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Jewish World Review Nov. 10, 2004 / 26 Mar-Cheshvan 5765

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Eight Thoughts | Eight quick thoughts on the recent election:

1. With the re-election of George W. Bush and the illness of Chief Justice William Rehnquist there has been a lot of talk, especially in the media, about how Bush now has a chance to make the court more conservative.

But it's not that easy. Rehnquist is very conservative — he was one of two justices to vote against Roe v. Wade — but replacing him with another conservative would not change the political make-up of the court. In fact, it might be hard for Bush to get a nominee as conservative as Rehnquist through the U.S. Senate.

What Bush needs to make the court more conservative is for moderate or liberal justices to resign — John Paul Stevens or Ruth Bader Ginsburg, for instance — and replace them with conservatives.

Otherwise, the court is unlikely to change much.

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2. But does Bush really want change that favors conservatives or does he want to "reach out" and "heal" the nation?

Well, I wouldn't take this healing talk too seriously. Bush was elected by conservatives who expect to be rewarded with conservative legislation, conservative judicial appointments and conservative Constitutional amendments.

3. John Kerry gave a very gracious concession speech Wednesday and he even choked up at one point. When he did, a thought struck me, however: Now he shows some human emotion? In his concession speech? Maybe he should have shown a little human emotion over the last year or so.

4. I have said it before and will say it again: Voters almost always choose the more likeable (or more likeable seeming) candidate for president. This election was no exception.

5. Rarely has an incumbent president received more bad news before an election:

Fatalities in Iraq, shortage of flu vaccine, high gasoline prices, the Abu Graib scandal, the Halliburton investigation, three badly reviewed debate performances…the list could go on and on. But George W. Bush won anyway. Why? Two reasons: We don't change presidents in the middle of a war and values, values, values. His values were more in tune with voters than were John Kerry's.

What can the Democrats do about this? Well, I suppose they could try to amend the Constitution so Bill Clinton could run again. Or they could try to find a candidate who can appeal to moderate as well as liberal voters. Sure, if Kerry had won Florida, he could have been president without winning a single other southern state, but wouldn't it be nice for the Democrats if they could find a candidate who was even slightly viable in the South?

6. One lesson of 2004 may be this: As both John Kerry and Howard Dean learned, building a coalition that depends on a high turn-out of first-time and young voters is a very dicey proposition.

7. Once again, a legislator has lost his bid for the presidency. Only three times in our history has a member of the House or Senate been elected directly to the presidency: James Garfield, Warren Harding and John Kennedy. (All three died in office, but that is a coincidence.) Why is it so hard for Senators and members of the House to win? It may be that legislators have to compromise so much and have to defend so many votes, that they get torn apart in the general election. Governor's don't have that problem.

8. I know some people are very happy, some are very sad and some are very angry. But keep in mind that the Republic always does survive. Often, it even prospers.

And remember: The next presidential election campaign has already begun.

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