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"Happy Warrior."


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Mark Steyn

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article appears in the November 8, 2004, issue of National Review.

This election can’t end soon enough, and it probably won’t, not with thousands of Democrat lawyers circling the courthouses of selected battleground states. It’s necessary for Bush not just to win, but to win big enough to compensate for the gazillions of New York residents registering to vote in Florida, and for the massed ranks of chad-diviners waiting to descend if that proves insufficient.

But Bush owes us a big win anyway. A squeaker will not be good for America and it ought to prompt some serious reflection among Republicans on why the president didn’t use his 80 percent approval ratings three years ago to make a serious attempt to shift the political culture. More on this anon, either in our Extra-Embittered All-Recriminations Issue or in our Now That He’s Back In, We Can Start Whining and Complaining Again Special.

But, as it happens, I think he’ll win, and win convincingly enough. In 2000, Al Gore lost because he had no appeal to rural white men, who, despite his claims to be a Tennessee farmer, reacted to him as if he were some effete ninny from Massachusetts. Four years on, the Dems have replaced the faux effete ninny with the genuine article. Arkansas, West Virginia, and Tennessee will be sticking with Bush, and Maine’s Second Congressional District will join them.

Every loser spinning as he descends says he doesn’t believe the polls, but it does seem to me when you look at them that there’s something a little Squaresville about the whole racket. It’s 9/10 polling, and I’m not sure it catches some of the shifts. For example, everyone keeps talking about New Jersey as a “solidly Democrat state,” as if it were a complete mystery and aberration that it’s suddenly a swinger. It’s true that, in normal circumstances, New Jersey shouldn’t be in play. So what’s abnormal this election cycle? Well, there was that thing that happened just over the Hudson River three years ago that kinda changed the look of the skyline . . . How many New Jersey commuters to Manhattan feel reassured by Kerry on terrorism? A sliver of “9/11 Democrats” declined to support their party in the 2002 elections. Will there be more or fewer this time?
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