- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 4, 2004

President George W. Bush beat Ronald Reagan, scoring a higher popular vote than the 40th president. There will be no talk about a “minority” president this time, or of hanging chads, because this is the first presidential election since 1988 in which the winner received a clear majority.

For conservatives, perhaps the sweetest result was the defeat of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, who consistently thwarted legislation and court nominees he didn’t like. By adding four Senate seats, Republicans have improved their chances of reforming Social Security, the indecipherable tax code and health care. The Bush administration may also have the opportunity to outperform Mr. Reagan (and George Bush 41) by naming a number of solid conservatives to the Supreme Court, which would extend this president’s influence for decades.

The Democrats lost more than the election. After spending record amounts of money, their numerous “527” groups, their rock stars, their media friends — particularly CBS News and the New York Times, both of which prostituted themselves for the Kerry-Edwards campaign — Democrats must rethink their embrace of the far-left wing of the party and find someone in the “moderate” mold of Bill Clinton.

Democrats also lost an important social issue — same-sex “marriage.” In 11 states where the issue was on the ballot, it was defeated (even in liberal Oregon) by wide margins, again proving that when the people, and not the courts, decide these things, the people have a different view than unelected federal judges. It appears many of the 4 million Evangelical Christians who sat out the 2000 election turned out for this one and mostly voted for President Bush and against same-sex “marriage.”

The National Rifle Association again demonstrated its ability to turn out voters who care about the right to keep and bear arms. Of the 18 candidates endorsed by the NRA for the Senate, 14 won for a net gain of four pro-gun Senate seats. In the House, the NRA endorsed 251 candidates, of which 241 won. On the other side, gun-control advocates backed Tom Daschle, who lost, and they targeted for defeat Sens. “Kit” Bond and Arlen Specter, both of whom won.

Exit polls were the scandal of this election. They were wrong. The exit polls were leaked to the media midday Tuesday. Perhaps that’s because they “seemed” to favor Mr. Kerry and many in the media gleefully reported them in hopes it might discourage people who had not yet voted.

The president now will have the power and the responsibility to pursue several objectives, most importantly the war in Iraq, as part of the overall war on terrorism. Look for a major operation to root out insurgents in Fallujah. What will Osama bin Laden’s minions do now? If they stage another terror attack in the United States, how will the president respond? Will he find, arrest and deport those among us who are not of us?

The president has promised to reform the indecipherable tax code and Social Security, positions the Democrats regularly demagogue though they know the programs cannot continue as currently constituted.

Then there is the Supreme Court. With the lessons of Ronald Reagan (Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy) and the elder George Bush (David Souter) — judges sold as conservatives and turned moderate — will the president nominate genuine conservatives who believe the Constitution is fine as written and does not need to be bent to fit of contemporary cultural trends?

With Mr. Daschle gone, will nominees more easily get past obstructionist Democrats? Will the Senate write new rules at the start of the next Congress to require only a majority vote to confirm judges, instead of the impossible “supermajority” of 60, which guarantees frustration and thwarting of majority will?

For conservatives, part of this election’s thrill was the long faces it must have given filmmaker Michael Moore, rockers like Bruce Springsteen, billionaire George Soros, MoveOn.org and the rest of the left-wing rabble.

Democrats should realize the McGovern-Mondale-Dukakis-Kerry wing of the Democrat Party cannot win. Will they finally wake up, or will they give into temptation and nominate Hillary Clinton in 2008?

The brain trust at the White House, led by Karl Rove, is entitled to celebrate, but they won’t gloat, at least in public. This was one of those turning point elections. Now it’s up to Mr. Bush to turn things to make his points.

Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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