Mad About You

Election '04

George Bush doesn't understand why people don't like him.

Isn't that sort of sad? I imagine him as a kid, fingers poked through a chain-link fence, watching the other kids play softball. That image is heartbreaking, or would be, if we weren't talking about George W. Bush.

See, I'm one of those people, described in a recent AP story by Nancy Benac, whose anger at George W and his crew is as intense as jabanero nasal spray. There are a number of people who feel this way. Benac quotes one woman who said she'd vote for a dog if it could beat Bush. It was the most heartwarming thing I've read since "Little Women."

The most interesting part of the article is where GOP pollster Frank Luntz says the anger is helping the Democratic party by unifying it, but also warns that it could backfire as it did on the Republicans when Bill Clinton was impeached. "People got more angry at those yelling at the president than at the president himself," Luntz cautions. "You could easily see the same thing happening here.''

For a moment I considered this. Certainly, anger is energizing, but it's also true that cool heads often prevail. No one likes a whiner, but the squeaky wheel, etc., etc. I tossed these ideas back and forth when a light broke through: This tip was coming from a Republican pollster. I felt like Elmer Fudd on the verge of marrying Bugs Bunny when he catches sight of the little cotton tail.

Luntz is comparing apples and oranges. He may even be comparing apples and tripe. The reason Republican anger at Clinton backfired was because it was unwarranted, self-serving and counterproductive and we saw right through it. Clinton had a roving eye, but the country was still prosperous and peaceful. George Bush took the keys to the country, put the thing in reverse and has run over a lot of us on his backwards journey.

Bush himself doesn't understand why he makes people mad. Writes Benac: "Bush was asked about the anger in a recent interview on NBC and said he found it perplexing and disappointing. ''When you ask hard things of people, it can create tensions. And heck, I don't know why people do it,' he said."

Heck, I think he meant, "I don't know why people feel that way," but never mind. Bush hasn't asked hard things of anyone, he has imposed dreadful things on everyone. It's not just that he manhandled our formerly lush economy like a lobster would handle a Faberge egg, or his aggressive attempts to wed church and state, or even his war on Iraq, although they're all pretty juicy reasons.

I think the nucleus for this anger, which Benac also discusses, is the fact that most of us didn't want him. Those of us who felt our vote was treated with disdain in 2000, especially those of us who voted in Florida, have had that pea under our mattress for nearly four years. Reasons for being disgusted with the Bush presidency? I have half a million of them: That was the Democrat's win margin in 2000.

Maybe that's what makes me so suspect of a Republican pollster's passing comment about backfiring anger. It was probably just an offhand remark and not meant to harm. And so mulling it over I have a few offhand suggestions for Bush's re-election campaign, just to show there's no hard feelings.

- Revive widespread use of legendary campaign slogan: "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?"

- Propose Constitutional ammendment to change Hippocratic oath to "What would Jesus do?"

- Advise voters to leave rent and taxes out of their budgets, like Bush left the costs of Afghanistan and Iraq out of his budget. Makes a budget more cheerful!

- Get Dan Quayle out on the campaign trail. We loved him!

There. Now they can't say I never gave 'em anything.

Liz Langley is a freelance writer who lives in Florida. She is the co-founder of

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