Jewish World Review May 5, 2003 / 3 Iyar, 5763

Joe Scarborough

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Why, despite recent successes, re-election is not a sure thing | President Bush won the war, and he will win the peace. But, will that be enough for him to win re-election? Don’t count on it.

Last Thursday, the President put an exclamation mark on the end of an incredible military campaign. By all accounts, the war against Saddam Hussein was a smashing success: Iraq has been liberated, the Arab world has been freed of a madman, and the Middle East peace process finally has a roadmap to follow.

Only the most extreme Bush-haters in Washington, Hollywood, and Europe would now suggest that America’s mission failed in Iraq. Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney and Mr. Rumsfeld have been vindicated like few leaders in modern American history.

With that behind us, the President’s re-election march should be a happy procession, right? Wrong.

Mr. Bush’s father blew a 91 percent approval rating in less than a year, but ultimately got embarrassed by Bill Clinton and Al Gore. And that was after America won the first Gulf War, and also after America won the Cold War on 41’s watch.

I know what you’re thinking, “Yeah, yeah, but this President Bush is not going to repeat his father’s mistakes. He will focus on the economy. He will focus on tax cuts. He will focus on job growth.” Maybe so, but simply focusing will not be enough. President Bush has got to kick-start America’s economic engine by next year, or meet the same fate of his father. The president believes more tax cuts are the answer, Democrats believe more spending is the answer. Americans will judge them both by looking into their wallets next November, right before they go into the voting booth.

Democratic politicians and strategists like James Carville like to blame the recession, which began two months after George Bush entered office, on George Bush. That’s as dumb as crediting the economic revival of the 90s, which started two months before Bill Clinton entered office, on Bill Clinton.

But let’s make no mistake of it: President Bush’s economic policies will be fair game in the campaign season. So Republicans had better hope that tax cuts will revive the economy, lower the deficit, and rev up the job market soon. Or else, we’ll be looking at John Kerry’s inauguration in the not-so-distant future.

The sky’s not falling, and the President is certainly not doomed. But now is not the time for any Bush supporter to feel smug. As the saying goes, “In politics, a week is a lifetime.”

If that’s the case, how many lifetimes does a year and a half make? The answer is, “Way too many for the White House to relax.” Buckle up for a long, tough campaign season. It’s gonna get ugly out there.

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Former Congressman Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.) hosts “Scarborough Country,” 10 p.m. ET, weeknights on MSNBC. Comment by clicking here.

05/02/03: ‘Capitol Offenses’
05/01/03: ‘The Real Deal’ on Hillary Clinton
04/30/03: The Iraq-al Qaida link: The elitists were wrong
04/29/03: Shiites biting the hand that released them
04/28/03: What the capitulation of Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz, means for the rest of the world's tyrants
04/25/03: Noble-sounding names mask political motives
04/22/03: Bill Clinton should heed Paul McCartney's advice
04/21/03: The president with an I.Q. of a pot of clay has made New York City elitists look like a bunch of bumbling idiots
04/16/03: Russia, France and Germany: Not stupid, just immoral
04/15/03: CNN's too little, too late apology
04/14/03: Who's the first elitist to admit they were wrong about the war?
04/10/03: He's baaack --- and his terror tactics deserve an 'F'
04/09/03: Iraqi lawyer and American teenaged girl proved themselves to be 'The Real Deal'

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