T Nation

Former Bush Supporters Switching to Kerry

This thread is to compile a running tally of the moderate Republicans and former Bush supporters who are supporting a Kerry win.

It seems that there is a huge rift in the GOP, with the party currently being dominated by the more extreme voices: the Limbaughs, Coulters, Bushes, Falwells, DeLays, Santorums of the party.

Anybody remember when President Nixon signed legislation to clean up the environment, and legislation to promote civil rights? By current Bush-Limbaugh Republican standards, that qualifies Nixon (a Republican) as a Hippy, Liberal, Socialist, Commie and Traitor.

I feel sorry for true conservatives who have put all their eggs in the “Bush basket”. Bush is not a true conservative, as evidenced by his runaway spending, pre-emptive war, his intention to alter the Constitution, and other (dare I say) radical policies.

However, it seems that more moderate forces in the party are starting to fight to take their party back. Step #1 might very well be for moderate Republicans to turn against George Bush.

Like I said, this thread will compile an ongoing tally regarding conservatives and other former supporters of Bush who are rethinking their support.

Switching Sides, Iacocca Endorses Kerry
‘Our country needs a change’
Friday, June 25, 2004

SAN JOSE, California (CNN)
Former Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca, who backed President Bush four years ago, switched sides and endorsed Democratic Sen. John Kerry for president Thursday.

“I’m here today because our country needs a change in leadership,” Iacocca said during an appearance with Kerry. “We need a leader who is really dedicated to creating millions of high-paying jobs all across the country.”

Iacocca, a self-described independent, stumped for Bush in Michigan and Pennsylvania in 2000. He also appeared in a statewide Republican television ad in Michigan, warning voters that “Al Gore’s extreme ideas about cars could cost a lot of Michigan families their jobs.”

But Thursday, Iacocca said he is changing sides because he was attracted to Kerry’s economic plan, including his job creation proposals. He also said the presumptive Democratic nominee both understands change and will “level” with the American people about how to adapt to that change.

Kerry called Iacocca “a man of common sense – a CEO of common sense – and I am proud to have his counsel and his support.”

“There are few men more respected, not just in corporate America but in all of America, than Lee Iacocca,” Kerry said.

According to a Kerry source, the campaign has been buoyed by Iacocca’s support and “thinks it’s a signal of things to come in demonstrating Kerry’s bipartisan appeal.”

Kerry himself frequently highlights his work with Republicans. During a stroll along the Atlantic City, New Jersey, boardwalk last week, he chatted briefly with a New Jersey voter promising her that he would be releasing a list of GOP supporters “soon.”

Iacocca openly criticized former President Reagan in the mid-1980s for growing budget deficits, saying government spending was “getting out of hand” – a criticism Kerry frequently levels at Bush.

In his appearance with Iacocca, Kerry unveiled a plan to bolster the high-tech industry, including increasing government funding for university research and math and science education.

The $30 billion plan, which also calls for expanding broadband networks and promoting information technology, would be paid for by accelerating the implementation of digital television, for which money would be raised through public auctions of the broadcast spectrum.

http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/06/24/iacocca.kerry/

from the Orlando sentinel:
Vote For A Man, Not A Puppet
Charley Reese
Friday, May 21, 2004

Americans should realize that if they vote for President Bush’s re-election, they are really voting for the architects of war Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and the rest of that cabal of neoconservative ideologues and their corporate backers. I have sadly come to the conclusion that President Bush is merely a front man, an empty suit, who is manipulated by the people in his administration. Bush has the most dangerously simplistic view of the world of any president in my memory.

It’s no wonder the president avoids press conferences like the plague. Take away his cue cards and he can barely talk. Americans should be embarrassed that an Arab king (Abdullah of Jordan) spoke more fluently and articulately in English than our own president at their joint press conference recently.
John Kerry is at least an educated man, well-read, who knows how to think and who knows that the world is a great deal more complex than Bush’s comic-book world of American heroes and foreign evildoers. It’s unfortunate that in our poorly educated country, Kerry’s very intelligence and refusal to adopt simplistic slogans might doom his presidential election efforts.
But Thomas Jefferson said it well, as he did so often, when he observed that people who expect to be ignorant and free expect what never was and never will be.

