another crucial difference between Bush 1 and Bush 2: Bush 1 raised taxes; Bush 2 cut them. The resulting GDP growth was no coincidence.
My own theory, until recently, was that Bush 1 lost because the Gulf War left him with a lot of political capital, and he didn't use it! He had tremendous approval ratings, and he could surely have accomplished some notable thing, or enacted some needed reform. But he just sat there fat 'n happy, and did nothing. I'm still annoyed about it.

But I think now that there was another reason. Americans don't like limited war. That is, of course, one of the bedrock positions of the Jacksonian strain in American life. But in this case I think there is a little Jackson in most Americans. We are reluctant to go to war, or to get involved in foreign messes. But If something is worth going to war about, then we think we should do whatever it takes to win, and to make sure the problem is solved.

After the Gulf War we were proclaiming victory from the housetops. It would have been hard for anyone to even entertain the thought that we hadn't won. But I suspect that was the thought just below the surface of many minds. We had flung our strength and treasure and enthusiasm on the desert sands, and like water it had sunk in and disappeared. And nothing was changed.

We couldn't really express what was bothering us, so we said we were down on Bush because he broke his promise not to raise taxes, or because the economy was blah...

Posted by John Weidner at November 1, 2003 3:11 PM
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