BAIT AND SWITCH….Does George Bush have a mandate? Even some conservatives are willing to admit that the idea is nonsense, but I’m not sure it matters that much anyway. All that really matters is what issues he’s going to push and how many of them he can get passed.

But here’s a remarkable thing. On the question of what issues he’s going to push, here’s what Bush has talked about so far:

  • Social Security privatization.

  • Tax reform.

  • Drilling for oil in ANWR.

Do you remember any of these being a major campaign issue? Me neither. Even Social Security, which at least got a passing mention, only got a passing mention. Take a look at the third debate, where Bush was directly asked about Social Security, and you’ll see that he only managed to get around to a brief mention of private accounts after a full minute of blather about how nobody was going to have their checks taken away. The “ownership society,” after a lot of hype from conservative pundits before the State of the Union address in January, barely showed up in the speech and was almost completely MIA during the campaign.

At a minimum, even if an election victory is a narrow one, a “mandate” is at least supposed to be something that the victor campaigned on. So if these are the things Bush feels most strongly about, why didn’t he base his campaign on them? Was he, perhaps, afraid that if people knew what he really had in store they might decide they didn’t like him so much after all?