BUSH ALMIGHTY: Two Views of George W. Bush

Monday, October 27, 2003

Admirers and critics have two diametrically opposed views of President George W. Bush. The admirers see a compassionate conservative at home and defender of the nation against terrorism and rogue states abroad. Critics see a radical conservative at home who led the nation into a destructive and unnecessary war abroad. Why do conservatives and liberals so often seem to be describing two different men when discussing President George W. Bush? Is it possible to find any common ground on which view of President Bush is closer to the truth?

Recorded on Monday, October 27, 2003

Peter Robinson: Today on Uncommon Knowledge: Will the real George W. Bush please stand up?

Announcer: Funding for this program is provided by the John M. Olin Foundation.

[Music]

Peter Robinson: Welcome to Uncommon Knowledge, I'm Peter Robinson. Our show today: the 43rd President of the United States--why do conservatives and liberals so often seem to be talking about two completely different people when they talk about George W. Bush? Compassionate conservative, radical conservative, defender of the nation against terrorism, war monger who has led us into a completely unnecessary conflict in Iraq? We'll offer you one especially harsh critic and one especially profound admirer of the President then see whether it's possible to achieve any common ground.

The harsh critic? Ron Reagan, journalist and television commentator. The profound admirer? John Podhoretz, columnist for the New York Post and author of the new book Bush Country, How Dubya Became a Great President while Driving Liberals Insane.

Title: Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Peter Robinson: Todd Gitlin of Salon, "Bush gives ample evidence that he does not reason. He thinks not in logical arcs but in scatters. It's the stupidity, stupid." Andrew Ferguson of the Weekly Standard, "Reporters wonder why the gifts of the intellectual for language and rumination and subtlety aren't indispensable to the exercise of power and indeed they are not. Leadership requires will, self-confidence and moral clarity, these Bush has in abundance." Is it…

Ron Reagan: He didn't mention honesty there, did he?

Peter Robinson: Hold on. Is it the stupidity stupid or Bush as an impressive and qualified leader? Ron? Now you talk.

Ron Reagan: Well I noticed that what--who--Andrew…

Peter Robinson: Ferguson.

Ron Reagan: Yeah, he didn't mention honesty there. And, you know, one of the things that drives liberals insane and in John's formulation is that that, of course, suggests a lot of neurasthenic hand-flapping over which is not really the case--is that he's just not honest with the American people. And what's more than that, he's not honest with them about very important things like sending their sons and daughters off to die in a foreign county.

Peter Robinson: John?

John Podhoretz: Part of the problem we face in having a discussion about this is that I would argue that Bush is a remarkably straightforward, indeed disarmingly honest President and leader and that a lot of the things that people consider dishonest about Bush, I don't think qualify as dishonesty. They qualify as disagreements, as different forms of interpretation of the same information.

Ron Reagan: That's true but sometimes he's just lying.

Peter Robinson: A way of getting at the question of George W. Bush's character, look at him as the son of privilege. John, in your book, in Bush Country, you quote an email that one journalist sent to you explaining the way he felt about President Bush. Let me quote it. "It's the whole privilege thing, non-achieving, goof-off, drunk rich kid, gets into National Guard with Daddy's help, gets set up in oil biz through dad, gets set up in baseball 'cause of dad, just gets, gets, gets, throughout his life and then to top it off, gets the presidency even though he didn't really win." To which you John reply, "The journalist's indictment carries with it a kernel of truth about George W. Bush, but the very fact that Bush made it to the presidency while carrying this kind of baggage helps suggest why he is such a singular figure in American political history." And we now ask you to explain yourself.

John Podhoretz: Well, you're looking at a man who underwent the most meteoric rise in American political history. That is, he won his first election in 1994. He became President six years later. Nothing like that has ever happened before and a lot of people try to look for explanations of this by saying that this was somehow an illegitimate rise to power as opposed to the question of how exactly--this is an unbelievable story.

Peter Robinson: So the suggestion is yes, he's the son of privilege but look what he's done with it. He's gone into public life. He got to be President of the United States and you can't sort of stumble into the--in a family firm you can stumble into the top office but you can't become President of the United States sheerly through privilege. There's a demonstration of will…

Ron Reagan: Not without a lot of money behind you and name recognition, too. You know that he was approached to run for the presidency two years into his first term as governor of Texas? The governorship in Texas is largely ceremonial.

John Podhoretz: Yeah, but that doesn't matter.Texas is the second--the governor of any large state is instantly...

