With 96 percent of the nation's precincts reporting as of this writing, George W. Bush had already received more than 57 million votes, more than any other candidate in electoral history. (Ronald Reagan won 54 million in 1984.) Although the popular vote was still being tabulated as of this writing, it appears George W. Bush will garner nearly 51 percent, making him the first president in 16 years to be elected by a majority of voters. This is the largest popular vote victory since his father won 54 percent of the vote against Michael Dukakis in 1988. (To put things in perspective, Ronald Reagan also won 51 percent of the vote in 1980. By contrast, Bill Clinton earned only 49 percent in his 1996 "landslide" victory over Bob Dole.)
Most importantly, last night the American people endorsed an aggressive, forward-looking policy of taking the War on Terrorism to the enemy. The race began with the Democrats flocking to Howard Dean's antiwar message and ended with John Kerry promising a more effective effort to "hunt down and kill the terrorists wherever they may be." Had he been elected, Kerry would have faced the same policy restrictions Bill Clinton did, undoubtedly with less grace and self-serving panache. With a hawkish American public and a Republican Congress, Kerry would "not even have the courage of his weakness." The nation is better off not forcing an already indecisive candidate to develop political schizophrenia. We can now unite around a leader who has proven his unwavering resolve in the fires of political controversy.
A History Making Presidency
We are now embarking upon the second half of an historical presidency. Even at this early juncture, it is fair to say history will likely remember George W. Bush as a steadfast leader during a time of national peril, the right man at the right time.
His entire presidency to date has been one for the record books.
George W. Bush was the first presidential candidate ever to have his political opponents try to steal the election judicially - and nearly succeed. After an unprecedented 36-day recount, Bush became one of four presidents elected despite losing the popular vote count. (The last was Benjamin Harrison in 1888.)
Displaying the determination that would inspire his admirers and infuriate his enemies, he did not allow his confidence in his agenda to be shaken by leftist catcalls of "President Select" or Jesse Jackson's charges of "illegitimacy" (a word choice soon revealed to be pregnant with irony). After dramatically renorming the tax code and passing the largest tax cut in history, he boldly asserted American interests by canceling the International Criminal Court, Anti-Ballistic Missile and Kyoto treaties - all over the vehement objection of the "international community" and the Democratic Party. Shortly thereafter, a gadfly Republican defection gave America only its second evenly divided Senate in history, the first in 120 years. The Democrats used this advantage to filibuster federal judicial nominees for the first time in history - a history that, sadly, is still playing out.
Then tragedy struck. For the first time since the War of 1812, a foreign enemy attacked Americans in their homeland. President Bush rallied Americans to the defenses, reversing a decade-long retreat in the face of terrorism. After a lightning-quick campaign (which, Charles Krauthammer has pointed out, was being called a quagmire during its second week), the new commander in chief destroyed the Taliban while bombing innocent Muslim children - with care packages donated by their American counterparts, at his behest.
Moving to protect the United States against the threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction, he gave Saddam Hussein an ultimatum: fully disclose the status of WMD programs or face "serious consequences." Stumping the nation with this message in 2002, President Bush became one of the few presidents in modern times to pick up Congressional seats during a midterm election, winning back control of the Senate.
He then overcame an international Oil-for-Food blackmail to launch a "unilateral" war aimed at.preserving the integrity of the United Nations. In the process, he endured an unprecedented level of hatred from his political enemies, receiving criticism from feminists for shutting down a regime that employed the rape and torture of women (and young girls) as tools of political repression. He has since liberated a second Muslim nation from the clutches of a madman.
With last month's election of Hamid Karzai, he brought democracy to Afghanistan for the first time in history. Next January, he will do the same for Iraq.
On the domestic front, after his second tax cut package took effect, Bush presided over the best economic gains in 20 years. He has since added 1.6 million new jobs to the economy, nearly canceling out the jobs lost during the Clinton recession and 9/11.
And with tonight's election, he became the first "second generation" president ever to be re-elected president of the United States. (John Quincy Adams, the son of John Adams, and Benjamin Harrison, the grandson of William Henry Harrison, lost their re-election bids in 1828 and 1892, respectively.)
Already the force of his character has left an historic imprint upon his nation, and the quality of character cannot be overestimated. Recent times have shown us that events do not make the man. After 9/11, Bill Clinton publicly sulked that he faced no great crisis that would cement his legacy in perpetuity. Yet as president, he exploited the greatest act of domestic terrorism to that time for crass political advantage, blaming the Oklahoma City bombing on the "anti-government rhetoric" of his political opponents. Confronted by North Korea's nuclear program, Red China's saber rattling, and ever-more-ominous incidents of Islamic terrorism, he averted his ever-smiling gaze to more politically advantageous subjects. Even Hollywood leftist Rob Reiner caricatured his do-nothing, poll-tested presidency in the film The American President. Great men are self-made; Bill Clinton was not a great man.
If he continues to wage a successful and unrelenting war on America's intractable foes, George W. Bush may prove to be. In the interim, we may rest assured we are in good hands.
A Time for Healing
With tonight's resounding endorsement of George W. Bush and an aggressive war on terror, it is time for the nation to reunite from the fractious political battles of the past four years. After their bitter (and undeniable ) defeat in the 2000 recount, leftists waged an endless political war, reaching heights of personal hatred not seen in 20th century America. Unlike the responsible opposition of the last fifty years, they proceeded to politicize a war, undermine troops in battle, and provide our terrorist foes with talking points in their blind hope of clawing their way back into power.
America has spoken, and America has rejected their destructive cynicism. Today's election proves America's elections can t be purchased by George Soros, Peter Lewis, and the constellation of 527 front groups their dirty money funds. Further contesting a hopeless race will only perpetuate the divisions of the past and prevent our needed national reconciliation. Voters have come together to protect their nation from the threat of suicide bombers who are convinced they are doing the will of Allah, and patriots from around the nation have selected the man who pledged to be most forthright in his defense of their families.
The Left may continue its unreasoning hatred of that man and his policies, but the American people stand united behind their president. We are ready to heal our divisions, secure our borders, and defend our freedoms.
It is time for the thoughtful Left to join us.