People who think of themselves as conservatives will really display their stupidity, as I did in the last election, by voting for Bush. Bush is as far from being a conservative as you can get. Well, he fooled me once, but he won’t fool me twice.

It is not at all conservative to balloon government spending, to vastly increase the power of government, to show contempt for the Constitution and the rule of law, or to tell people that foreign outsourcing of American jobs is good for them, that giant fiscal and trade deficits don’t matter, and that people should not know what their government is doing.

Bush is the most prone-to-classify, the most secretive president in the 20th century. His administration leans dangerously toward the authoritarian. It’s no wonder that the Justice Department has convicted a few Arab-Americans of supporting terrorism. What would you do if you found yourself arrested and a federal prosecutor whispers in your ear that either you can plea-bargain this or the president will designate you an enemy combatant and you’ll be held incommunicado for the duration?

This election really is important, not only for domestic reasons, but because Bush’s foreign policy has been a dangerous disaster. He’s almost restarted the Cold War with Russia and the nuclear arms race. America is not only hated in the Middle East, but it has few friends anywhere in the world thanks to the arrogance and ineptness of the Bush administration.
Don’t forget, a scientific poll of Europeans found us, Israel, North Korea and Iran as the greatest threats to world peace.

I will swallow a lot of petty policy differences with Kerry to get a man in the White House with brains enough not to blow up the world and us with it. Go to Kerry’s Web site (www.johnkerry.com) and read some of the magazine profiles on him. You’ll find that there is a great deal more to Kerry than the GOP attack dogs would have you believe.

[Yawn]

I’m not going to bother compiling a list of people who are changing to Bush because they don’t see the Democrats as a viable alternative because of national security. Too much effort, because it is too long a list of liberal-leaning former Gore supporters.

People change their opinions all the time: why should politics be different? Come talk to me after the only poll that counts: the one the first Thursday in November.

Actually, I agree with some of this. I don’t think Bush is a true conservative in my definition.

But if I’m a ‘true’ conservative faced with a choice between a semi-conservative and a true liberal, why would I vote the latter?

And btw, there are lists of folks who voted for Gore in 2000 that are voting for Bush in 2004 (former Gore supporters). There’s a lot of back and forth and it’s impossible to make generalizations. I don’t think there is one seismic shift over the other. The only way to know, as BostonBarrister notes, is when they close the polls in November.

Lumpy, you’re right, Bush doesn’t seem like a true conservative. But considering the choices: a former radical liberal, who is trying to make himself over to appear more moderate for the election, and an off the wall conservative. I think I will have to vote to put Bush back in office.

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
I’m not going to bother compiling a list of people who are changing to Bush because they don’t see the Democrats as a viable alternative because of national security. [/quote]

What makes Bush so strong on national security? I think this is cliche (largely because the Admin. claims it is strong, we assume it’s strong).

What has he done to make our country more secure?

How about on the homeland?

Doesn’t the many missed opportunities prior to 9/11 indicate his ignorance until he was smacked in the face with three jetliners? The vacation? The ignored 8.6 memo? The lack of meetings?

RSU,

“What has he done to make our country more secure?”

This is a legitimate question?

Rather than run through the laundry list that has been presented before - terrorist prosecutions, no attack on domestic soil, taking the war to the enemy, etc. - I want to take a different tact.

I thought Bush’s critics believed Bush was actually doing too much to make the homeland safe, including putting our civil liberties in jeopardy just to catch the bad guys.

Well, which is it, folks? Is Bush an inept clueless figurehead who has nothing to make the US safer…or he is the dark, conniving emperor who has sacrificed our liberties in pursuit of his tireless quest to persecute his enemies?

The much-maligned Patriot Act strengthens the ability of the government to investigate terror suspects. Whether you like the Act or not, it’s clear it gives Bush more power to create order and safety.

How can Bush both be doing too much and too little to make a safer homeland?

