BEATING THE BUSHES….Kevin Phillips, who’s always always worth listening to, has an interesting op-ed in the LA Times this morning. Although he thinks that Howard Dean’s chances of winning either the nomination or the election are slim, he points to three previous candidates who made their marks primarily by hammering angrily at the incumbent: Eugene McCarthy, Ross Perot, and Newt Gingrich. None of them won the White House, Phillips says, but two of the three wounded the incumbent enough that he failed to get reelected.

Phillips makes a point that I think is important: the attacks on the president by Dean and others may not seem like a winning strategy right now ? Republicans have certainly told us that often enough ? but those attacks do have the effect of chipping away at Bush. It may be slow, but some of the attacks are hitting home, and if we keep them up Bush is going to be a seriously damaged goods by next summer.

Phillips believes that Bush has three serious vulnerabilities:

  • Misleading WMD statements before the war combined with Bush family coziness with the Saudis that have lead to coverups of Saudi participation in 9/11.

  • Bush’s blinkered view, also inherited from his father, that tax cuts should heavily favor investors. The resulting jobless recovery should be easy pickings for any halfway decent Democratic candidate.

  • Bush’s pandering to the religious right: “Next year’s Democratic nominee could win if he or she is shrewd enough to force the president to spend the autumn of 2004 in the Philadelphia, Detroit and Chicago suburbs defending his stance on creationism, his ties to flaky preachers and the faith healer he’s appointed to an advisory board for the Food and Drug Administration.”

It’s thought provoking stuff.

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