Originally created 04/15/04

Putting it on the line

Ashley Revell of London made headlines this week when he put everything he had on a do-or-die spin of a Las Vegas roulette wheel.

Likewise, George W. Bush is putting it all on the line in Iraq.

The president, resolute and determined as ever, made clear in his Tuesday evening press conference that he is not going to let mounting casualty rates, harping critics or sliding poll numbers deter him from staying the course in Iraq.

He's obviously a leader who feels he's doing the right thing by trying to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq and, hopefully, perhaps even to other Arab countries. If the American people don't want to stick with him, they can vote him out of office in November. He says he looks forward to the campaign.

And so the lines are drawn. For better or worse, Bush is staking his presidency on Iraq. If the U.S.-led coalition can quell the current violence there, significantly reduce the casualty count and hand over civil control of the nation to an Iraqi governing body by the June 30 deadline, he'll be tough to beat in November.

If not, then voters might well decide to give the "other guy" - John Kerry - a chance to clean up the mess.

Other issues aren't likely to play a major part in the campaign. The economy? That's not going to hurt Bush; in fact, it's likely to be a small plus for him. Barring a catastrophe, the economy for the rest of the year should continue to recover to the good health it had in the 1990s.

The unemployment rate, as well as other key economic data, are about the same now as they were when Bill Clinton was president. It's simply not credible for Democrats and their echo chambers in the so-called "mainstream media" to argue that an economy which they described as great under Clinton is somehow awful under Bush.

The other big issues Kerry Democrats would like to stir up against Bush are health care, Medicare, Social Security, and the environment. Domestic issues have always been Democrats' strength.

National security and homeland security have traditionally been Republicans' strength - and it is on those issues that the election will probably turn. But that doesn't mean it's a slam dunk for the GOP.

If there is little or no improvement in Iraq, John Kerry and the Democrats could very well be the beneficiaries at the polls in November.

Revell, by the way, won his bet.


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