Ron Reagan: Two years, his first political job, they're saying we ought to run you for president. Was he so tremendous as governor of Texas? Was he so original in his thinking? Was he so commanding in his presence that people just said, oh my God, here's the next President of the United States? I don't think so. I think they saw name recognition and we can raise the money.

John Podhoretz: Okay, well I say number one that the name recognition is a double-edged sword. When George Bush became...

Ron Reagan: I can vouch for that.

John Podhoretz: …became governor in 1994 and in--and by 1996, the name Bush was a controversial name in the Republican Party. It was not an unalloyed positive to be a Bush. Indeed George W. Bush's assertion of himself as more of a disciple of your father, Ronald Reagan's, than of his own father, George Bush's, was in part an effort to deal with the problem of being--of sharing the name of a person who had been a spectacularly failed president, you know.

Ron Reagan: You wonder how his dad feels about that...

John Podhoretz: I know.

Ron Reagan: …because he keeps trying to be my dad.

Peter Robinson: Ron says that George W. Bush keeps trying to be Ronald Reagan. Any truth to that assertion?

Title: To Heir is Human

Peter Robinson: John Podhoretz in Bush Country, "George W. Bush was able to betray his father's notions," to betray his father's notions, "of how to conduct the presidency and what a president's approach to world politics should be. Here George W. Bush is governing as the true heir of Ronald Reagan." Explain that John.

John Podhoretz: When you're looking at somebody who is a--who has now pushed through more than two trillion dollars in tax cuts, who has asserted a democratizing, an activist and muscular American foreign policy, whereas his father, of course, promised not to raise taxes and did. And what ran a cautious and prudent, you know, the word that is comically associated with his father, a prudent foreign policy so cautious ideologically that he did not even really celebrate the victory in the Cold War and tried to keep Yugoslavia and Eastern Europe within the Russian orbit rather than sort of encouraging and actively promoting the idea that their freedom was one of the great…

Peter Robinson: Muddling instead of strength and so on. Okay, so you know that there are a lot of people who when George W. Bush got elected and who still say, at last Ronald Reagan's third term. He's fulfilling the unfinished Reagan agenda.

Ron Reagan: Well, you know, in some political senses, you can make that case…

Peter Robinson: Tax cuts…

Ron Reagan: Yeah, tax cuts. As you mentioned his father, George Bush, Sr. promised not to raise taxes, then did. My father cut taxes but then when the budget started going all to hell, he rescinded some of those tax cuts.

Peter Robinson: Some of it. He took a little bit back.

Ron Reagan: Well, some.

Peter Robinson: And very reluctantly.

Ron Reagan: Some, and they weren't the massive sort of tax cuts that George Bush has done. You can--again, you can make the political point that there are similarities there. What amuses me more but sometimes annoys me is trying to actually embody the persona of Ronald Reagan. I mean, it actually went to the lengths of going out and getting this boy a ranch so that he could have a ranch just like Ronald Reagan. I--God, I just hoot when I see him out there on that ranch.

John Podhoretz: The Reagan Ranch is a lot nicer than the Crawford Ranch which is a lot of tumbleweed and it's a hundred degrees…

Ron Reagan: My father was much more of a rancher than he was. This is a guy who used to, you know, build his own fences, curry his own horses, saddle his own horses, you know, cut his own firewood. You know, George Bush sallies forth in his pickup truck to go torment small animals. And he's got that little "lady trim whiz," you know, chainsaw that he uses to trim the hedges for the cameras when they're there.

John Podhoretz: I think you can see how liberals are being driven insane by George W. Bush…

Ron Reagan: Oh I find it amusing. I find it amusing, not crazy-making.

John Podhoretz: …in that little--in that little speech. He grew up in West Texas. He has a ranch in West Texas. I don't know…A ranch is what a lot of us--what those of us on the East Coast call a country house.

Ron Reagan: And it's more that for him, I think too.

Peter Robinson: About eighteen months before George W. Bush declared his candidacy, he had a meeting with me and a couple of other people who'd written speeches for your dad and had written speeches for George W. Bush's father when he was Vice President. And the couple of us during that--he wanted to know how to set up a speechwriting shop because he was planning to run for president. And naturally I started to tell him how his dad had done things. And the then-governor of Texas cut me off. He wanted to know how Ronald Reagan had handled his speechwriting shop. Now I thought that was good news. There were certain areas in which your father is the correct example for someone who wants to be president. But why--I mean, it's almost as though you find offensive in and of itself. Isn't that quite a reasonable and, in fact, encouraging sign that he wants to model himself on your dad in a number of areas? But you find it fraudulent. What is it that…

Ron Reagan: Well, I find some of it fraudulent; sure, the sort of poseur at the ranch is fraudulent. I'm interested that he was so interested in the communications aspect of it though because he's so dismal that mighty God, this man is, you know, can't make a speech to save his life.

