Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Like Father, Like Son

Election bets are now on, and I bet (though not heavily) that Bush 43 like Bush 41 will be a one-term president.

If the WMD had been found, Americans would have tolerated a botched occupation and ongoing guerilla war in Iraq; if our victory had been decisive and Iraqis had welcomed US forces as liberators we might have forgotten about the WMD. But the war turned out to be folly at both ends: no legitimate motivation and no good outcome.

And then there is the economy, stupid. Will Dubya have the guts to ask Americans whether they are better off than they were 4 years earlier when he campaigns for 2004?

But I won't bet heavily because it takes more than mere empirical facts to dislodge entrenched cultural assumptions. Most Americans remain convinced that get-tough will solve all problems: cutting taxes and waging war are the two great sacraments of political success. If tax cuts haven't jump started the economy it must be because they weren't deep enough; if war doesn't seem to have resulted in decisive victory it must be because we've chickened out. O ye of little faith--the solution is to cut deeper and fight harder. Like all religious dogmas, this one is not falsifiable.

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