POLITICS – BEYOND HUMAN DECENCY?
April 22, 2003
IN THIS ISSUE:
1. The Presidential Campaign Gets Going.
2. The “Hate Bush” Crowd Is Flailing.
3. Wishing For Things To Go Wrong.
4. Big Surprises In The TV Ratings.
5. The Economy & The Markets.
The 2004 presidential campaign officially begins on May 3rd with the first public debate among Democrat hopefuls. In this issue, we will start by looking at some of the problems and issues facing the Democrats, and especially their leadership.
More importantly, we will also look at what I consider to be some disturbing trends in politics. There are those who actually wished the war in Iraq had gone badly because it would have hurt President Bush and his chances for re-election. As you will read below, there were some who say they wished more American servicemen and women had died in the war, just to hurt Bush. I am appalled at this, and I feel compelled to address this issue head-on.
While I am not a member of any political party and never have been, I’ve been an avid follower of politics all of my adult life. While I do admit to being a conservative on most issues, I’ve never been shy about criticizing conservatives or liberals. This week, it’s the liberals (or at least some of them) I take aim at.
Given that this E-Letter will no doubt spark a large response, let me pre-answer the following question. Why do you write about politics? A) because I find it very interesting; and B) because politics can and does affect the investment markets.
Whether you are a conservative or a liberal (or neither), I hope you read this issue. You may not have seen that there are those who wished the war had gone badly and that more of our brave troops would have died. The mainstream press ignored it.
Dems Face An Uphill Battle
The Democrats have announced that their first presidential debate will be held on May 3 in South Carolina, some 17 months before the election in 2004. Why so early? Nine candidates will be included in the debate. President Bush, meanwhile, is enjoying soaring approval ratings, both in his overall job rating and his handling of the war with Iraq. Many believe it will be impossible to unseat Bush in 2004, while others hope he will suffer the same fate as his father, Bush 41.
The Democrats find themselves in a tough position. Not only is Bush very popular, the Dems are now viewed by many as the anti-war party as well as being weak on national security. I will discuss how this came to be below.
One of the reasons the Dems are starting their debates so early (the earliest ever) is that they have no obvious nominee, no one person who is the clear choice to face a very popular president. Another reason for the early kick-off is the Dems need a forum in which to bash Bush. It has not paid to bash this president, especially in recent months.
Of course, this has not stopped several Democrat leaders from criticizing President Bush in recent weeks, even to the detriment of their own party. Here are just a few.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said she has “absolutely no regret about my vote [on] this war. The cost in human lives. The cost to our budget. We could have probably brought down that statue for a lot less.”
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle said, “I am saddened, saddened that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we’re now forced to war. Saddened that we have to give up one life because this president couldn't create the kind of diplomatic effort that was so critical for our country.”
And Senator John Kerry (D-MA) called for “a regime change in the United States.” Incredibly, he suggested that the Bush administration is a “regime.” It backfired!
These and other critical comments from high profile Democrats have left the public believing that the Dems are anti-war. This is unfortunate (for the Dems) given that recent polls show a majority of Democrat voters approve of the war with Iraq.
Other Dems have spoken out against these anti-war/anti-Bush statements. Leon Panetta, the former Clinton White House chief of staff, is disturbed by what he hears from his party’s leaders. He said:
“Democrats have to acknowledge what’s happened in Iraq. The fact is that changing the government of Saddam Hussein was the right thing to do… One of the problems we face as Democrats is not having a clear position. Democrats must not be viewed as weak on national security and terrorism. That’s not a good place to be going into this election.”
I’d say that about sums it up, Mr. Panetta. Dems like Ms. Pelosi, Sen. Daschle and the others are pandering to their party’s core ultra-liberal, anti-war bloc, which is out of step with a majority of Democrats and the general electorate.
The Hate-Bush, Liberal Agenda
As I stated in the April 1, 2003 edition of this E-Letter, many liberals literally hate George W. Bush and wish the worst for his presidency. It appears that much of this disdain still stems from liberals’ perception that Bush was not legitimately elected, so he has no right to hold office. I guess it doesn’t matter that the Republicans also swept the mid-term elections; they still believe Bush shouldn’t be president.
