Tuesday, November 02, 2004

You know those bumper stickers that started appearing after 9/11, saying "United We Stand"? I realized long ago that the cars sporting those stickers were driven by Bush supporters. And that's ironic, because, as Ronald Brownstein points out, GWB's presidency has been the most divisive in at least the last half century.

Before the election, Bush saw himself as a uniter, someone who could bring differing partisan factions together. Four years later, Bush has strengthened and solidified his conservative base to the point that he might win re-election despite dramatic failures that would sink most other incumbents. But the price for creating this loyalty and devotion among traditional Republicans is that, even if he does win a second term, he will not be able to achieve his original goal of being a "compassionate conservative" who could draw Democrats and liberals and broaden his party base.

Why did this happen? Well, because the vision Candidate Bush supported and the actual choices President Bush made were vastly different.

Consistently, Bush placed a higher priority on passing his ideas unaltered than making compromises that would attract more supporters from the other party. Maybe Democrats never would have met Bush halfway — but he never tried very hard to find out. Within months of his inaugural, the inevitable result was rising partisanship in Congress and rising polarization in the polls.

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