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Don't Underestimate Bush (posted December 13, 2000)

With the way cleared for George W. Bush to become the next president of the United States, the obstacles to him are enormous. He won the Electoral College, but lost the popular vote, the first time this has happened since 1888. His narrow margin in Florida was ratified by the U.S. Supreme Court on a 5-4 vote. Squabbling over ballot design and voting procedures casts doubt on the very legitimacy of his presidency.

Yet despite these clear and compelling problems, don't underestimate Bush. He is a candidate who beat an incumbent vice president during a period of peace and prosperity. Widely acknowledged to have a weak intellect and poor debating skills, he bested Gore in the presidential debates. Though not very smart, he has political skills that are quite impressive.

Bush's narrow margins in the House and Senate will help position him in the political center, where he needs to be in order to govern effectively. Look for him to be the Republican Bill Clinton, meaning a man who seeks to tame the ideological wing of his own party and reposition it more in the mainstream. It will be a tricky tightrope line to walk, between appeasing his base and appealing to the center. But Bush demonstrated the ability to beat McCain during the primaries and Gore during the general election that he is more gifted politically than many of his critics are willing to acknowledge.
Copyright 2000Karen Martin Media Services