Top 10 Letters
The 2002 election, Hawaii, New Jersey, Democrats, porn, and more.
11:00 PM, Nov 10, 2002
As David Brooks says, this election should be a significant wake-up call for the Democratic party, and in the coming days there are a number of lessons they should take home and study.
(1) People like Bush. George W. Bush is a good person. It's hard not to like him. When a widely likeable guy campaigns for people, those people tend to fare better than they otherwise would. Notice how the polling changed in response to Bush's visits across the country. There's no mistaking the relationship.
(2) Leadership counts. Bush is above all things, a leader. He decides what he believes is morally correct and then follows it through. Most Americans approve of his record, so when he made clear the need for a supportive majority in Congress to continue the trend, people responded. A leader motivates people to want to support him.
(3) Politeness counts. One of Bush's hallmarks is that he is always polite. It made Anne Richards and Al Gore crazy, because he wouldn't sink to their rude behavior. His campaign presence this year, while forceful, never departed from what is acceptable public decorum. The Wellstone memorial/pep rally, on the other hand, was a marked departure. It was shrill and out of place, and cost the Democrats dearly.
(4) People avoid the shrill and arrogant. If this election was a referendum on Bush, it was also a referendum on Terry McAuliffe and Tom Daschle.
(5) The Democratic line has grown old, and people anticipate it now. So all that's left for the Democrats is to offer raw opposition for its own sake. When that's all they can muster, the electorate rejects them.
--Peter Byrnes Jr.