Apparent in the Dem’s leadership posturing to-date has been the hope that George W. Bush will repeat the failings of his father by neglecting the economy and hoping to coast to a second term only on wartime popularity. The Dems are making sure that the economy is one of the prominent issues being discussed now that the war with Iraq has taken a back stage in the news. To their credit, the economy is a legitimate issue.
The only problem is that the economy is not exactly cooperating this time. While not going gangbusters, the US economy is plodding along at a slow growth rate. GDP rose by 2.4% in 2002, and most economists now expect a first-quarter GDP growth rate in the 1½-2% range. We are clearly not in a double-dip recession.
Yet you certainly wouldn’t know the economy is on the mend from what we hear in the mainstream news media. Negative news about the economy gets top billing, while reports of improvement are generally minimized or not reported at all. With the election season starting so early, expect the liberal media to continue to negatively characterize the economy and blame the Bush administration for all its problems.
Wishing For Things To Go Wrong
Before the war began, there were daily doses of dire, worst-case predictions about the war with Iraq, given by everyone from Congressional Democrats to Hollywood celebrities to the mainstream media. Those predictions, we now know, were roundly unbased. And we are now left to wonder if they were only hopes for an outcome that would dislodge President Bush’s popularity.
Some liberals actually wished that the war in Iraq would turn out to be a long, bloody battle costing America lots of casualties and billions of dollars. That would teach Bush a lesson and turn the American public against him.
You might think it’s awfully arrogant of me to assume this mindset on the part of some liberals, especially since doing so would imply that they actually wished for more American servicemen and women to be killed in action. However, this suggestion comes - not from me - but from some of the liberals themselves. Here is just one example. Salon.com is a widely read, very liberal online magazine. In the April 11, 2003 Salon article, Gary Kamiya, Salon’s Executive Editor, wrote:
“I have a confession: I have at times, as the war has unfolded, secretly wished for things to go wrong. Wished for the Iraqis to be more nationalistic, to resist longer. Wished for the Arab world to rise up in rage. Wished for all the things we feared would happen.” WOW!
Before the war, they told us what was wrong: 1) We didn’t have a coherent war plan; 2) we didn’t have enough troops in the area to get the job done; 3) Hussein would use chemical or biological weapons on our troops, or even on his own people; 4) there would be a long period of bloody house-to-house combat in Baghdad with significant American and Iraqi casualties; and 5) Iraq would launch missiles into Israel, Israel would retaliate, with the possibility of drawing several other Arab countries into the fray, again resulting in more American casualties. While there were other warnings, these are the most-repeated ones that I heard from the left.
Now, as noted above, some of the more cynical liberals are even admitting that they wished the war had gone as badly as they predicted. Thus, is there any wonder that this faction of the liberal community appears to be totally OUT OF TOUCH with the general population? Who in their right mind could think this way?
Of course, you might simply disregard Kamiya’s opinions as those of just one particular extremely liberal writer, and not the feelings of other liberals. Well, I thought that too, until I read more of what he wrote:
“I’m not alone. A number of serious, intelligent, morally sensitive people who oppose the war have told me they have had identical feelings.”
He goes on to say that more American casualties would have been a preferred alternative to the “larger moral negative” of a victory that boosted President Bush’s chances for re-election.
To be fair, Kamiya does admit to “feeling guilty” about his feelings now. However, his “confession” points to a larger issue. Politics has now gone beyond the realm of human decency when one group, liberals in this case, actually wishes for more US young men and women to die in order to harm the political fortune of the president. Of course, it would have been equally reprehensible for conservatives to hope for the failure of US forces in Kosovo to humiliate the Clinton administration.
Most conservatives resented many things about Bill Clinton’s eight years as president. But I cannot remember a time that conservatives ever wished that his “nation-building” escapades would result in the deaths of more American servicemen and women – just so Clinton could be defeated.
The question is not whether this writer – Kamiya - or any other liberal feels guilty about opinions expressed prior to the war. The question is whether they actually learned anything about how to think and write in the future. I’m not optimistic, at least as long as President Bush is in office.
What Else Do Liberals Hope For?
Knowing that there are liberals out there who do not care about the loss of life just so they get their own way, I wonder what other wishes the liberals have. We know that some liberals privately hope the economy weakens between now and the 2004 election, thus increasing their chances of defeating Bush. We know, as discussed above, that some liberals hoped the war would go badly, for the same reasons. It makes you wonder what else they may be hoping for.
