The case being made against Bush is that, on matters both foreign and domestic, he misleads if he doesn't intentionally lie and that his presidency endangers not terrorists but law-abiding Americans. That is a harsh indictment that, while pleasing to the base, has yet to appeal to voters in the middle who don't share the Democratic hatred toward Bush and don't regard his presidency as a continuous act of deception designed to destroy America.An obvious point perhaps, but one worth a moment's pursuit. I received my first Bush/Cheney solicitation yesterday, a letter asking me to give money or time to help "campaign efforts in your town." (If I may digress momentarily, here's my contribution to Bush/Cheney: Don't waste your time or money in my town. You lost it already by virtue of not being Howard Dean. The downside is that you'll probably lose Massachusetts, too. The upside? It shows you're doing something right.)
The Bush/Cheney letter hit exactly the right note for the 2004 campaign: It was friendly, but did not fail to address me as Mr. Enobarbus. (All the letters we get from the liberal side assume first-name familiarity.) It mentioned the threat from terrorists, but did not dwell on fear. It asked for help to re-elect the president, but made no mention of the other side; to read the letter one might suspect Bush was running against al-Qaeda, not the Democrats, in 2004. (Ann Coulter will tell you the same thing.)
I haven't received any mail from the Dems yet, though I'm certain I will -- I know for a fact that I'm on both mailing lists. It will be interesting to see if the eventual Dem nominee stays with the angry, aggressive tone. I think it's a losing tenor for 2004, as much as it was a losing tenor in 1996, when the all-but-official GOP slogan was "Anyone But Clinton." So far, Lieberman has come the closest to running a campaign without the "Bush Is The Enemy" theatrics, and even he has had to cut it close. Is it any wonder, then, that Lieberman continues to poll ahead of Kerry and Dean nationally? It's partly name recognition, but with the way the press has covered Dean's white-hot rise from obscurity, there must be another contributing factor.