The Left needs a collective dose of Ritalin.

“Doesn’t the many missed opportunities prior to 9/11 indicate his ignorance until he was smacked in the face with three jetliners?”

This, too, is a great contradiction. If Bush had started aggressively going after terrorists (primarily overseas, where they have sanctuary), the Left would have started shrieking like schoolgirls that Bush has no right to pre-emptively attack those countries harboring terror, especially based on weak and incomplete intelligence.

Had Bush gone straight away after terrorists at home and around the world, he would have been
chastised and ridiculed for being an imperialist and a belligerent - and calls for impeachment would he heard from New York City to San Francisco.

So, here we are again: first Leftists complain that Bush has been too aggressive, waging war, pissing allies off, bombing indiscriminately, engaging in pre-emptive war. And now, we get Bush’s critics complaining that Bush wasn’t aggressive enough, that he did not roll out an aggressive and ruthless pre-9/11 plan fast enough for their liking.

So, I ask again, which is it? What would you have said if Bush went after OBL and the Taliban they day after he was inaugurated?

As usual, they want to have it both ways. As usual, upon scrutiny, it falls apart.

RSU -

Had the WTC crumbled back in 1993, instead of 2003, would you still hold to these arguments?

Had the Achille-Laural (sp is wrong - I know) completely sunk, and killed all aboard, would Clinton get this same judgement from you?

I’m not saying that security was any tighter in the Bush admin pre 9-11. He got caught being as lax as all his predecessors, and made to be the scapegoat.

Had he known back in January where, when, how, and who about 9/11, You would have probably seen a huge difference in his approach to terrorism.

Hindsight makes for a perfect monday morning quarteback.

[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:

Well, which is it, folks? Is Bush an inept clueless figurehead who has nothing to make the US safer…or he is the dark, conniving emperor who has sacrificed our liberties in pursuit of his tireless quest to persecute his enemies?

How can Bush both be doing too much and too little to make a safer homeland?[/quote]

Gee, domestic security is an incredibly broad issue. Are you really saying it’s impossible to do too much in one area, and not enough in another?

Even conservatives are alarmed about how the Patriot Act infringes on our Constitutional rights. This is not a partisan issue!

As far as not doing enough for domestic security, as a New Yorker I am keenly aware of how domestic security is underfunded!

During the 9-11 commission hearings, it was revealed that New York state is at the bottom of the list in per-capita spending on security. Near the top of the spending was states like Wyoming. The GOP-dominated Congress is using the domestic security issue to pass out pork!

Do you think Wyoming is at risk of a terrorist attack? Give me a break!

New York City is underfunded by 900 million dollars, according to the post-911 recommendations. Three years after 9-11, New York City still does not have the tools, the training or the funding to keep ourselves safe, according to the post-911 studies. Again, this is NOT a partisan issue. Former Mayor Giuliani is a Republican, and so is current Mayor Bloomberg.

You know that campaign saying of Kerry’s, “Bush should not be opening fire stations in Baghdad, and closing fire stations in Brooklyn”? That’s exactly the type of thing we are seeing in New York! In fact they closed the only fire station in my neighborhood. That is just a simple example, but there is an alarming lack of funding and support for domestic security here in NYC!!!

Sounds familiar. Isn’t that exactly what the Republicans in Congress did (bitch and moan) when Clinton bombed Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, or when he intervened in the Balkans?

"George Bush is not only not a good Republican, but he hasn’t been a good President.

Ronald Reagan said: “Trust but verify”. President George W. Bush started a war based on, (at best), a one-sided reading of badly-flawed intelligence. Doesn’t the President owe it to the American people to check his facts before starting a war?"

http://www.republicansforkerry.org

I cant believe people are stupid enough to re-elect Bush. I am so disenchanted with America. There just seems to be too many morons in this country. It’s a shame.

I’m not a liberal either. Just a person with good commom sense.

Lumpy,

http://democrats.bushblog.us/

“Democrats for Bush/Cheney 04”

What’s the point?

In fact, the Republican Convention will feature a Democrat speaking.

