So the Bush campaign is launched. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that he’s draping himself in 9/11 as his main theme. You can be rightfully disgusted, but not surprised. It creates an interesting problem of balance for him though.
In reality, his presidency is entirely defined by 9/11 and wars which he launched following it. He has nothing else. Were he running solely on his domestic record and the economy, he’d be roadkill. He can’t make the mistake his dad did. His dad ended the war and then had to defend his future value based on the rest of his legacy. Bush needs the war, a war, even the perception of an ongoing war to secure his reelection.
So where’s the problem? His wars are over, excepting the increasingly ugly aftermaths. What remains is the nebulous “War on Terrorism.” For Bush to win in November, he needs to convince America that the war exists, is necessary, and that changing leaders mid-war would be a disaster. Curiously, this means he needs to incite fear that more terror is coming, and at the same time convince us he has done an exceptional job of keeping us safe from it. He needs to position himself as personally being the thing that keep that wolf back from our door.
Running in his favor is the sad truth that emotion sells well in this country, and fear is among the most powerful emotions. It will be interesting to see if people’s intellects can conquer their fears.