Do they hope that the US attacks Syria and they use chemical and biological weapons on our troops? Do they hope that North Korea launches a nuclear attack on its neighbors (or the US) to show that Bush’s policy toward them has failed? God forbid, do they hope for another terrorist attack on US soil that kills thousands of innocent people – in the hope that the public would decide Bush has not been effective in keeping Americans safe? Do the liberals hate Bush that much?
Before I saw this article from Salon.com, the latest revelations from CNN’s Eason Jordan (see link below) and other comments from the liberal left, I would never have dared think these things about liberals. I find it appalling that anyone would harbor such thoughts and feelings, much less express them in writing.
I hope that these people, like Kamiya and others, do not represent the mainstream of liberal opinion but are only a small faction within the liberal community at large. In fairness, the conservative community has its small faction of whackos as well.
Does The American Public Get It? YES.
I have written often in these E-Letters about the liberal bias of the mainstream media. [Remember, you can monitor this bias daily at Media Research Center CyberAlert at www.mediaresearch.org.] The question is, has the American public begun to realize the level of liberal bias there is in the mainstream media? The answer appears to be YES.
During the wall-to-wall coverage of the war in Iraq, we saw a major shift in American media/news habits. CBS’s viewership dropped 15% from pre-war totals, while ABC fell 6%. Meanwhile, the Fox News Channel audience rose 236 percent!
On morning TV, the cable news show Fox and Friends actually drew 2.9 million viewers, more than CBS’s 2.8 million on its Early Show. This was the first time a cable news program beat a network news program in the ratings. Among younger viewers (18-34), CBS Evening News fell 16% while Fox News Channel gained 500%!
Reportedly, the biggest loser of all was The New York Times, formerly the newspaper of record, but now reduced - in full public view - to a newspaper of the political opposition. Its readers got to see, in plain view, the paper’s pessimism and bias against the Bush administration.
While the vast majority of Americans still get most of their news from the major networks – ABC, NBC and CBS – it is clear that many Americans are shifting to news outlets that they consider less biased. The major networks are getting the message that their liberal leanings are not popular with mainstream America, and especially younger viewers. The question is, will they change? The answer is, yes – if these viewership trends continue - but don’t hold your breath.
The Economy & The Markets
For several weeks, I have been predicting a rebound in consumer confidence after the war that would help boost the economy and maybe even the stock markets. The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index jumped in early April from 77.6 to 83.2. That puts the Index roughly back to where it was at the beginning of the year. It will be interesting to see the government’s Consumer Confidence Index when it comes out.
There is another key economic report - the government’s first estimate of 1Q GDP – that is due out this Friday. To hear the media, that report should show close to ZERO growth. However, as noted earlier, most economists expect the number to come in around 1½-2% for the 1Q. If the 1Q GDP number is 2% or higher, that could go a long way toward improving consumer confidence even more. (What will the media say then?)
The stock markets have improved modestly, with the Dow Jones advancing 1,000 points from 7,500 to 8,500. Most analysts fear that the “war rally” is just about over, and we’re now back to the real world of disappointing earnings. Maybe so. But if the GDP report on Friday is 2% or higher, I expect that will give the markets more momentum on the upside. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that we get some good eco news on Friday. I’ll talk about that more next week.
All the best,
Gary D. Halbert
Forecasts & Trends E-Letter is published by ProFutures, Inc. Gary D. Halbert is the president and CEO of ProFutures, Inc. and is the editor of this publication. Information contained herein is taken from sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed as to its accuracy. Opinions and recommendations herein generally reflect the judgement of Gary D. Halbert (or another named author) and may change at any time without written notice. Market opinions contained herein are intended as general observations and are not intended as specific investment advice. Readers are urged to check with their investment counselors before making any investment decisions. This electronic newsletter does not constitute an offer of sale of any securities. Gary D. Halbert, ProFutures, Inc., and its affiliated companies, its officers, directors and/or employees may or may not have investments in markets or programs mentioned herein. Past results are not necessarily indicative of future results. Reprinting for family or friends is allowed with proper credit. However, republishing (written or electronically) in its entirety or through the use of extensive quotes is prohibited without prior written consent.