By Paul Craig Roberts
July 18, 2007
This is a wake-up call that we are about to experience another 9/11-WMD experience.
The wake-up call is unlikely to be effective, because the American attitude toward government changed fundamentally seventy-odd years ago. Prior to the 1930s, Americans were suspicious of government, but with the arrival of the Great Depression, Tojo, and Hitler, President Franklin D. Roosevelt convinced Americans that government existed to protect them from rapacious private interests and foreign threats. Today, Americans are more likely to give the benefit of the doubt to government than they are to family members, friends, and those who would warn them about the government’s protection.
Intelligent observers are puzzled that President Bush is persisting in a futile and unpopular war at the obvious expense of his party’s electoral chances in 2008.
In the July 18 Los Angeles Times (“Bush the Albatross”), Ronald Brownstein reminds us that Bush’s behavior is disastrous for his political party. Unpopular presidents “have consistently undercut their party in the next election.” Brownstein reports that “88% of voters who disapproved of the retiring president’s job performance voted against his party’s nominee in past elections. . . . On average, 80% of voters who disapproved of a president’s performance have voted against his party’s candidates even in House races since 1986.”
Brownstein notes that with Bush’s dismal approval rating, this implies a total wipeout of the Republicans in 2008.
A number of pundits have concluded that the reason the Democrats have not brought a halt to Bush’s follies is that they expect Bush’s unpopular policies to provide them with a landslide victory next year.