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The Therapy Sessions
Thursday, March 25, 2004

Not quite, Dick

Former Clinton Political Consultant Dick Morris thinks Bush is on his way to an election day blowout:
I have doubted the conventional wisdom that this election would be close. If Bush continues to stay on the offensive and Kerry's responses remain as inept as they've been, the Massachusetts Democrat will go downhill faster than he is now doing on his skiing vacation.

Bush's attacks have focused on the issues of terrorism and taxes. Kerry has not even answered the first charge and has given only a ritualistic denial of the second. Instead of answering Bush's charges in detail, he piously asks, in his ads, if the president has anything more to offer America than negative ads. But Americans don't see the Bush ads as below the belt, but as welcome information about a man they don't know who is running for president.

I'm not sure that I agree.

Like an economist trying to gauge the future performance of the economy, Morris can only say what will happen if events keep on going as they are.

And if things keep going the way they are, I agree with Morris: Kerry will be fatally wounded well before election day.

But events rarely stay the same, and events determine elections.

I think Bush's father lost to Clinton in 1992 because of a single jobs report. The unemployment rate was 7.9 percent (or something like that) and Clinton jumped all over it. As everyone knows, it is the president's economic policies - not the spending habits of 300 million people - that make the economy grow or contract.

It didn't matter that the numbers were eventually revised downward. The perception was out there: the country under Bush was horribly off course.

There are many factors that could change the course of the election. A terrorist attack would help Bush, but a sharp downturn in the value of American housing would help Kerry.

And with a weak dollar, the second is a real possibility.

A sharp stock market decline, a civil war in Iraq, a bad jobs report or any unexpectedly bad economic data could doom Bush.

But it would have to be something REALLY BAD to make America turn to a candidate as weak and unprincipled as Kerry.

But it puts Democrats in the awkward position of hoping for bad news. That usually looks bad.

I love to read political predictions. In my less disciplined moments, I even make them.

But I am well aware that predictions - even from the pros - are usually not worth the paper they are printed on.

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