Sunday, November 28, 2004

Does Bush Now Have Political Capital to Spend?

Does Bush Now Have Political Capital to Spend?
A Look at the Historical Record Suggests the Answer Is No
Friday, Nov. 19, 2004
At his first post-reelection news conference, President Bush remarked, "I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it."
Political capital is a vague concept. Yet no one can doubt the gist of the President's meaning. Clearly, he believes he can now get his way politically in Washington. When "capital" is used in the political context, it means an advantage, or an accumulations of favors, or influence, that will give its holder political sway.
Bush's 2004 victory, however, has given him only a slight bit of additional political capital. Rhetoric notwithstanding, he is not, politically speaking, a wealthy man. In truth, he was politically bankrupt after 2000, and he is not all that much stronger today.
Just check the historical record, if you will. Especially given his claim to be a "wartime" president, Bush's victory rings as hollow as our history has to offer. The mainstream news media has played it as a big win. In fact, it is nothing of the kind. Puffery, pretension, and propaganda may create the image of political capital but these illusions can vanish quickly....