The Right Coast

July 08, 2004
Clinton v Bush 43
By Mike Rappaport

Bruce Bartlett argues convincingly that Clinton had a better economic record than Bush 43. It is true that Clinton benefitted from the business cycle, the end of the cold war, and most importantly, a Republican Congress that stopped him from doing bad things. So he does not get much of the credit, but still these years had much to say for them. This might seem to suggest a policy of divided government on economic matters and thereby preferring Kerry to Bush for the next election regarding economics, so long as the Congress remains Republican to constrain Kerry. But Kerry strikes me as more liberal than Clinton, so it is not clear that this would be the correct strategy even as to spending issues. Bush has been better on regulation than on spending, and it strikes me that a President Kerry would be much worse than Bush here. And of course Presidents have a lot to say about what regulations agencies implement.

The main issue in this election, however, is the war on terror. And here I simply don't trust Kerry or the Democrats. Really, I think there is a much greater chance that there is a successful terrorist attack in the US if Kerry takes over. And that swamps everything else, both in terms of the human cost from such an attack and in terms of the cost on the economy, which would be considerable. And so, in the end, I will support Bush, even though in many ways he appears more like his father and Richard Nixon than like Ronald Reagan. But at least in foreign affairs, he is more like Reagan, and at this point, that is what counts most.