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Feb 17, 2006 11:13 pm

The Perot Legacy

Interesting review in today's New Republic about how to interpret the political legacy of the 1992-6 Ross Perot movement. It remains amazing to think back that a man who was, shall we say, creative in his interpretation of reality actually led in 1992 polls, albeit only for a brief period.

As Marty Peretz notes, the Perot phenomenon seems to benefit the GOP, but in Slate, Mickey Kaus proposes a Democratic alternative: run in 2008 on a campaign slogan of"Return to Normalcy." The central premise of the proposal:"Bush has stretched the military, the Constitution and the civility of our politics to the limit in reaction to the threat of future 9/11s."

Given the margin of victory enjoyed by the last candidate to run on such a slogan, Kaus might be onto something. There are some similarities between Bush and Wilson, in that both abused constitutional norms in pursuit of national security and governed in highly partisan fashions. One big difference, though: WW was repudiated by the Senate with the defeat of Versailles, but the Dems nonetheless nominated a strongly pro-Wilson ticket. Bush is unlikely to experience such a complete repudiation, nor is it clear that the GOP 2008 ticket will consist of Bush acolytes.

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Oscar Chamberlain - 2/18/2006

Actually, that's a very American vision of reality. Change what you want to change; ignore what you want to ignore. Claim victory and let others clean up.

It works, too, sort of.

Consider global warming. By energetically ingoring and/or undercutting any possible way to effect it, the administration may well have succeeded in shifting the debate from how to fix it to how to embrace it.

And it will be very, very hard for a successor administration to change that.

Kevin C. Murphy - 2/18/2006

Even more amazing, an administration that's, shall we say, creative in its interpretation of reality has actually been in power for over five years now.

Wilson, according to Amos Pinchot, put "his enemies in office and his friends in jail." Would that were true of Dubya.

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