One year ago last month, President George Bush stood high above the political landscape surveying the spoils of victory from the Gulf War. At his feet stood an adoring multitude of American patriots thrilled by this long-waited demonstration of our nation’s strength and conviction, and awed by the man who had so skillfully orchestrated it. Under his feet lay a subservient Republican Party and a devastated Democratic Party cowed into silence by Bush’s 89% approval rating and the fear of being labeled unpatriotic for any opposition to the triumphant Commander-in-chief.
Bush’s post-Gulf War popularity was powerful enough to convince the most disillusioned Republican conservatives that any attempt to oppose his re-election would be ludicrous. It was powerful enough to frighten away all the major democratic presidential aspirants: Jackson, Gephardt, Gore, Bentsen, Nunn, Rockefeller and Cuomo. Bush’s international bravado was sufficient to send nearly all of his political opponents fleeing to their foxholes to lick their wounds for another four years.
But oh, how seasons change! Just one year later, despite the nearly comatose state of almost all his “loyal” opposition across the political spectrum, President Bush seems ready to snatch a dramatic defeat from the jaws of certain victory. The same George Bush who drew a line in the sands of Saudi Arabia in August 1990, betrayed his famous “read my lips” promise just weeks later by signing the largest tax increase in history.
And with every percentage drop in sales, salaries and home values, and every sharp increase in the unemployment rate, personal bankruptcies and home foreclosures, Bush’s once stratospheric approval rating has sunk lower and lower. This once unthinkable cave-in has inspired one irresistible Republican and five second-string Democrats to enter the presidential derby trumpeting the common theme that the emperor has no clothes.
As the sitting president, George Bush’s character and ideals are well known. We have all had ample opportunity to see him in action and evaluate his merits. Unfortunately, his six major opponents (Buchanan, Brown, Clinton, Harkin, Kerrey and Tsongas) are largely unknown quantities for most voters outside the candidates’ home states, or in Pat Buchanan’s case, for those who are not aficionados of Crossfire, The Capitol Gang, or the McLaughlin Group.
To bridge this early familiarity gap, The Forerunner will run a special Election 1992 series highlighting each one of the major party candidates. We’ll also take a look at one serious third party candidate, Howard Phillips of the U.S. Taxpayers Alliance, and one perhaps too well known fringe candidate, David Duke.
We will not to examine every item in the candidate’s laundry list of opinions and proposals. Rather, we will focus on the character of these men, and will attempt to distill and critique the quintessential principles that motivate them, comparing their worldviews against biblical standards.
This month the spotlight is on Pat Buchanan and Howard Phillips.