Election Forecast? No Capital Left!
Let me put it to you this way:
I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend
President George W. Bush
November 4th, 2004
By Al Owens
Thus spake Bush, two days after he’d won reelection in 2004. He was announcing
to the world that he’d been right all along and nobody could stand in the way of
his vision of Bush America! Ironically, he uttered those words about political
capital at a news conference in which he also claimed, “I am fully prepared to
work with both Republican and Democrat leadership to advance an agenda that I
think makes a big difference for the country.” In other words, he was willing to
heal the wounds caused by an especially bloody presidential campaign, as long as
those pesky Democrats stood in line and admitted they deserved getting
Yet, just 26 days after the President’s arrogant proclamation, he must have seen
there was a signpost up ahead. More Americans died in Iraq by November 30th
(137), than during any single month of the war.
3 days later, on December 3rd, Bush starting using his capital. He nominated
Bernie Kerik to head The Department Homeland Security. By December 10th, Kerik
withdrew his nomination. It seems he’d been alleged to have engaged in a variety
of legal and ethical entanglements. Later he’d plead guilty to a couple of
ethics violations and he got himself fined more than 200 thousand dollars. Kerik
helped Bush’s capital shrink a bit. 72 Americans died in Iraq that month.
By the following February, (58 Americans died in Iraq that month) Bush decided
he’d unfurl his plan to “save” social security with something called private
investment accounts. Staunch congressional supporters like Pennsylvania’s
Senator Rick Santorum sprung into action with charts, and PowerPoint
presentations to support a president, who’d, himself, mount a 60 day, 60 stop
campaign that would eventually lead to nothing remotely resembling the stated
goal. No plan to save social security ever surfaced. No wonder former U.S. Labor
Secretary Robert Reich called it, “A really dumb idea”.
35 Americans died in Iraq in March of 2005. That’s the same month Terri Schiavo
died after years of being in a “permanent vegetative state”. Republicans in
congress used some of their perceived capital when they subpoenaed the dying
Schiavo to testify in one of their hearings. A maneuver aimed at the Florida
judge who’d ruled that her feeding tube could be pulled, thusly allowing Schiavo
to die. If she couldn’t be flown to Washington to testify, that judge could have
been held in contempt of Congress. Schiavo was never flown to Washington, but
Bush flew back early from his vacation in Texas to sign a law that would wrest
control of the Schiavo case away from the Florida courts and give it to the U.S.
Supreme Court. Schiavo died a few days later. Bush used his capital to pressure
the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court didn’t take the bait.
August 2005. 85 Americans die in Iraq. 1,836 Americans eventually die after
Hurricane Katrina. The Bush capital used? A none too hasty trip to New Orleans
and another proclamation. “Brownie, you’re doing a heckava job.” To borrow, and
put a riff on a well-analyzed Bush phrase, his praise was a “misOVERestimate”.
Eight days after commending his FEMA director, the FEMA director resigned.
On the month Bush used his dwindling capital to nominate Harriet Miers to the US
Supreme Court, 96 Americans died in Iraq. Miers withdrew her nomination in days,
after facing widespread questions about her competence. Republicans asked the
Bush backed the Dubai Ports deal while facing even stiffer Republican challenges
in February and March of 2006. (86 American deaths in Iraq) A company from The
United Arab Emirates would have provided support for some US ports, and
according to many Republicans, that just wasn’t a good expenditure of the
Last month, with President Bush’s capital looking more like pocket-change made
another announcement. “It’s never been about staying the course.” More than 100
Americans died in Iraq. It seems the president’s political capital has