Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 28, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

THE NEXT FOUR YEARS....The Economist's John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge write in the LA Times today that some conservatives might be secretly hoping that George Bush loses the election this year.

No, that's not quite right, actually. Despite the headline writer's liberties, what they really said was merely that "in a few years, some on the right might look on a John Kerry victory as a blessing in disguise."

Why? They've got a laundry list of reasons: Bush has expanded government, he's already won his foreign policy point anyway, conservatives like gridlock, Republicans need a timeout to rethink the party, and a Kerry presidency would bring them roaring back like nobody's business in 2008.

This list is, to say the least, unconvincing. But they might be right anyway for a reason that they only fleetingly allude to in their fifth bullet: Bush has dug the country into such a godawful hole that the next four years are going to be hell no matter who's president.

The economy is the most obvious example. The fiscal reality is that we can't keep running enormous deficits forever, and the only way to get rid of the deficit is to raise taxes. Wouldn't it be nice if it were a Democrat who was forced to do that? And Social Security and Medicare need reforming, but any real reform is almost certain to enrage a significant number of people. How about letting a Democrat catch some of that grief?

And foreign affairs? Iraq is pretty much a no-win proposition at this point. We can either pull American soldiers out next year and watch the country spiral into chaos, or else we can stay the course and watch them get killed at the rate of a hundred a month or so. All the time knowing that leaving them there prevents us from credibly threatening force anywhere else in the world and that our enemies know it.

Bottom line: during sleepless nights there's a small voice in my head that agrees with Micklethwait and Wooldridge but in mirror image. What happens if Kerry wins and has to take over the economic and foreign policy mess that Bush has bequeathed him? Is it a poisoned chalice no matter who takes it up?

Maybe Bush should be required to clean up his own mess and suffer the consequences that go along with it.

Kevin Drum 2:06 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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