I have to admit: After four years, three debates and one big headache, I was ready for a new president. I was not alone; leading up to election day, I-and the vast minority of Americans-just had a gut feeling that John Kerry was going to pull through.
But with a resounding victory-and no recounts necessary-George W. Bush proved that even a popular university opinion writer can be wrong…from time to time, of course.
Whether he won for being conservative, religious, resolute or any combination of the three is all beyond me, but what struck fear in the hearts of most liberals (other than that they might be ignored) was the concept that such a dumb man was re-elected in the wake of a poorly planned (he recently asked Congress for an additional $80 billion, bringing the total to the $300 billion neighborhood), outlook-not-so-good (casualties across the board cannot even be estimated) kind of war.
Turns out, W. might not be so dumb after all.
The odds were stacked against him, from insurgent attacks to still-existing socio-religious turmoil. But in the end, 30,000 polling places were opened for the more than 14 million registered voters, which cannot erase, but most definitely dwarfs, the 25 civilian casualties caused by roughly one dozen insurgent attacks.
What’s more, feel-good stories abounded. There was a 90-year-old woman carried via a wheelbarrow, spirited chants from elated voters at various polling sites, voter turnout well above expectations, and a plethora of other pro-democracy images that Wag the Dog couldn’t have come up with.
So, it came as no surprise that President Bush, just after 1 p.m. local time Sunday, having digested four hours of post-election Iraq, came strutting on up to his lectern with this message: “[Iraqis] have taken rightful control of their country’s destiny.”
I didn’t pay attention to what he said after that, though it was probably something to the effect of “Yeeeee haw, bitches!”
So, he flashed that now-famous “I did good, right Daddy?” grin, and walked back behind the double doors, presumably to take a nap.
What didn’t shock me was that George W. Bush called this weekend’s elections a “resounding success.”
What did, is that, for the first time in a long time, I actually believed the man.
Ben Minkus can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.