John Podhoretz: I think that's an extraordinary thing to say because I…

Ron Reagan: You like his speech. You think he's…

John Podhoretz: …I think he is a great presidential speech giver. Exactly.

Peter Robinson: Next topic, Bush's approach to government. Is he a radical or a compassionate conservative?

Title: Land of the Free (Radicals)

Peter Robinson: Paul Krugman in the New York Times, "There is no longer any doubt that George W. Bush is actually a radical who wants to undo much of the great society and the New Deal." And yet as John Podhoretz points out in his book Bush Country, spending on education is up sixty-one percent, on energy twenty-two percent, on health and human services twenty-two percent, on the Labor Department fifty-six percent, not to mention a fifteen billion dollar AIDS initiative for Africa. So I put it to you that far from attempting to dismantle the social safety net, George W. Bush is a truly compassionate conservative.

Ron Reagan: Well, take a look at that AIDS initiative. I can't go through all those figures there because I don't have them in front of me.

Peter Robinson: Spending is up. Spending--domestic spending broadly spending, is up dramatically.

Ron Reagan: Is up, along with the deficit. So we're taking in less money, we're spending more and the deficit is ballooning, which is going to rebound to hurt a lot of ordinary people because states are going to have to pick up the difference and locality is going to have to pick up the difference and they can't afford it because they're in deficit also. So they're cutting programs.

Peter Robinson: Okay, so this…

John Podhoretz: No, states and localities are in deficit because there was an economic slow-down, not because they're--not because federal tax receipts are down.

Ron Reagan: No, I didn't say that. I didn't…

John Podhoretz: Their tax receipts are down.

Ron Reagan: …say that. I said they are in deficit and they're having to cut funding.

John Podhoretz: The federal deficit today is exactly the same size that it was proportionate to the size of the economy that it was in the 1980's.

Peter Robinson: It's actually smaller. The deficit is smaller to proportion of GDP.

John Podhoretz: Right. That's right. We are now at about four hundred billion dollars with an eleven trillion dollar economy. It was then 200 billion and...

Peter Robinson: It's about 3 ½ percent now and it got up to eight percent under this man's father.

John Podhoretz: So in essence, I mean, the fact is that the danger of deficits as I understand it is that they run the risk of causing a drastic increase in interest rates because private money is competing with government to borrow money and we're sitting here as we speak, with a federal prime rate of one percent. So we have--we're running deficits with no affect on interest rates and no inflation or effect whatsoever. In fact, in times of economic slowdown, nobody rational argues--nobody rational argues that government spending should decrease in a time of economic slowdown because that is one of the few ways in which the government can keep liquidity in the economy and can help things…

Peter Robinson: You going to take all that?

John Podhoretz: …from falling off a cliff.

Ron Reagan: Well, you know, I don't think the economy's in such--in as good a shape as you think it is. And I think deficits can be a problem. I'm not an economist and I can't--not like Paul Krugman is. But it just seems to me that tax cuts as a panacea for everything is the wrong idea. When Bush came into office and this was a promise he kept, he said I'm going to cut taxes because we had a big surplus and he was saying, hey, give some of the money back.

Peter Robinson: Right.

Ron Reagan: Well, then the surplus starts to go away. Well okay, the same tax cut but this time it's a short-term stimulus for the economy. Well that didn't happen. So okay, same tax cut but now it's a long-term program for the economy. So it's a sort of one size fits all. The fact of the matter is he wants to shift the tax burden from the wealthy onto the middle class and the poor and he'll do that no matter what.

John Podhoretz: That is also not true. The argument that Bush is shifting the tax burden from the wealthy onto the middle class and the poor is based on the fact that payroll taxes--payroll taxes which exist at the level that they exist because of a social security commission that was run and created and made its rules in 1983. So he has cut the taxes that are in his power to cut. If he wants to announce--if we want to have a major debate on whether or not to cut the payroll tax, that is absolutely fine. That would then threaten the supposed solvency of social security.

