Tuesday, January 18, 2005


Ahhh, The Mandate Debate Again.

From Tuesday's WaPo ("free" registration required; pudknockers):
President Bush will begin his second term in office without a clear mandate to lead the nation, with strong disapproval of his policies in Iraq and with the public both hopeful and dubious about his leadership on the issues that will dominate his agenda, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Whoa, wait a minute: I thought a mandate, if there actually is such a thing, is endowed by, you know, an election, and not a poll. Who the hell cares what the Washington Post and ABC news say, when you've got November 2004 to point to?

Sure, we can argue whether the election results bestowed a mandate upon President Bush. But focusing on whether or not a silly poll determines a presidential mandate strikes me as Clintonian thinking at its worst.

How come the media fawns over politicians who act contrary to popular opinion, calling them "independent" and "mavericks," but only when the popular opinion favors conservatives? If Bush's poll numbers are bad right now, isn't he taking as brave a stand as Chuck Hagel or Howard Dean?

Never mind, I know the answer to that question already. It's only a mandate when the New York Times says it is.

There is, however, some good news for the President in this poll:
But the public also wants cooperation from the Democrats. At a time when Democratic leaders are preparing to challenge many of Bush's major initiatives, nearly seven in 10 Americans agree that Bush's victory means that congressional Democrats should compromise with him -- even if it means compromising on their
party's principles.
First, a point of order: anyone who can tell me which major Bush initiative the Democrats *won't* challenge wins a Garfield Ridge no-prize.

Someone show me how that statistic isn't more important than a measurement of Bush's personal popularity? That stat means Bush has 70% of the nation either supporting his policies, or urging their representatives to get out of the way. How is that not a mandate for the President's agenda?

Oh, that's right, it's not a mandate if you don't call it one. And I'm sure all the Democrats who polled in favor of letting Bush get his way in Congress did so as a protest vote. You know, reverse psychology-- if they don't fight Bush, maybe he won't fight them back?

Something tells me Ted Kennedy can't hear that message, and not just because he still has water in his ears.

Who knows if that 7 out of 10 number is accurate. I say it's not, because all political polls are garbage; you can trust me, I've got a degree in political science. But, assuming that statistic is accurate, I'm a realist, and I believe that, instead of representing support for compromise from Democrats, the stat represents a desire on the part of the great political middle in America to Simply. Ignore. Politics. At least for a little while longer.

Nomination fights and cloture votes may make Beltway bandits tingle, but they bore the rest of America. When Americans watch the inside baseball and Capitol Hill knife fights, they assume, rightly or wrongly, that none of that action is productive in the least. Time spent arguing over a judgeship is seen as wasted time that could have been spent on getting Granny Mae's prescription drug coverage passed.

Anyways, a lot of other interesting, and ultimately irrelevant poll numbers in the WaPo piece. Bore yourself if you care.

This posting was made on my personal computer.

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