FrontFaceLook,

That’s your best argument?

Trump slams Bush
on Iraq

President Bush, you should be fired.

The Donald has turned thumbs down on the President’s war in Iraq, calling it a “mess.”

“What was the purpose of the whole thing?” Donald Trump asks in an Esquire interview. “Hundreds of young people killed. And what about the people coming back with no arms and no legs?”

“The Apprentice” star said it’s folly to think Iraq can be turned into a “wonderful democracy.”

The real estate baron said if he were President, Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden “would have been caught long ago.”

“Tell me, how is it possible that we can’t find a guy who’s 6-foot-6 and supposedly needs a dialysis machine?” Trump said. “Can you explain that one to me? We have all our energies focused on one place - where they shouldn’t be focused.”

Trump, a Republican, has flirted with the idea of running for President.

Forget the Democrats: Bush Losing Support Among Republicans
By TERESA HAMPTON & DOUG THOMPSON
Jun 18, 2004,

As President George W. Bush tries to convince an increasingly skeptical American electorate he deserves re-election in November, he also faces declining support among his Republican base amid growing discord over his foreign and domestic policies.

The gloom among Republicans is deepening as President Bush falls behind Democratic nominee John F. Kerry, says University of Virginia Political Science Professor Larry J. Sabato. At the heart of the gloom is Iraq. Bush’s presidency is–by his own admission–inextricably bound to Iraq, and things are going very badly there, Sabato adds.

Bush’s Iraq woes deepened this week when the 9-11 Commission concluded no link existed between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. With the earlier claim of weapons of mass destruction already discredited, the commission’s finding removed the last of Bush’s questionable justifications for the war in Iraq.

Even Bush’s father, former President George H.W. Bush, refuses to publicly endorse his son’s Iraq war and an increasing number of prominent Republicans and Conservatives are straying off the reservation.

Among these is Bob Barr, a staunch conservative and former Republican Congressman from Georgia. However, Barr has teamed up with the American Civil Liberties Union to fight the USA Patriot Act, which he says infringes on rights of Americans, and is a frequent critic of other Bush policies, including immigration amnesty and the proposal for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

“The political right and left in America share one unfortunate habit,” Barr says. “When they don’t get their way in courts of law or state legislatures they immediately seek to undercut all opposition by proposing an amendment to the Constitution.”

Barr isn’t the only Republican to jump the GOP ship since Bush took the helm. Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey says the Justice Department under Bush has “become the biggest threat to personal liberty in the country.” Armey has joined Barr and the ACLU to fight the USA Patriot Act and a number of new Bush proposals to increase the powers of the Justice Department. So has conservative Phyllis Schlafly, head of the Eagle Forum.

Pat Buchanan, the firebrand conservative who ran against both Bushes in GOP primaries, joins the Bush bashers with his new book, Where the Right Went Wrong. Buchanan’s book, scheduled to be released just before the GOP convention this summer, blasts Bush for “igniting a war of civilizations.”

The Bush campaign took another hit this week when the family of late, and popular, President Ronald Reagan demanded Reagan’s image be removed from an conservative group’s ad endorsing Bush. The family has also told the Bush campaign it does not want the former President’s images and words used in any official campaign ads.

But it’s not just prominent Republicans who feel uneasy about the incumbent GOP President.

George Meagher of Charleston, South Carolina, is a veteran and lifelong Republican who, by his own admission, put his “heart and soul” into working for George W. Bush in 2000. Meagher organized veterans and once proudly displayed pictures of him and his wife with Bush.

No more. Meagher may vote Democratic this fall because he’s fed up with what he sees as lies and deceit by President Bush and the Republican leadership in Washington.
“I should be all choked up at not supporting the President,” says Meagher. “But when I think about the many Americans killed in a war, with what we’ve done to Iraq and with what we’ve done to our own country, I can’t see any other way. Look at it. We’re already $2 trillion in debt. Something has to be done.”

John Scarnado, a registered Republican and sales manager from Austin, Tex., voted for Bush in 2000 but now says he will vote for John Kerry if the Massachusetts Senator wins the Democratic nomination.