Peter Robinson: Let me ask Ron about the role of religion in the presidency of George W. Bush.

Title: Bush Almighty

Peter Robinson: You have made it clear in interviews and written work that you find him too religious. There's something about his religiosity that gets on your nerves. Your dad was a religious figure. Distinguish between those two.

Ron Reagan: Well, my father never felt it was necessary and, in fact, was quite uncomfortable with the idea of wearing your religion on your sleeve. George Bush mentions it a lot and apparently, according to Don Evans, at least…

Peter Robinson: Don Evans is the sitting Secretary of Commerce.

Ron Reagan: …that George Bush actually feels that he was sort of appointed by God to this position.

Peter Robinson: Ron, we now know…

Ron Reagan: Well, I'm quoting Don Evans.

Peter Robinson: No, no, I'm not--no, no, no, I'm not going to argue with you but we now know that when your father returned to the White House after twelve days, I think it was, in the hospital, he made that diary entry…

Ron Reagan: "Whatever time I have left..."

Peter Robinson: "...belongs to God."

Ron Reagan: "…is--it belongs to God."

Peter Robinson: Now it was a private entry. He made it to his diary but he certainly felt some--in some way, the hand of God in his life.

Ron Reagan: That's a different…

Peter Robinson: I'm just asking you to draw the distinction.

Ron Reagan: And I would.

John Podhoretz: By the way, it used to be considered--it used to be considered the nineteenth century and the twentieth century, that when a political leader said that he believed that God played some role in his elevation, that that conferred on him responsibility, that it was not like he was given a Nobel Prize. That was what people meant when they said God has tasked me with this awesome responsibility and certainly, you know, certainly Bush represents a--is the most openly religious president that we've had…

Peter Robinson: Since Carter perhaps.

John Podhoretz: …since Carter--but certainly he does not speak about religion any less than leaders of the first half of the century did and certainly not less than American leaders from the founding of the republic onward.

Peter Robinson: Can I ask is it something that doesn't sit right with you or is there substantive implication here? He's using religion in some way to--that affects policy?

Ron Reagan: I'm not a Christian so I don't have a right to talk about Christianity but I understand Christianity to be a religion of compassion and I assume that's the way George Bush understands it too. I think we might want to consider at least when we're thinking about George Bush and his religiosity, that for instance, in the war in Iraq, that some ten thousand or so--there's no actual hard number but the estimates seem to be around ten thousand or so--innocent Iraqi men, women, children, old people, babies, have died as a result of this war. George W. Bush…well let me finish…

Peter Robinson: Go ahead.

Ron Reagan: George W. Bush, if he's really a religious man, he ought to be crawling over those people's graves, begging their forgiveness and explaining to them why they had to give up their lives…

John Podhoretz: How about the fact…

Peter Robinson: Humanitarian agencies

Ron Reagan: Wait a minute.

Peter Robinson: …has estimated that four thousand kids a month were dying in Iraq…

Ron Reagan: Because of the embargo that we put on them.

John Podhoretz: Yes. We didn't put the embargo on it. The U.N. put the embargo on it.

Ron Reagan: Well, the U.N. put the embargo on...

Peter Robinson: Okay. So, in essence…

Ron Reagan: So kids are dying anyway, what's a few more thousand? We can kill…

John Podhoretz: No, no, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands less…

Peter Robinson: Schools are now open, hospitals are now open.

Ron Reagan: But we didn't kill them. George W. Bush's war killed these ten thousand people. And if I'm a religious person, now I've just done something that results in the deaths of ten thousand innocent people, I'm going to be real apologetic about that.

John Podhoretz: Lincoln was a religious man and I'm unaware--I am unaware of, unless you are equating Christianity with…

Ron Reagan: We're not talking about Abraham Lincoln.

John Podhoretz: No, unless you are equating Christianity with pacifism, which you obviously are, then…

Ron Reagan: No.

John Podhoretz: Then no Christian is permitted--no Christian leader is permitted ever to go to war.

Peter Robinson: On to the new subject, President Bush's foreign policy.

Title: Promises, Promises

Peter Robinson: John says this in Bush Country, "We fought the Cold War not only to protect ourselves but to make the world a better place. That is the promise of the Bush doctrine. It promises a Middle East altered for the better because only if the Middle East is remade can the United States be safe. How do you respond to that assertion?

