"Pundits and historians call Mr. Bush polarizing--and he is, but in some unusual ways. For one thing, he's not trying to polarize. He is not saying, "My team is for less government, your team is for more--my team, stand with me!"got that?
Mr. Bush has muddied what his team stands for. He has made it all come down to him--not to philosophy but to him and his certitudes.
What is polarizing about him is the response he elicits from Americans just by being himself. They have deep questions about him, even as he is vivid to them.
Americans don't really know, deep down in their heads, whether this president, in his post-9/11 decisions, is a great man or a catastrophe, a visionary or wholly out of his depth.
And yet: You know he means it when he says he is trying to protect America. You know his heart is in it. You know he means it when he says there are bad guys and we will stop them. And that has meaning."
and now for her concerntrollery:
"But I feel the Democrats this year are making a mistake. They think it will be a cakewalk. A war going badly, immigration, high spending, a combination of sentimentality and dimness in foreign affairs--everyone in the world wants to be free, and in exactly the way we define freedom at dinner parties in McLean and Chevy Chase--and conservative thinkers and writers hopping mad and hoping to lose the House.
The Democrats' mistake--ironically, in a year all about Mr. Bush--is obsessing on Mr. Bush. They've been sucker-punched by their own animosity.
"The Democrats now are incapable of answering a question on policy without mentioning Bush six times," says pollster Kellyanne Conway. " 'What is your vision on Iraq?' 'Bush lied us into war.' 'Health care? 'Bush hasn't a clue.' They're so obsessed with Bush it impedes them from crafting and communicating a vision all their own." They heighten Bush by hating him.
One of the oldest clichés in politics is, "You can't beat something with nothing." It's a cliché because it's true. You have to have belief, and a program. You have to look away from the big foe and focus instead on the world and philosophy and programs you imagine.
Mr. Bush's White House loves what the Democrats are doing. They want the focus on him. That's why he's out there talking, saying Look at me.
Because familiarity doesn't only breed contempt, it can breed content. Because if you're going to turn away from him, you'd better be turning toward a plan, and the Democrats don't appear to have one.
Which leaves them unlikely to win leadership. And unworthy of it, too."