The Bush campaign was able to persuade some voters who supported Gore in 2000 to turn to Bush in 2004 on the issues of terrorism, strength and leadership.
...The other major factor was our side's failure to win the economic debate. Despite an economy that was not delivering for many working people in Ohio, the exit poll results show that voters in Ohio did not see Kerry providing a clear alternative. Just 45 percent expressed confidence that Kerry could handle the economy, compared with Bush's 49 percent.
Besides being pretty funny — that "values" had little to do with the election, at least in Ohio, after all — I am also relieved to hear once again that most Bush voters based their decision on the same issues I did: zeal (if not uniformly demonstrated competence) in persecution of the war on terror, seeing Iraq as part of that war (a position Kerry gave up when he began to denounce the war), and not seeing any overriding economic reason to go with Kerry.
So it wasn't toothless fundamentalist zombie gay-bashers who won the election for Bush, but moderates who saw him as most likely to remain steady and aggressive in pursuit of the war on terror, a war they support even if a number of Americans (including Michael Moore and MoveOn.org, as very well explained by Peter Beinart) see that war, as a headline writer at the New York Times snidely put it, as "an obsession the world doesn't share."
And speaking of said essay by Roger Cohen, the tone wavers like a pre-school Christmas concert as he struggles mightily to be "fair" to the Bush/mainstream American perspective on the war on terror, while betraying a predisposition to the "internationalist" position of "who can care much about a few-thousand Americans being, unfortunatley of course, killed by some misguided souls, when multi-millions are living in abject poverty, starving and disease-ridden in the third world?"
Or as Cohen puts it:
- [The war on terror] is often portrayed abroad as a distraction from more critical issues - as an American attempt to impose a bellicose culture, driven by the cultivation of fear, on a world still taken with the notion that the cold war's end and technology's advance have opened unprecedented possibilities for dialogue and peace.
Hey, sometimes the world is really stupid: pretending the problem isn't there doesn't make it go away. Talk about clinging irrationally to the past, an outdated vision we (the U.S. in general, the Bush and previous administrations) too shared until September 11. But most of us here (other than Michael Moore, MoveOn.org and fellow travelers), Republicans and Democrats alike, grasped the enormity of the threat and the stark reality of the consequences of ignoring it.