Ron Reagan: Well, we heard before the Iraq war that, you know, as soon as we showed up--our boys and girls in uniform showed up in Iraq that they'd be showering them with rose petals and we'd be greeted as liberators. I saw a picture in the New York Times the other day. It was one of the many bombings that have taken place, you know, aimed at our service people. And you remember the statue of Saddam being toppled.

Peter Robinson: Yes, being pulled down. Right.

Ron Reagan: Supposedly spontaneous demonstration turned out to be sort of a planned thing with a lot of Ahmad Chalabi's people there instead. There…

Peter Robinson: I didn't know that.

Ron Reagan: If the cameras pulled back, you saw that there were actually about a hundred people there and most of them were Chalabi's people. Well anyway, contrast that with this other picture in the New York Times I saw today. A bomb goes off under a Humvee or one of those vehicles that…

Peter Robinson: One of our military vehicles?

Ron Reagan: One of our military vehicles. Thankfully nobody was killed. Some people were injured. The vehicle, of course, was destroyed. Another crowd is gathered there. It seemed to be a lot of people. They're jumping up and down on the thing and they're setting it on fire. Now these aren't people that are showering us with rose petals. These are people that want us out of there and want our people dead. There's going to be more of that.

Peter Robinson: What motive do you attribute to Bush?

John Podhoretz: Since there are now three very hard to take--but three polls that indicate that seventy to eighty percent of the Iraqi people want us there. You are now comparing one photograph in the New York Times to hard data that we have. I'll give you a counter example.

Ron Reagan: Who took the polls?

John Podhoretz: John Zogby who is not known as a supporter of American Middle East policy, by the way. So he's the major one who took the polls. And Gallup which is not known to be a, you know, a shill…

Peter Robinson: It's not a pro-Republican organization.

John Podhoretz: In any case, Paul Wolfowitz, who was, you know, who was nearly killed. He was on a trip to Iraq and he was in Kirkuk and other places. He went into crowds and was garlanded and greeted as a liberator. So every example you give me of people screaming...

Ron Reagan: I'll bet these were just spontaneous crowds that just showed up to...

John Podhoretz: Well, in fact…

Ron Reagan: They just let him wade into the crowd.

John Podhoretz: Yes he did and they did.

Ron Reagan: I'm sure they did. Yeah.

Peter Robinson: Ron, let me ask you…

John Podhoretz: No, but honestly, being sort of sarcastic is not a substitute for argument. You are simply asserting things on the basis of nothing.

Ron Reagan: Well, I'm assuming that somebody doesn't let the Deputy Secretary of Defense wander off into Baghdad and just mingle and…

John Podhoretz: He wasn't in Baghdad.

Ron Reagan: All right, Kirkuk or whoever. All right, Kirkuk. Do you really think they just let him wander into some crowd?

John Podhoretz: What do you mean they?

Ron Reagan: Well, whoever's handling…

John Podhoretz: He is the guy in charge.

Ron Reagan: He left the hotel…

John Podhoretz: No, he was…

Ron Reagan: …walked down the street, found the crowd…

Peter Robinson: Hold on. I'm taking you by the shoulders to turn you back to me because I want to get another quest…

Ron Reagan: Sorry, I was going insane.

John Podhoretz: Well, you know, I'm telling you.

Peter Robinson: Quiet down!

John Podhoretz: You are selling my book. Thanks very much.

Peter Robinson: You quiet down. And you look at me. Settle down now. Here's the question. What motivation do you attribute to Bush for the war in Iraq? Was it a mistake? Is he power--how do you understand…

Ron Reagan: Is he power-hungry?

Peter Robinson: Well no, genuinely, I really want to know how you construct the motivation?

Ron Reagan: I'm not sure that--you remember George Bush didn't run for president on the platform that I'm going to invade Iraq.

Peter Robinson: No, but 9/11 hadn't happened.

Ron Reagan: Well but 9/11 had nothing to do with Iraq. Despite the fact that seventy percent of the American people somehow got the idea that Saddam Hussein was involved with 9/11.

Peter Robinson: Answer me.

Ron Reagan: How did they get that idea?

Peter Robinson: Don't get him into this until you answer my question. What motivation have you constructed?

Ron Reagan: I don't think he personally had much motivation. I think Paul Wolfowitz, Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney who wanted to invade Iraq since 1992.

Peter Robinson: So you construct him…

Ron Reagan: They considered it unfinished business.

Peter Robinson: …you construct him as a relatively weak figure surrounded by powerful people who have…

Ron Reagan: I don't think he had any real philosophy about the Middle East or really foreign policy altogether.

