October 31, 2004


Why 'This Is About Bush': His narrowly focused 'hedgehog presidency' cements the allegiance of conservatives and galvanizes his foes. The result is bitter division. (Ronald Brownstein, October 31, 2004, LA Times)

More Americans than ever may participate in Tuesday's presidential election — as volunteers and, on Tuesday, voters. But in its tone, its agenda and its fervor, the marathon race for the White House bears the unmistakable imprint of one man: President Bush.

As much through his unflinching style as his aggressive policies, Bush has powered a campaign that has engaged, motivated and divided Americans — and much of the world — like none in recent times.

The Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. John F. Kerry, has his admirers and his critics. But the unprecedented sums of money raised by both parties, the long lines of early voters already crowding polling places in many states and the anticipation of a sharply higher turnout Tuesday are all primarily reflections of the passions Bush has stirred in four turbulent years, especially by invading Iraq, analysts agree.

"This is about Bush," said Andrew Kohut, executive director of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

Half a century ago, the philosopher Isaiah Berlin famously separated intellectuals and artists into two categories: the fox, who is clever, creative, committed to many goals; and the hedgehog, a creature driven by a single unwavering conviction. By Berlin's standards, Bush has produced one of the purest examples of a hedgehog presidency.

With his repeated tax cuts, his support for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and the war in Iraq, Bush has consistently pursued goals that generate strong support among Republicans and conservatives, but at the price of provoking antipathy among Democrats and liberals.

Sure, except that 70% of the American people support things like the ban on gay marriage, the partial-birth abortion ban, and a ban on cloning. Over 60% support privatizing Social Security, tax cuts, and deposing Saddam. America isn't very evenly divided--the 40% is just loud and angry.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 31, 2004 8:55 AM

Loud and angry and up till now controlled the media and defined the debate.

We're not going back to those bad old days no matters what happens on Tuesday.

I'm no believer, but Bush must have something
special that helps him withstand the barrage of hate and lies pounding him from all sides.

Did you see the wonderful smiles on the Bush's faces while Arnold was whipping the crowd to a frenzy? They looked like two little kids at the fair.

That kind of simplicity comes from within and the left will never understand it no matter how many advanced degrees they have and no matter how many learned papers they've written.

Hold fast, Mr. President. We're with you.

Posted by: erp at October 31, 2004 9:39 AM

I believe Aesop's Fables predate Isaiah Berlin "Fox / Hedgehog" analysis.

The story is called the "Fox & the Cat". The cat has one defense against dogs. He climbs the tree. The Fox, being so amazingly clever, has many defenses.

As the dog approach, the Cat climbs to safety, while the Fox gets eaten for lack of being able to decide on the best defense.

How do we get that into a campaign ad?

Posted by: BB at October 31, 2004 10:15 AM

erp beat me to it: loud, angry, and in control of an ever narrowing slice of the media.

Posted by: Melissa at October 31, 2004 11:07 AM

the "Silent Majority" of the 1960s has developed a voice.

Posted by: John J. Coupal at October 31, 2004 11:48 AM

If Bush wins 54+% of the vote, all he needs to do is say (in his post-election news conference) "we have united the nation, with the first majority result in 16 years". The Democrats can shriek for the next 4 years, and the NYT can spin and lie for the next 4 years, but they WON'T count.

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 31, 2004 12:26 PM

Oh yes they will -- they will count and recount and recount again, trying to tie Bush's hands for months while things deteriorate in Iraq up to the elections.

I've never bothered to change my party registration but I've known I'm no longer a Dem since Gore's court challenge 4 years ago.

Posted by: too true at October 31, 2004 2:03 PM