Ballot Box: My Right Foot

articles
Jan. 25 2001 3:00 AM

Ballot Box: My Right Foot

(Continued from Page 1)

Apparently, there are people around Bush who see things this way. A few weeks ago, Mike Allen quoted one of them in the Washington Post. "The feeling is that the country deserves governance and if you don't assert the sovereignty and legitimacy of your administration from the outset, you undermine your ability to achieve your goals later," the adviser said. Unfortunately, the Bushies have gotten into trouble with this kind of attitudinizing before. In the closing days of the campaign, Karl Rove went around telling everybody that Bush was going to sweep into office. The idea was that people would vote for the perceived winner. The reality was that the attempt to manipulate voter psychology nearly resulted in Bush serving out his term as governor of Texas. The problem with this tactic is that perceptions aren't reality, even in Washington.

Advertisement

In fact, these various theories aren't mutually exclusive. Each supplies part of the explanation for Bush's recent behavior. And there's a fifth possibility, too, which seems to me the most persuasive. Bush doesn't think he's being all that conservative. He doesn't see himself jerking right for the same reason Bill Clinton didn't think he was lurching left at the beginning of his first term. The presidency creates a kind of political echo chamber, especially when one party controls both the executive and legislative branches. In 1993, Clinton didn't realize that what were consensus views within his party would come across as extreme positions to the populace as a whole. When he wanted to reclaim the center after the 1994 election, Clinton had to bring in Dick Morris and undermine his own staff. In the same way, Bush risks finding the heart of the GOP while misjudging the center of the larger debate. And if he wants to avoid this fate? He'll need to escape the conservative hothouse that is now his home.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Even When They Go to College, the Poor Sometimes Stay Poor

Republicans Want the Government to Listen to the American Public on Ebola. That’s a Horrible Idea.

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Tom Hanks Has a Short Story in the New Yorker. It’s Not Good.

Brow Beat

Marvel’s Civil War Is a Far-Right Paranoid Fantasy

It’s also a mess. Can the movies do better?

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Watching Netflix in Bed. Hanging Bananas. Is There Anything These Hooks Can’t Solve?

The Procedural Rule That Could Prevent Gay Marriage From Reaching SCOTUS Again

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 7:13 PM Deadly Advice When it comes to Ebola, ignore American public opinion: It’s ignorant and misinformed about the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 6:32 PM Taylor Swift’s Pro-Gay “Welcome to New York” Takes Her Further Than Ever From Nashville 
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 20 2014 4:59 PM Canadian Town Cancels Outdoor Halloween Because Polar Bears
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.