So apparently Bush has decided to go after Gore on the “character issue”. According to media reports, including the Washington Times “yesterday’s speech marks a clear decision by the Bush campaign to focus increased attention on the ethical lapses of Mr. Gore and Mr. Clinton, and to raise the “character issue,” which polls have consistently shown is a problem for Mr. Gore.”
This is incredible. Every single time that the Republicans are perceived as being accusatory on the character issue the Dems go up in the polls. Even if polls show some problems for Gore due to these issues that does not mean that Bush adds to these problems by harping on it himself. The opposite is true - he turns them around on himself instead.
I am convinced that the greatest hope that Gore has, at this point, of winning the election, is to have Bush focus on character issues, while Gore emphasizes substance.
This would matter of course if the polls could be proven to have actual bearing on the ultimate winner. I guess a few people vote as if an election is a horse race but I believe that it’s a very small number at that. It’s going to be a close race and ultimately, it will matter very little to most people whether Al or George wins.
What I’m getting at is that the polled results come more and more into question with each passing election. The results are deemed as unreliable for any number of reasons having to do with who took the poll to how it was carried out and how the question was asked.
I just don’t believe that large enough segment of the population is so sensitive as to be affected by the type of campaign that their party is leading against the opposition. Can’t imagine very many republicans opting out of voting for Bush just because he said some uncomplementary things about Gore (the enemy). The opposite is equally true of course.
Bottom line, polls make for good evening news viewing but not much else.
**This is incredible. Every single time that the Republicans are perceived as being accusatory on the character issue the Dems go up in the polls. **
There is only one poll that matter. November 7th. I disagree with you on the effectiveness of the charachter issue. I think impeachment, the “no controlling authority,” the buddhist temple fundraiser, the nuclear secrets, the etc…etc…etc… have really affected the American public.
How else do you explain Gore being slaughtered in the polls and about to lose this election by a landslide? The guy is a VP during one of the greatest economic expansions ever and we are basically at peace, why change?
I think many of the polls showing the results you are talking about are inaccurate. One way or the other, we will see the real poll pretty soon.
BTW…There is now an ad running talking about Gore allowing nuclear secrets to go to China. The NAACP is running the ad about Hate crimes. I think we are going to see a whole lot of mud slinging between now and Nov. 7th. I expect to see Bush smear Gore, and Gore smear both Bush and Nader. And…I guess I expect to see Clinton smear Bush as well.
Obviously, few highly commited partisans (like myself) are not going to change their vote based on issues like these. But the battle is not for these voters - it’s for the waffling and relatively uncommitted center. These people can be very affected by tactics.
It’s obvious (to me, at least) that there are a large number of people in this country who are sick and tired of Clinton and Gore and their scandals. But they are even sicker and more tired of people harping about these scandals. As long as the Repubs ignore the issue, the faint stain will tarnish Gore. But if they make these matters a central part of the campaign it reflects badly on them in the minds of these voters.
Additionally, a focus on non-issues creates the perception that the candidate is weak on the issues. In a similar manner, I think Hillary is hurt in NY by being a carpetbagger, but is at the same time helped by Lazio’s obsession with this matter. It makes her look more substantive by contrast.
The only segment of the American public they have affected are the people that have been driving around with “Impeach Clinton! And her husband too!” bumper stickers on their cars since 1992. And those people have already made up their minds as to whom they’re voting for.
Regarding the last post by tracer: I think it has affected the center as well, but campaigning on it will rebound with these voters, as mentioned. But the significance of this point is that it may account in part for the blindness of these politicians. The crowds who come to political rallies are enthusiastic about impeachment issues, as are callers to Rush etc. This, combined with the poll numbers, may give a false sense that this issue can be utilized profitably.
Even Democrats will vote Republican this time around…
It’s a setup. After eight years of economic expansion under Reagan, Bush Sr. faced/caused a recession.
Now, after eight years of economic expansion with Clinton, the Jr. will face/cause a recession.
It is an evil conspiracy by the Democratic Party to once and for all eliminate the Republican Party. After two recessions under one family, the people will turn their back on the ‘Party of the Rich’ forever.
I have to disagree. Only time will tell, but I think there is going to be a huge rejection of Gore. To me, part of this is a direct result of the ethical lapses in the last 8 years. In fact, I see Nader as a direct result of this backlash.
If this administration had not had all the scandals, I think that traditional liberals would be supporting Gore instead of Nader. These are not people who ever believed in impeaching Clinton, but they do not want another 4 years of the same crap under Gore.
I read the same story mentioned in the OP this morning and had the same immediate reaction. I think it is a mistake for Bush to go on a full frontal character attack. Attacks are what I expect from the Gore campaign, as it goes into ‘desperate’ mode realizing that Gore is gonna get creamed.
Bush is much better seved by referring to the character issue in an oblique way, in a manner that empahsizes what he will bring to the office rather than what Gore wouldn’t bring. Bush can say “I will bring honesty and intergrity to the office of the Presidency.” Nothing wrong with that. He can say, “You can trust me” or “I won’t let you down.” But going off on specific misdeeds of Clinton/Gore, at this point, will tend to put people off. They know about this stuff already!
Having said that, I think there is a window of opportunity to call Gore down on the secret arms pact made with Russia. My feeling is that this has not been widely reported.
I’ve wondered that myself. A recession does seem to be looming, and it is quite possible that if Gore won it would be the best thing for the Republicans ever.
I really expected in one of the debates when Gore kept saying how the economy has been steadily improving for 8 years for W. to turn to him and point out he has only been in office for 7 1/2, and thank him for not screwing things up. Maybe he knows something we don’t but Gore’s pretension that there isn’t a lag in the effects of a president’s economic policies is pretty lame IMHO.
An interesting theory, Freedom2, but as one of those traditional liberals you speak of and as a regular reader of The Nation, another bastion of traditional liberaldom, I can tell you that this is not in general the case. There may be a few people like Christopher Hitchens (author of “No One Left to Lie To”) who have been fairly focussed on the scandals. But, for most liberals, the problem with Clinton/Gore is the extent to which they have sold out on various issues. After all, the two come from the Democratic Leadership Council, the right-most part of the party whose basic philosophy is (at least from our view) to beat the Republicans by practically becoming them. And, while Bush may think Gore is a “liberal” and a “big spender”, the record speaks otherwise. You would be hardpressed to explain how this Administration has been different than the Republicans on many major economic issues. (Although IMHO the Republicans can definitely still outdo the Clinton–Gore Democrats on trashing the environment, throwing tax monies at the rich, etc., which is why I won’t go as far as Nader in saying there is no difference between Gore and Bush…and, of course, not to mention social issues like abortion and affirmative action).
The only sense in which the scandals may strike a major cord with liberals is the extent to which the Democrats, like the Republicans, have become so beholden to the big-monied corporate special interests contributing into their campaign coffers that this then influences their policies in this rightward direction.