Scarnado cites Iraq and Vice President Dick Cheney’s ties to scandal-scarred Halliburton as two reasons he can’t vote for Bush again.

“It’s just too much old boy politics with the Bush administration,” Scarnado says. “I don’t like that.”

Neither does Londonderry, New Hampshire farmer Mike Cross, who voted Republican in 2000 and who says he doesn’t care much for John Kerry but has “had enough of George W. Bush.”

Pollsters agree, saying Bush’s declining approval ratings - now well below 50 percent - match the last three incumbent Presidents to lose their re-election bids – Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush.

“Bush is in dangerous territory now,” says GOP pollster John Zogby.

http://www.capitolhillblue.com/artman/publish/article_4705.shtml

“Some Key Conservatives Uneasy About Bush”
Sun Jul 11
By SCOTT LINDLAW, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - When an influential group of conservatives gathers in downtown Washington each week, they often get a political pep talk from a senior Bush administration official or campaign aide. They don’t expect a fellow Republican to deliver a blistering critique of President Bush (news - web sites)'s handling of the Iraq (news - web sites) war.

But nearly 150 conservatives listened in silence recently as a veteran of the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations ticked off a litany of missteps in Iraq by the Bush White House.

“This war is not going well,” said Stefan Halper, a deputy assistant secretary of state under President Reagan.

“It’s costing us a lot of money, isolating us from our allies and friends,” said Halper, who gave $1,000 to George W. Bush’s campaign and more than $83,000 to other GOP causes in 2000. “This is not the cakewalk the neoconservatives predicted. We were not greeted with flowers in the streets.”

Conservatives, the backbone of Bush’s political base, are increasingly uneasy about the Iraq conflict and the steady drumbeat of violence in postwar Iraq, Halper and some of his fellow Republicans say. The conservatives’ anxiety was fueled by the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal and has not abated with the transfer of political power to the interim Iraqi government.

Some Republicans fear angry conservatives will stay home in November, undercutting Bush’s re-election bid.

“I don’t think there’s any question that there is growing restiveness in the Republican base about this war,” said Halper, the co-author of a new book, “America Alone: The Neoconservatives and the Global Order.”

Some Republicans dismiss the rift as little more than an inside-the-Beltway spat among rival factions of the GOP intelligentsia. Indeed, conservatives nationwide are still firmly behind Bush. A Pew Research Center poll last month found that 97 percent of conservative Republicans favored Bush over Kerry.

But anger is simmering among some conservatives.

“I am bitterly disappointed in his actions with this war. It is a total travesty,” said Tom Hutchinson, 69, a self-described conservative from Sturgeon, Mo., who posted yard signs and staffed campaign phone banks for the Republican in 2000. Hutchinson said he did not believe the administration’s stated rationales for the war, in particular the argument that Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) had weapons of mass destruction.

Hutchinson, a retired businessman and former college professor, said his unease with Iraq may lead him to do something he has not done since 1956: avoid the voting booth in a presidential election.

Jack Walters, 59, a self-described “classical conservative” from Columbia, Mo., said he hadn’t decided which candidate to vote for.

“Having been through Vietnam, I thought no, never again,” Walters said. “But here comes the same thing again, and I’m old enough to recognize the lame reasons given for going into Iraq, and they made me ill.”

The tension has been building in official Washington, where conservative members of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees have pressed the administration for answers on combat operations; disagreed with the Pentagon (news - web sites) on troop levels; and expressed frustration with an administration they feel has shown them disdain by withholding information.

Chief political adviser Karl Rove’s formula for re-election is primarily to push Bush’s conservative base to the polls.

Another administration official involved in Bush’s re-election effort has voiced concern that angry conservatives will sit out the election.

But Matthew Dowd, the Bush-Cheney campaign’s chief strategist, described the fear of losing conservative support as “just ludicrous.”

Bush is “as strong among conservative Republicans as any Republican president has been” - higher than President Reagan’s approval among conservatives during his re-election campaign of 1984, Dowd said.