Peter Robinson: Okay. The second order question is what…

Ron Reagan: …He's being directed by people who do have ideas.

Peter Robinson: What do Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld want?

Ron Reagan: I think they really believe they can remake the Middle East.

Peter Robinson: Let me be more explicit about a question I asked earlier. Does Ron believe that Bush was led into war by his advisors?

Title: Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Peter Robinson: I don't want to put words in your mouth so correct me if this is not what you are trying to say or what you constructed but that Bush is a puppet may be too strong a word but he's led into war by Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Condoleezza Rice perhaps, Dick Cheney.

Ron Reagan: Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz…

Peter Robinson: Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz…

Ron Reagan: We know that Paul Wolfowitz since 1992 wanted to go into Iraq. Rumsfeld and Cheney also.

Peter Robinson: He's been drawn into the plan to remake the Middle East by…

John Podhoretz: Cheney was Defense Secretary when we didn't go into Iraq. So I believe there is…

Ron Reagan: Well, he was working for a guy who didn't want him to go in there, Bush Sr.

John Podhoretz: Right but I--but as it happens…

Peter Robinson: But isn't it on the record that Cheney himself was reluctant about the war?

John Podhoretz: Yes, Cheney was opposed--Cheney was actually opposed to the first Gulf War and not…

Peter Robinson: Bush is weak; his foreign policy is being, in effect, hoisted upon him by others.

John Podhoretz: I think there is now a relatively long, if you can consider four or five years long history of argumentation that everything that George Bush does is something that has been foisted upon him by somebody more powerful. That is one of the ideas in my book. How do I refute it?

Peter Robinson: Yes.

John Podhoretz: I refute it by adducing the fact that first it's Karl Rove that's his puppet master. Then it's Dick Cheney who's his puppet master. Then it's Paul Wolfowitz who's his puppet master. We now have an entire line art--line of argument that says that a bunch of second tier officials at the Defense Department and at the White House are somehow responsible for creating a foreign policy, the purpose of which is to remake the Middle East in a way...

Peter Robinson: For the sake of Israel.

John Podhoretz: …favorable to Israel is crazy. We have…

Ron Reagan: I never said that.

John Podhoretz: No, you did not. And I--I did not say you…

Peter Robinson: It's television gentlemen and we're running out of time. Let me--I have one question for you and then a last question for both of you. This notion that John just sketched out that first it was Rove, then it was this, then it was--and that really the only thing that can be sustained over time is the notion that George W. Bush actually is running things himself. Doesn't that have a certain resonance with you, Ron, since your dad went through his entire career being viewed--to use Clark Clifford's term as "an amiable dunce." And, in fact…

Ron Reagan: I don't think George W. Bush is always a puppet. You mentioned the specific thing, the policy in Iraq.

Peter Robinson: Right.

Ron Reagan: And I merely pointed out that Paul Wolfowitz has been calling for more than ten years for us to go back into Iraq and that he's now Deputary Secr--Deputy Secretary of Defense and he's been pushing this thing and Rumsfeld along with him. You know, read that into this. I don't know. Is Bush the driver or is Wolfowitz? I would guess Wolfowitz since he's got a history of this. So--that's really all I'm saying.

Peter Robinson: Okay, all right. Gentlemen, last question.

Ron Reagan: Oh boy.

Peter Robinson: The year 2000, George W. Bush famously wins in the Electoral College but loses the popular vote. Next year will George W. Bush be reelected and how big…

Ron Reagan: I'm going to be an optimist and say he'll lose.

Peter Robinson: Narrowly.

Ron Reagan: Probably narrowly.

Peter Robinson: John?

John Podhoretz: I think he'll win. I have no idea whether he'll win narrowly or substantially.

Peter Robinson: You don't sense a big victory coming?

John Podhoretz: A lot depends on the condition, you know, in Iraq in September and October. I think what we'll be seeing through 2004 is an improving in economy and I think a stabilized Iraq. And I believe that if you put those two together and you also add to it the insistence which I think is remarkable on the Democratic Party in essentially running at Bush on his strength with the American people which is his foreign policy standing that they may get their hats handed to them. But you can never tell.

Peter Robinson: He'll lose and he deserves it. He'll win and he deserves that.

Peter Robinson: Ron Reagan, John Podhoretz, thank you very much.

Ron Reagan: You bet.

Peter Robinson: I'm Peter Robinson for Uncommon Knowledge, thanks for joining us.