51% 'MANDATE'?

The press is in danger of falling back into its role as Bush's lap dog, buying the hooey that Bush has some sort of mandate.

He doesn't.

As someone pointed out recently, 48 percent of Americans — an historic 55 million people — voted for Kerry, ostensibly "the most liberal member of Congress."

Greg Mitchell of Editor and Publisher writes:

If only 51% percent of my family or my editorial staff think I am doing a good job, I might look to moderate my behavior, not repeat or enlarge it. At the minimum, I would not assert that I was overwhelmingly popular. ...

As Doyle McManus and Janet Hook of the Los Angeles Times put it, Bush aides "repeatedly" made the point that their man had won by such a wide margin he should be given full rein to institute new policies (or perhaps enact new wars). Did McManus and Hook consider this a bit overblown? No, they repeated the talking point, declaring that "Bush can claim a solid mandate of 51% of the vote."

As the Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt observed, it was "the narrowest win for a sitting president since Woodrow Wilson in 1916." And a Gallup poll conducted after the election found that 63 percent of voters would prefer to see Bush pursue policies that "both parties support" compared to only 30 percent who want Bush to "advance the Republican Party's agenda."

Don't believe the hype.


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