Yet, Halper said his critical review on the administration’s performance on Iraq last week was met with expressions of support in the conservatives’ weekly meeting, which is closed to journalists.

The marquee speaker sent by the administration was Eric Ciliberti, who spent several weeks in Iraq this year and told the audience of broad progress being made there.

Ciliberti complained to the group that those in the news media were not reporting the positive developments out of Iraq. Ciliberti did not return several calls late in the past week from a reporter seeking his account.

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=536&ncid=536&e=4&u=/ap/20040711/ap_on_el_pr/bush_conservatives

Hey Lumpy, did Kerry get the usual 10 to 15 percent bump in the polls this week when he named his running mate?

No?

Howard Stern has a boat load of links about Bush. Whether you like Stern or not, check his site:

http://www.howardstern.com/bush.html

There’s enough in the heading: “The Truth About George Bush” to make even the most loyal of the GOP question the leadership ability of this danagerously ignorant man. This link is especially thought provoking:

http://www.takebackthemedia.com/bushnonazi.html

This was interesting…

http://www.glcq.com/

Republicans blast president on environment
By ERIK STETSON
Associated Press Writer

One of the Environmental Protection Agency’s earliest leaders, flanked by Republican state politicians, blasted the president’s record on the environment during a news conference organized by an anti-Bush environmental group.

Russell Train, a Republican, was the EPA’s second chief under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. But he said Bush’s record is so dismal he’s casting his presidential vote for Democrat John Kerry in November.

“It’s almost as if the motto of the administration in power today in Washington is not environmental protection, but polluter protection,” he said Monday. “I find this deeply disturbing.”

Bush supporters defended the president’s record. Tom Thomson, owner of Thomson Family Tree Farm in Orford, praised the Healthy Forests Initiative as good legislation that protects loggers as well as forests. He predicted current policies would have positive long-term effects.

Bush “has made progress over the last four years giving us cleaner air, water and land,” Thomson said in a statement.

Officials with the state’s Bush-Cheney campaign said sulfur dioxide emissions are down 9 percent, while nitrogen oxide emissions are down 13 percent. They added that the 2002 Farm Bill set aside more than $40 billion in conservation funding.

Environment2004, the environmental group, released a report Monday titled “Damaging the Granite State.” It criticizes presidential policies on energy, global warming, toxic waste and air and water pollution.

“It is the worst record in modern history, unfortunately,” said Aimee Christensen, the group’s executive director. “They are systematically weakening our keystone public health protections and undermining decades of bipartisan leadership on the environment.”

The report faults Bush’s energy policy, for example, for slashing renewable energy funding. According to the report, the cuts are holding back New Hampshire, which could produce 43 percent of its energy from wind power. The report also claims the state could add 5,000 jobs by 2020 with more renewable energy and efficiency investments.

The report cites such sources as federal and state agency reports as well as newspaper articles and advocacy-group studies.

The two Republican state politicians who spoke - Rep. Jim Pilliod, a pediatrician, and former Sen. Rick Russman, who once headed the Senate Environmental Committee, did not endorse Kerry. They said they participated to stress the importance of environmental issues.

Russman said funding was cut for cleanup work at two of the state’s 19 Superfund sites. He also said the administration’s standards would delay mercury emissions cleanup until at least 2018. Pilliod added that mothers and children are particularly vulnerable to mercury pollution.

Train also accused Bush of letting weakening the Clean Air Act. The record, he added, falls short of those set by former Republican presidents ranging from Theodore Roosevelt, who advocated creating national parks and forests, to George H.W. Bush, who supported new anti-air-pollution standards.

The Bush record is “appalling, with very, very few exceptions,” Train said. He described presidential policies as “geared to rolling back environmental protections.”

Environment2004 has been actively campaigning against Bush policies and has released a national report on its Web site criticizing them.

http://www.theunionleader.com/articles_showa.html?article=41086

Sorry to keep bumping this turkey up, but this story was too good not to post here:

"The Right Wing’s Deep, Dark Secret:
Some hope for a Bush loss, and here’s why."
Commentary
By John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, writers for the Economist, are co-authors of “The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America” (Penguin, 2004).

