April 22, 2004

A Sad, Hollow Tree

Peggy Noonan has a theory on why George Bush has solidified his standing in the polls even in the face of the relentless attacks on him in recent weeks from the media, from Congressional Democrats, and of course the Kerry campaign:

I think Mr. Bush is admired and liked after three years of war, terror, strife and recession because people have eyes.

They look at him, listen to him, and watch him every day. They can tell that George W. Bush is looking out for America. They can tell he means it. They can see his sincerity. They can tell he is doing his best. They understand his thinking because he tells them his thinking. They think he may be right. They're not sure, but at least they understand his thinking.

So far the Kerry campaign brings to mind a rather crude expression that I use when I am asked to believe what someone says, when that conflicts with what I can observe with my own eyes. "Don't piss on my head, and tell me it's raining." When Kerry tries to tell me that the Bush economic policies are failing because he is able to find an family that happens to be down on their luck and is willing to tell their story to a camera crew for a spot on the 7 o'clock news, I wonder who he expects to be convinced. People who just bought new refrigerators with the money from the Bush tax cuts aren't convinced. People who can see the market's performance or the job growth numbers or the unemployment rate aren't either. People have eyes. And as Noonan says, they also have to believe that the alternative would be preferable:

If you want to fire the incumbent, you have to have someone to hire in his place. The guy who opposes the incumbent has to seem like a credible president. He has to be a real alternative, a possible president. So far, roughly four months into his national fame, John Kerry has not made the sale. There are people who have Bush-fatigue, but they do not have Kerry-hunger.

So far he doesn't seem like a possible president. He seems somewhat shifty, somewhat cold, an operator. He has a good voice but he seems to use it most to slither out of this former statement or that erstwhile position. It's OK that he looks like a sad tree, but you can't look like a sad, hollow tree. And it looks a little hollow in there.

Posted by dan at April 22, 2004 8:29 PM