Andrew Busch presents a useful comparison of 41 (GHW Bush) and 43 (GW Bush) in an editorial nearby, which shows why the 2004 presidential election will differ significantly from election year 1992. Focusing on the lasting impact of the 9/11 terrorist attack and success of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Busch argues that our current president has a keener sense of domestic issues (and the politics it takes to make gains with them) than our 41st president--a huge advantage going into election 2004.
Let me add that with national security a top priority for at least the next few years, a respectable, focused, and winning political program, and money to burn by the next election cycle, Pres. Bush should have little problem winning reelection. Quite the prediction, I know; you heard it here first. Anyway, my real point is that election year 2004 will soon become simply a Democratic dry run for election 2008--the way first-time candidates for political office build their Rolodexes, recruit advisors and staff, test how well they can raise money, and generate name recognition for the next go-around.
The question is, what issues will Democrats focus on in the next 17 months, what "important" speeches and soundbites will they enter into conventional wisdoms fact file, in order to be the last Democrat standing come 2008? Ill leave it to others to chime in on these points, but for starters let me note that one Democratic senator who has yet to declare interest this time around has been biding
her--I mean his or her time by making speeches, raising money, and spreading the wealth around to other campaigns in preparation for a bid when Bush finishes his second term. Look for this senator to be quite measured and calculating in her support for the Democratic nominee in 2008.