One of the secrets of conservative America is how often it has welcomed Republican defeats. In 1976, many conservatives saw the trouncing of the moderate Gerald Ford as a way of clearing the path for the ideologically pure Ronald Reagan in 1980. In November 1992, George H.W. Bush’s defeat provoked celebrations not just in Little Rock, where the Clintonites danced around to Fleetwood Mac, but also in some corners of conservative America.
“Oh yeah, man, it was fabulous,” recalled Tom DeLay, the hard-line congressman from Sugar Land, Texas, who had feared another “four years of misery” fighting the urge to cross his party’s too-liberal leader. At the Heritage Foundation, a group of right-wingers called the Third Generation conducted a bizarre rite involving a plastic head of the deposed president on a platter decorated with blood-red crepe paper.

There is no chance that Republicans would welcome the son’s defeat in the same way they rejoiced at the father’s. George W. is much more conservative than George H.W., and he has gone out of his way to throw red meat to each faction of the right: tax cuts for the anti-government conservatives, opposition to gay marriage and abortion for the social conservatives and the invasion of Iraq for the neoconservatives. Still, there are five good reasons why, in a few years, some on the right might look on a John Kerry victory as a blessing in disguise.

First, President Bush hasn’t been as conservative as some would like. Small-government types fume that he has increased discretionary government spending faster than Bill Clinton. Buchananite paleoconservatives, libertarians and Nelson Rockefeller-style internationalists are all furious – for their very different reasons – about Bush’s “war of choice” in Iraq. Even some neocons are irritated by his conduct of that war – particularly his failure to supply enough troops to make the whole enterprise work.

The second reason conservatives might cheer a Bush defeat is to achieve a foreign policy victory. The Bush foreign policy team hardly lacks experience, but its reputation has been tainted – by infighting, by bungling in Iraq and by the rows with Europe. For better or worse, many conservatives may conclude that Kerry, who has accepted most of the main tenets of Bush’s policy of preemption, stands a better chance than Bush of increasing international involvement in Iraq, of winning support for Washington’s general war on terror and even of forcing reform at the United Nations. After all, could Jacques, Gerhard and the rest of those limp-wristed continentals say no to a man who speaks fluent French and German and has just rid the world of the Toxic Texan?

The third reason for the right to celebrate a Bush loss comes in one simple word: gridlock. Gridlock is a godsend to some conservatives – it’s a proven way to stop government spending. A Kerry administration is much more likely to be gridlocked than a second Bush administration because the Republicans look sure to hang on to the House and have a better-than-even chance of keeping control of the Senate.

The fourth reason has to do with regeneration. Some conservatives think the Republican Party – and the wider conservative movement – needs to rediscover its identity. Is it a “small government” party, or does “big government conservatism” make sense? Is it the party of big business or of free markets? Under Bush, Western anti-government conservatives have generally lost ground to Southern social conservatives, and pragmatic internationalists have been outmaneuvered by neoconservative idealists. A period of bloodletting might help, returning a stronger party to the fray.

And that is the fifth reason why a few conservatives might welcome a November Bush-bashing: the certain belief that they will be back, better than ever, in 2008. The conservative movement has an impressive record of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Ford’s demise indeed helped to power the Reagan landslide; “Poppy” Bush’s defeat set up the Gingrich revolution. In four years, many conservatives believe, President Kerry could limp to destruction at the hands of somebody like Colorado Gov. Bill Owens.

When the British electorate buried President Bush’s hero, Winston Churchill, and his Conservative Party, Lady Churchill stoically suggested the “blessing in disguise” idea to her husband. He replied that the disguise seemed pretty effective. Yet the next few years vindicated Lady Churchill’s judgment. The Labor Party, working with Harry S. Truman, put into practice the anti-communist containment policies that Churchill had championed. So in 1951, the Conservative Party could return to office with an important piece of its agenda already in place and in a far fitter state than it had been six years earlier. It held office for the next 13 years.