Tuesday, October 7, 2008

1992 All Over Again? Maybe....

Rich Lowry of National Review and William McGurn of the Wall Street Journal both lament the possibility of a 1992 replay this election. I have as well when I said this about a month ago:

Since 1992 at age 22, I've been following Presidential Elections with a great
deal of attention. If there is an incumbent Republican in the White House, its
time to talk “recession/worst economy since Herbert Hoover”, facts be damned
and, second, here comes the charismatic Democrat talking change. The media had
tremendous success anointing Bill Clinton as president in 1992, with the
constant false drumbeat of "economic decline", worst economy since the Great
Depression. By summer of 1992 the US economy was already rebounding, but the
tools of Clinton Inc in the media would have none of it. They continue to allow
Clinton and Gore to hammer the "bad economy" theme seemingly unchallenged. What was Clinton’s remedy for this “weak economy”? You guessed it, endless discussion of “change” trumpeted throughout the media, with assurances that those in the middle class were “not going to be taxed.” And of course, we all remember the inevitable speech (I think it was even prior to inauguration) that, try as he might, he (Clinton) was unable to avoid asking more from you (ie, taxes).
History may be repeating itself.
but, this time, some things are different.

First, in 1992, what we know as the "alternative media" was pretty much non-existant. With the exception of a few talk radio outlets - a very few, I might add, maybe nothing more than Rush Limbaugh - the Mainstream Media (MSM) had a pretty fair run of ruling popular perception of facts. Today, not so much: just ask Dan Rather. The reason? The blogosphere. Outlets such as Newsbusters and other websites offer opinions that challenge the conventional wisdom of the MSM. Would Obama's opponents be as empowered today with knowledge of the kooks and haters that surround him in 1992 as they are today? I doubt it.

Second, its a post-9/11 world and the Democrats know that they are vulnerable on national security issues. Conservatives tried their absolute best to warn the public about what Bill Clinton would do to the military. But with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, and with the ghost of Vietnam largely purged from the American psyche thanks to Desert Storm, voters didn't feel particularly vulnerable and voted on "that middle class tax cut".

Third, and maybe to a lesser extent, Bill Clinton had executive experience and was a Southern Democrat. Obama, like John Kerry, Michael Dukakis and Walter Mondale, is part of the liberal northern establishment. This makes it difficult - particularly post-9/11 - for the Democrats to woo Blue Dog (Reagan) Democrats. I think a lot of these polls that show Obama with 7 and 8 point leads are as reliable as John Kerry's favorable ratings in exit polls in 2004. This is why I have always been suspicious of polling data - too easy to manipulate in too many ways. The poll that counts, however, is on election day, Australian style.

Lastly, and most importantly, I think, is the Perot factor that was existent in '92 and '96 is non-existent in this election. A lot of the vote that went to Perot was the anti-Democrat vote that was disaffected with the leadership of George HW Bush in 1992. Same with the voters that supported Perot in 1996, to a lesser extent, because of their distrust of the two parties.

I do want to make one prediction, however, should Obama win the nomination. Remember late 1992, early 1993? Remember that President (may have been President-elect) Clinton had worked "harder than he ever had in his life" but you weren't going to get that middle class tax cut. What followed was, from what I remember, a daily and weekly barrage of "meet this months new tax". This month it was the BTU tax. Next month, yet another tax. The laughable thing was so many of us on the right called him on it before he was elected. This is what I reference in the quote above from last month's post.

Predicition, and I thing McGurn would agree: IF Obama wins the election, grab your ankles. He's going to "all of a sudden discover that, its worse than he'd first thought." He'll say he had no idea the cashflow problem that this $700B bailout was going to create for the government, and he's going to ask you to be patriotic, think of America before yourself (County First, to borrow a phrase) and he's going to raise taxes on everyone, including those how make well below $100K/year. Stand by. Its going to happen.