November 7, 2004


How Bush tapped into a well of faith: Paul Harris reports on the Republican revolution that left Democrats marginalised as the voters affirmed their belief in the President (Paul Harris, November 7, 2004, The Observer)

For a brief moment President George W. Bush thought he might have lost. As Air Force One was touching down in Washington on election-day afternoon, his political adviser, Karl Rove, was hunched over an onboard phone getting the first exit poll data from the battleground states.

It was not good news. When Rove relayed the tidings that Kerry could be heading for a win, Bush was steadfast but disappointed. 'I am surprised,' he confessed to senior adviser Karen Hughes, and then added: 'But it is what it is.'

That last phrase echoed the words the Pope used about Mel Gibson's blockbuster Christian film The Passion of the Christ. It showed how easily religious mannerisms fall from Bush's lips and how central his faith is to his view of politics. [...]

Every 10 years the US Census Bureau has a bit of harmless fun and calculates the demographic centre of America's shifting population. It is an imaginary spot on the map where America would balance perfectly if placed on a pivot. The spot is moving south and west by several miles a year: straight into the Republican heartland.

With the re-election of President George W. Bush the political map of America has now finally caught up with its population map. The last census in 2000 put America's centre in Phelps County, Missouri. Last week Phelps County voted for Bush by a margin of 63 per cent to 36 per cent for Kerry. Missouri itself is a sea of red around isolated patches of blue in its two big cities of St Louis and Kansas City. And the trend line of the spot spells even more future gloom for Democrats. By now, four years after the last census, it has probably already left Phelps County. It is moving straight for redder than red Kansas.

The Democrats are now coming to terms with the fact that America - albeit by a narrow margin - has become a Republican country. They face a Republican President and Republican control of both Houses of Congress. 'We have to contend with that reality. We are a minority party,' said Will Marshall, head of the Progressive Policy Institute, an influential Democratic thinktank.

The party now faces a bitter fight between those who believe the Democrats should return to liberal values and those who feel that they should fight the Republicans on the cultural issues. 'The Democrats just have to take a long, hard look in the mirror. They are in deep trouble. They face the wilderness years,' said Shawn Bowler, a political scientist at the University of California.

Perhaps it is precisely because Europe is so different than us that he recognizes the importance of the "is what it is" quote.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 7, 2004 1:23 PM
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