From American Progress:
The Beginning Of The End Of Bush
In Jan. 2007, Newsweek conducted a poll asking Americans if "they wish the Bush presidency [were] simply over." Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they did, including 59 percent of independents and 21 percent of Republicans. Today in Iowa, the final chapter of President Bush's two terms in office will begin to unfold as an estimated 200,000 to 240,000 voters participate in the first nominating battle of the 2008 election. With Bush's approval rating hovering around 33 percent -- and with roughly 67 percent of Americans believing that the country is on the "wrong track" -- a common thread running through the campaigns of the candidates from both parties is the need for a break from the policies and passions of the Bush years. Last month, Democratic pollster Peter Hart and Republican pollster Bill McInturff surveyed whether Americans were looking for "small adjustments," "to turn the page," or to start "a brand new book." Respondents preferred "a brand new book" by a margin of 17 percentage points over "turn the page" and 22 percentage points over "small adjustments." As the Des Moines Register editorializes today, for a country yearning for a new beginning, participants in the Iowa caucuses have "a more awesome responsibility this year than ever" to pick someone who can fix the problems wrought by eight years of Bush.
RUNNING AWAY FROM BUSH: On MSNBC's Hardball last month, host Chris Matthews asked Sen. John McCain (R-TX): "Should the Bushies vote for you because you're the closest thing to keeping him in for a third term?" Instead of embracing the President, McCain laughed awkwardly before saying, "I hope they would vote for me because they recognize the challenges, particularly in national security." McCain isn't the only conservative avoiding comparisons to Bush. In a recent CNN debate, Bush's name was never once mentioned by any of the candidates from his own party. Writing in Foreign Affairs, former Republican Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee directly criticized the Bush administration for having an "arrogant bunker mentality" that "has been counterproductive at home and abroad." Huckabee's rival, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, originally attacked him over his criticism, saying he owed Bush an apology, but now Romney is "distancing himself from his party's unpopular president" by calling him a bad manager.
THE CHANGE ARGUMENT: "After a yearlong campaign in Iowa, the Republican and Democratic presidential front-runners are boiling down their arguments to a six-letter word: change," writes Bloomberg's Julianna Goldman. Though each candidate has a different idea of what form that change should take and how it can best be delivered, almost all of them are arguing that it is necessary. In a recent event in Indianola, IA, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) mentioned the word "change" 21 times. In his televised closing argument yesterday, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) asked, "Who can take us in a fundamentally new direction?" Romney says he wants to bring the "spirit of change" to Washington, DC. "If we don't make some changes to the way we do business in this country," argues Huckabee, "there won't be enough of an America left to still be fighting for." Former Democratic senator John Edwards tells crowds that "unless you've got a president who's willing to take on" special interests to which the Bush administration catered, "nothing's going to change." Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), who has raised more money this quarter than any other Republican, considers himself "a genuine true believer that this country is ready for a real change."