World Events Will Shape National Election

Andrew Fitzgerald Adams is a junior at UC Berkeley. E-mail comments to [email protected]

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The 2004 elections are slated to be the most divisive and fractured in modern history. The last presidential election was settled by 500-odd votes in Florida, and Bush-Kerry will likely be as close, but not as civil.

For most voters, the choice has already been made. Americans are split right down the middle between Democrats and Republicans with few voters (6 percent according to some polls) making up the decisive middle.

Those voters will decide the election, and the events of the next eight months will define both who these people are and what will sway their vote. We won't know the results until November, but there are a few things that will likely happen and affect the outcome.

First, when or if Osama bin Laden is found will be important. How great a trophy would his bearded head be for the Bush campaign? His death, capture or both would ensure a second Bush administration, and there are serious doubts in bin Laden's ability to keep his supporters loyal in the face of a $25 million bounty.

He has done an excellent job for the last two and a half years in staying underground, but it will not last forever. Sooner rather than later, someone will opt for the money, and bin Laden will be in American hands. The question is when.

Am I saying there is some sort of conspiracy by the Bush administration concerning holding a terrorist until there is some sort of political capital to cash in on? No, but it is a bit hard to believe that we cannot find the most famous man in the world, while offering a bounty that is 100,000 times the average yearly Afghan salary.

But if bin Laden is not found, Bush will not politically survive the year. The president has the contributions, incumbency and war on his side, which will be good for about 40 percent. He has earned the trust of "NASCAR dads," a loyal bunch, and knows how to play to his base, pushing him to about 45 percent.

But this will not be enough. Kerry will win because he can argue that Bush has misled the nation-intentionally or not-and it has cost the nation its international prestige and 500+ soldiers. The way for Kerry to win is to portray the intelligence failure as Bush's fault due to his complete lack of interest in competing viewpoints.

Bush believed the reports of Iraqi defectors claiming to have intimate knowledge of Saddam's WMD. However, while the CIA considered that these men lied to ensure a safe asylum in the United States, Bush would not entertain the idea. The failure was in Bush's all too common choice to find a story he wants, whether or not it is the truth.

Another sure bet for November is that Dick Cheney will remain on the ticket. The question is: why would Bush hold on to a man who lacks even the sweaty charm of Nixon? Cheney seems to be a drag on the ticket, but Bush will keep him for one reason: He is a goldmine.

Cheney has the trust of the business community to support lower taxes and price supports for American business. The reason that Chevron, Exxon, Halliburton and Merrill Lynch have given so much to Bush/Cheney is that Cheney is a sure-thing, who has proven that he never forgets a donation.

So what will happen in the next eight months? Bush won't get his amendment, but will be able to use gay marriage against Kerry. Cheney will stick and bin Laden just may die.

As for the election, it will depend on the al Qaeda situation. If Osama is gone and the threat seems to have dissipated, Bush will win. If the election retains its focus on the economy and lies from Iraq, Kerry will.


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