Culture Wars: Pattern of Desperate Bushes

Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson pushes the envelope in this savage attack on President Bush — both of them. And I have to say, he makes some damned good points.

This is the way that Bushes run for president when they fall behind: They plunge us into culture wars.

It was only when Poppy Bush fell behind Michael Dukakis in the summer of ’88 that he made an issue of Willie Horton and the Pledge of Allegiance. It was only when George W. fell behind John McCain in the winter of 2000 that he went to Bob Jones University to align himself with the old white South.

And now the president has fallen behind John Kerry. Abruptly, it is the season of doctored photos showing Kerry alongside Jane Fonda, of Internet and Murdoch-media rumor campaigns about affairs that never were. Like father, like son; like Atwater, like Rove; no one spreads sewage quite like the Bushes.

But the proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage, which our current Bush endorsed on Tuesday, is more than just wedge politics as usual. It would actually create within the Constitution a permanent secondary caste in American life.

It’s an intriguing argument, that the Bushes play on voters’ prejudices and fears in an almost predictable pattern, to lift them up when the polls go down. I was baffled by Bush’s notorious visit to Bob Jones University last time around. It seems a lot clearer now.

The Discussion: 2 Comments

Do you think his stand on gay marriage is likely to gain or lose Bush votes? I just don’t have enough feel for the American voter … it occured to me that the only people whose votes would be lost by this would be people who wouldn’t vote for him anyway … and then it occured to me that the only people whose votes would be won would be people who would vote for him anyway. So is any electoral advantage gained? This isn’t meant to be a provocative comment … it’s a genuine question. What do you think?

February 27, 2004 @ 9:08 am | Comment

Here’s the way I see it: most Americans are opposed to gay marriage. But changing the Constitution is seen as an extremely big deal, and it’s something Americans are sensitive about. It takes years, and it’s a torturous process, as it should be. I think the numbers are about 58 percent opposed. But only 41 percent, according to a recent Sullivan post, are in favor of taking the draconian step of banning it with a constitutional amendment.

I think this will hurt Bush in the short and long-term. An impressive majority of younger voters have little or no problem with gay marriage. They are the voters of tomorrow, and they won’t forget this (and the Dems won’t let them forget this). In the shorter term, if the Dems can articulate just how awful a thing this amendment is, it will do much more harm than good. He’s just lost a million gay Republicans, and a lot of the fiscal conservative/social liberal types that have voted Republican since Reagan. So I see this as an act of sheer desperation. Those who point to Kerry for waffling (and he does waffle) need to hold their stringent standards to Bush, whose position previously was that marriage should be striutly a state issue.

February 27, 2004 @ 9:57 am | Comment

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